H.265 (or HEVC) is the official successor to H.264, with a significant reduction in bitrate for the same picture quality.

However it's not supported widely yet, including in Quicktime, iTunes or Quick Look in the Finder (cmd+space) and I haven't seen anyone talking about support in OSX 10.11 (El Capitan).

I can view files in, for example, VLC, but was wondering if there's any sort of plugin for Quick Look.


3 Answers 3


QLVideo can display metadata, thumbnails and static QuickLook previews of H.265 video (as long as the H.265 stream is packaged within a suitable container e.g. .mkv, .ts, etc).

Given the architecture of the QuickLook and QuickLookUI frameworks only Apple can add support for playable QuickLook previews. There's some discussion of this under QLVideo Issue#3.

  • 2
    I should add that if Apple does add support for H.265 in the future then QLVideo won't get in the way - it only supplies static QuickLook previews for content that QuickLookUI / AVFoundation can't handle.
    – Marginal42
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 16:01

It has been a long while since this was posted, but as QuickLook still doesn't show previews of HEVC streams in MP4 containers by default, I will add my 2 cents for the Googlers who will end up here trying to find a solution.

Apple operating systems expect the "hvc1" tag to properly recognise HEVC streams in MP4 containers.

Once this tag is added, macOS will properly display QuickLook previews, iTunes will properly recognise the video for the purpose of syncing with devices, and supporting devices like iPhones will recognise the video for playback from Gallery.

Example using ffmpeg:

# -tag:v hvc1 enables support by most Apple devices
ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v hevc_videotoolbox -q:v 65 -tag:v hvc1 -c:a copy output.mp4

# note: if source is already in h265 there is no need to re-encode, in that case just use -c:v copy
  • Thanks. That helped Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 8:06
  • Fantastic, tx! Working from me in 14.1.1 👍 The following adaption will copy all streams, rather than re-encoding (took about 14s for a 2hr+ movie, no change in size): ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v hevc_videotoolbox -tag:v hvc1 -c copy output.mp4
    – ptim
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 8:57

QuickLook's API is not all that great. It's meant for documents that can be displayed in a single frame, like text or photographs. There is no way that I know of (or apparently anyone else) to have QuickLook play movies. Apple obviously can, but they're clearly using APIs that the rest of us do not have access to.

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