I've recently switched from PC to Mac, so I'm slowly building a library of useful utilities. So, any recommendations for the best generic media player?

On the PC - I've found the VLC player to be pretty useful - there's a Mac version, but I don't know how it compares to other alternatives.

Many of the alternatives on the PC are full of crap - e.g., constantly pushing toolbars, add-ins, anti-virus junk, etc.

So, I'd like something lightweight and crapware free. I'd be happy to pay $20-$30 for something that was worth it.

8 Answers 8


VLC is by far the best.

Fast, extensible, and versatile. You can play just about any format video, Video_TS file, remote disks, remote streams, even pipe the output of a command into it to play. Can you say on the fly video manipulation? That's VLC.

Not to mention the main selling point, it's free.

Quicktime? Slow. Plugins? Hokey. Alternatives? Either not very "native" or buggy, slow, and prone to crashing. There is not one thing I have been unable to play with VLC that I had to use something else.

Okay, one thing. The MKV support on it is a bit of a pain. Try seeking with a 4GB MKV file.

  • 1
    Although the user interface of VLC isn't the most intuitive or best designed in the universe, it is indeed the best all-round kitchen sink multimedia player for OS X as well as most other operating systems. Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 21:34
  • @asbjor: The UI is something you have to learn. Like keeping your fingers off the keyboard while it's playing, otherwise you end up changing something like the audio delay or aspect ratio.
    – Josh K
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 21:36
  • VLC is sooooo old fashioned. They are working on a new UI for it, and a hope they'll make it happen soon. That project is called Lunettes.
    – tonklon
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 7:42

I like Movist. It has the format flexibility of VLC, but with a nicer Mac-like interface.

  • I hadn't tried it before, but just did. Cool, and nice, but it lacks support for sound delay. Subtitle delay was there though. If they add sound delay I would definitely consider switching. Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 22:10
  • Movist is really great. If you just need a media player without all that special voodoo VLC could do, give it a try.
    – tonklon
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 7:44

I vastly prefer the experience of using Quicktime with a little help from Perian and Flip4Mac to give it compatability with 90% of the video I need to play. For the rare stubborn video that does not want to cooperate with that setup, I break out VLC, because of VLC can't play it, it's just not going to play.

  • My first choice is QuickTime 7.
    – GEdgar
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 12:39

VLC is a nice player, but if you want something more Mac OS-like, try Lunettes (download link beta 8 is the last one at the time of writing).

Basically, it's VLC rewritten fully in 64 bits and Obj-C.

You do not have to build it yourself ! Just extract the .app from the zip file, that's all.

  • Nice, but you have to build it from source. I'm fine with that, but most people aren't.
    – Josh K
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 3:31
  • 1
    No ! You can directly download a zip file and use the .app …
    – Studer
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 11:34

VLC is best media player in OS X too. and it's free also.

but if you install perian in your mac (it's free too) I suggest use QuickTime. peran it's component for Quicktime to support many extension for media on mac.


I can only agree regarding VLC. It's best. I've tried quite a few (MplayerX, MplayerOSX, QuickTime and some others), since the UI is, just like on Windows, ugly and non-slick, but it still win by far.

What I like the most are all the keyboard shortcuts for everything. Currently my standard setup is to use VLC together with AirFoil. The problem then is of course the 2 second delay for sound to the AirPort Express, this is however easy to solve with the f key, delay sound 2000 ms (g reduces the delay). Or if you get hold of some subtitle that totally out of sync, use h and j to delay the text. I use this all the time. None of the others I tried have easy (if any) access to these features, and thus make the unusable for me and my lovely AirPort Express setup at home.

  • 2
    You should up cote the VLC suggestion and make this a comment rather than answering the question again with the same application.
    – drye
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 3:09
  • What I did was expand the answer as to why I liked it, and how to use it together with other software, and what other players I tried. An answer with just a name is pretty meaningless I think. I myself would've want to know why. Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 8:06

I like VLC, but I end up using Mplayer OSX Extended more often. I find the default shortcut key mappings to be more intuitive. And it's as versatile as VLC in terms of file format compatibility.


VLC really do a good job, but sometimes it fails me when dealing with some Blu-ray issue. I do a lot of homework on this, finally I got Macgo Blu-ray player. I won't say it's the best or perfect, while it meets my needs currently. There is a little friction in the playing of one disc but no big deal.

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