i'm trying to convert some video that many people say can only be done using FFMPEG. so i go to the ffmpeg.org website and am completely confused as to what to download. i go to the downloads page, click on the Apple (since i use Mac) and it gives 2 "OS X Packages" options... "Static builds for OS X Intel 64-bit" & "Builds 32-bit and 64-bit for OS X 10.5 and above"!

if i click on the first option (Static builds for OS X Intel 64-bit), i'm then presented with 2 big green buttons to choose from for "FFmpeg", "FFserver", "FFprobe", & "FFplay" - i've not heard of the last 3 so i'm assuming the "FFmpeg" section is what i need. but then there are 2 big green buttons there: 1) ffmpeg-86281-g2413397 & 2) ffmpeg-3.3.1.

if i click on the second option (Builds 32-bit and 64-bit for OS X 10.5 and above), it takes me to a different website at ffmpegmac.net. here, i'm again given 2 choices to download: 1) "Lion_Mountain_Lion_Mavericks_Yosemite_El-Captain_15.05.2017.zip" & 2) "ffmpeg-3.3.1.tar.bz2". there is a "How To" page but that's just a bunch of gibberish to a non-programmer like me.

there's all these terms i'm not familiar with, like, compile, binary, source, snapshot, builds, etc.

i went ahead & downloaded all 4 of the above mentioned downloads but none of them are apps. one is a folder full of code files & the others are some sort of "exec" files.

so then i started google'ing & am finding seemingly conflicting instructions on how to get this program installed & how to use it...

ericholsinger.com/install-ffmpeg-on-a-mac - has a long & detailed steps on what they say to do.
but then there's,
idiotinside.com/2016/05/01/ffmpeg-mac-os-x - which claims its much easier to use something called "homebrew".
but then there's,
oodlestechnologies.com/blogs/Easiest-Way-To-Install-FFmpeg-On-Mac-OS-X - which also says to use homebrew but says you have to have "Xcode" first.
but then there's,
...take your pick; there's just way too many options & this just seems way more complex than it seems it should be.

so, can anybody boil this down to a simple/easy way to use this program on a Mac?

and yes, i've tried MANY other video converting apps (including handbrake & VLC) but none works to get an m3u8 converted to mp4. and yes, i've learned it's because it's a text file with links to segmented files - but others have said using ffmpeg in terminal with a single line of code will download these & fix them together into a playable mp4.


2 Answers 2


The easiest way to convert video on the Mac is to use Handbrake. It is easily downloaded and installed and includes the same libraries as ffmpeg. (I know you say it doesn't work in your case but I include it here for others who might end up at this question.)

The version of ffmpeg you want is the 64-bit static build, preferably in a DMG as that is the easiest one to install. Using homebrew would be an even easier way to get it installed.

As for homebrew it is fairly well explained on their home page. You don't actually need XCode, just the XCode command line tools which homebrew will download for you the first time you use it to install something.

Once you install ffmpeg then man ffmpeg will get you the manual for it. You might prefer

man -t ffmpeg | open -f -a /Applications/Preview.app/

which will open the man page in Preview where you can read it more easily, or even print it.

  • thank you. but the static build option doesn't provide any DMG's, just the 2 7z archive types. SO confusing, so i tried the Homebrew option. that worked for getting ffmpeg installed; now i just gotta figure out how to use it. clearly these tools aren't meant for the common person. :-) Jun 2, 2017 at 17:45

This can take some guess-work out of working with FFmpeg : https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/35846/ffworks

  • 1
    Welcome to Ask Different and thank you for your answer. :) Unfortunately, short answers such as this don't really provide enough detail or context to help many users. And, just providing a link isn't very helpful as it may no longer work in future. Instead, could you please edit your answer (there's an edit link below it) to include a summary of the content you're linking to? This will help preserve your answer for other users who may benefit in future.
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    Jun 7, 2018 at 3:19

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