What Is an MOV File and How to Open It?

We've covered everything in-depth about MOV format.

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You've come to this page since you have an MOV file with the .mov extension. Only some players can open the MOV file format. Let's get going to discuss the following points.

Part 1: What Is An MOV File

what is mov file format

The .mov file extension suffix is applied to video formats saved in the MOV format, which implements Apple QuickTime Movies encoding requirements and data compression specifications. In 1998, Apple launched the MOV file format. An Apple QuickTime Movie file contained in a QuickTime File Format (QTFF) container format has the MOV file extension.

Multiple tracks in a MOV file could hold music, video, and text in the same files, or the tracks might refer to data saved somewhere else in a separate file.

MOV files are ubiquitous on iOS gadgets, including iPhones and iPads, since that is the preferred file format for video recording on those devices.

Part 2: MOV Video Player for Different Operating Systems

mov file player

The .MOV file extension is commonly used for Apple QuickTime Movie files. However, some would be saved with the .QT, .MOVIE, or .MOOV format instead. The first option to open a MOV video is no doubt Apple QuickTime Player, which is included with macOS and is accessible for free download on Windows. Apart from QuickTime Player, MOV files are playable with many other media players. Here is a brief guide about selecting MOV players according to the type of your system.

MOV Players
  • Windows Media Player (Free)
  • Apple QuickTime Player (Free)
  • VLC Media Player (Free)
  • Creator NXT (Paid)
  • Cyberlink PowerDirector (Paid)
  • Adobe Premiere Rush (Free Trial)
  • Wondershare UniConverter (Free Trial)
  • Apple QuickTime Player (Free)
  • VLC Media Player (Free)
  • Elmedia Video Player (Free)
  • Blu-ray Player for Mac (Free)
  • Adobe Premiere Rush (Free Trial)
  • Wondershare UniConverter (Free Trial)
Linux VLC Media Player (Free)
  • VLC Media Player for Android
  • MX Player (Free with Ad)
  • Adobe Premiere Rush (Free Trial)
  • VLC Media Player for iOS (Free)
  • MX Player iOS App (Free with Ad)
  • Olimsoft OPlayer (iOS) (Paid)
Web Google Drive

Part 3: Common Issues When Opening MOV Files and How to Fix

1. Why MOV Files Won't Play on Your iPhone?

  • The file's codecs are incompatible with iPhone. As a multimedia container format, MOV can be encoded in MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2, H263, Apple ProRes, DV, Sorenson Video 2, etc. QuickTime player is commonly used to play MOV videos. However, it's not exactly true for iPhone. iPhone accepts the video compressed with MPEG-4. When your MOV file is encoded with MPEG-2, H263, H261, Apple ProRes, etc., the chance of “MOV Won't Open on iPhone” will be increased.
  • Incorrect parameter settings. iPhone supports only MOV files with specific frame rate, resolution, bitrate, and frequency.
  • Insecure MOV file download. The MOV files are obtained from an untrustworthy or unsafe website. In this case, the video files may be partly or totally damaged, which leads to MOV playback failure.

Above are the 3 frequent causes when your iPhone cannot play MOV. Surely, there may be many other reasons.

2. How to Open MOV Files on iPhone

  • Method 1: Play MOV files on iPhone using iTunes

To fix MOV codecs issues or improper parameter settings mentioned above, it's recommended to use iTunes' built-in video encoder that ensures you can enjoy MOV file playback on your iPhone. The following are the steps to take:

  1. Import the MOV file to iTunes. Launch iTunes. Click File > Add File to Library > select the MOV File in the browser window > Open to import the MOV video files into iTunes.
add the mov video to itunes
  1. Go to the inventory of all the videos stored in the iTunes library by clicking the “Movies” tab on the iTunes menu. Select the imported MOV file.
select the mov file waiting to be converted
  1. Then, click the tab File > Convert > Create iPod or iPhone Version. iTunes will optimize the MOV files for playing on the iPhone. After finishing, the iPhone-compatible version of the MOV video will be displayed along with the original one.
convert mov to play on iphone with itunes
  1. Connect your iPhone to a PC and transfer the optimized MOV videos from iTunes Library to iPhone.
  • Method 2: Play MOV Files on iPhone via MOV Video Converter

