Avid video fans using QuickTime will be well aware of its shortcomings. Although Quicktime Pro is an incredibly versatile program for converting video, there are a number of formats it doesn’t work with.

Problems with files not playing, or playing video without sound (or even vice versa) plague the video aficionado using QuickTime. So much so that the general advice up till now has been to install and use VLC, a freeware alternative to QuickTime that seems to be capable of playing everything and the kitchen sink.

However, VLC has its limitations. Not least of which it doesn't work with Front Row. Also it only plays video files and can't convert them - so it doesn't solve the problem of having numerous file formats on your Mac.


However, a new team has developed a solution called Perian 1.0. This is a free and open-source series of plug-ins for QuickTime that seem to make it capable of playing just about everything. According to the website, these file formats are then available:

  1. AVI, FLV, and MKV file formats
  2. MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivX, H.264, FLV1, FSV1, VP6, H263I, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), MPEG Layer II Audio
  3. AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3
  4. Subtitle support for SSA and SRT

Of course, the only missing file there is Windows Media Video (WMV), but Flip4Mac has this one covered, so you should download that separately.

Perian 1.0 is not bad at all for a free product. It seems to have solved every problem I ever had playing video files in QuickTime. Now, if they can only do the same for the Apple TV we'll be home and dry.