The converting process using iTunes is complicated, and you can only convert one MOV file at a time. So alternatively, you can utilize a MOV to iPhone video converter like Wondershare UniConverter to make all of your MOV videos playable on iPhone more efficiently with 3 simple steps: Drag all the MOV files into UniConverter > Select iPhone as the output format > Convert.

convert mov to iphone compatible video format

After conversion, UniConverter features transferring files to the iPhone directly.

Note: Suppose the MOV file is corrupt or damaged, you need a MOV video repair tool to help fix it.

3. How to Open MOV Files on Windows?

  • Method 1: Update Windows Media Player to Version 12

As listed above, there are multiple programs that can open and play MOV files on Windows platforms, such as Apple QuickTime Player and Windows Media Player. However, only the newest version of Windows Media Player (Version 12) supports playing all .mov file extensions. You must check the configuration of Windows Media Player that is pre-installed on your computer with the following steps:

  • Step 1: Launch the application. Inside the Windows search box, Enter "Windows Media Player" and click on it as it displays.
  • Step 2: After the software has loaded, press Alt + H. Then choose About Windows Media Player from the drop-down menu.
  • Step 3: If the device version number starts with a 12, you own version 12 so use Windows Media Player to play .mov file extension. Otherwise, you'll be required to update your Windows Media Player or consider either of the techniques for playing MOV files.
  • Method 2: Convert MOV to MP4 to Resolve the Codec Compatibility Problem

Whenever you encounter the following issue: the MOV file will not play using QuickTime or will display an error code such as "VLC can't identify the input's format." It means that the player doesn't support the file or codec.

MOV is a container format that allows media to be encoded in codecs like MPEG-4 Part 3, to mention only a few. Even if the container format MOV is generally compatible, this does not imply the video's codec.

Get a compatible codec pack or just make use of Wondershare UniConverter for processing and transcoding the MOV video to MP4 to fix the playback incompatibility problems. The steps are the same as converting MOV to iPhone: Import the MOV videos to UniConverter > Choose MP4 as output format > Click Convert.

convert mov to mp4 to to fix the mov playback incompatibility

Quick Tips: Even the VLC media player enables to convert MOV to MP4 format. This is done using the Media > Convert > Save menu item in VLC. Select output format MP4 from the list of options after finding the MOV file.

4. Access MOV Files on a Computer via Google Drive

Still can't open the MOV file? Another option for multiple platforms is Google Drive. When you upload the movie to the online storage provider, it means you're not only backing it up online, but also making it streamable out of any website or mobile device (through the Google Drive app).

Quick Tips: If you accidentally deleted or lost your MOV files without backup, this tutorial about how to recover deleted MOV files will help you.

Video Tutorial on How to watch MOV File On Windows 10

Part 4: Comparison between MOV and MP4 Format

.MOV File
.MP4 file
An Apple-exclusive QuickTime file type It is a global standard and compatible with all gadgets
Less preferred by broadcasting providers Have more broadcasting protocols
MOV files are frequently superior in performance and greater in size usually compressed and less in size
Developed exclusively for QuickTime Compatible with many players

Which Is Better to Choose – MOV or MP4?

Because of these distinctions, there are times when one file format is more suited to your needs than the other. For example, if you want to save a movie in higher quality but don't have much space on your computer, you should just save it as .mov. You should save a home video as an MP4 file if you ever want to keep it, share it with someone, and are willing to suffer some quality loss. Go deep into MOV vs MP4 >>.

The Bottom Line

These all are about to .MOV format. Definitely, this will help you understand what is MOV file format and how to play MOV files on different gadgets. It might happen that you're misunderstanding the filename or extension.