When you need to play a video on your Mac, what do you do? Which app do you open? If you’re new to macOS, you might just double-click on the media file and it’s likely that QuickTime Player will start up — good enough for the most common tasks.
Soon though you’re bound to feel QuickTime’s limitations. It might be that you’ve transferred a file from your camera that’s not supported, or you want to watch a foreign movie with external subtitles. All this is difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish with QuickTime Player. You need to upgrade.
What Makes VLC Player For Mac Good
From the first moments of looking for a better media player, VLC for Mac is going to show up in search results again and again. The app is free, has good ratings, and seems to be universally loved. There’s even a version for your iPhone (and nearly every other operating system in existence). What’s not to like?
The official story of VLC player goes back to 1996, when a few students of École Centrale Paris in France developed the app as their academic project. Back then, they called it VideoLAN Client (VLC for short). As VLC player got more and more recognition and became popular worldwide, the original developers released the code under the open-source license, so that anyone could fix bugs and contribute new features.
By now, VLC player is available on Windows, macOS, iOS, Apple TV, Linux, Android, Chrome OS, and Xbox One. The only question left is how to find a VLC for Mac download.
How to get a VLC download for Mac
Unfortunately, due to some licensing issues, VLC player for Mac isn’t available on the App Store (although the iOS version is). With a simple Google search you’ll find that lots of third-party websites offer you VLC for Mac downloads — but beware! Such download files are often infected with various kinds of malware looking to find an easy way into your computer.
The only option that’s 100% safe is to find a VLC download for Mac on its official website:
Go to videolan.org/vlc
Click Download VLC
Double-click the .dmg file in your Downloads folder
Move the VLC icon into Applications
With regards to technical requirements, VLC player is supported by any 64-bit Intel-based Mac that runs macOS 10.7.5 or later (the latest one is 10.15). This covers 99% of Macs in use nowadays. And even if you need to make VLC player work with ancient Macs, older VLC versions are available for download from the official website as well.
To play a video on VLC for Mac:
Either drag the video you like onto the app’s window or go to File ➙ Open File… ➙ select the video ➙ Open
One of the most beloved VLC media player features is adding and fine-tuning external subtitles. When you’ve downloaded the .srt subtitle file you want to use:
In the menu bar of the VLC player, click Subtitles
Add Subtitle File… ➙ select the file ➙ Open
In the same Subtitles menu you can change the text size, thickness, color as well as the background color
With so much to offer, why would anyone choose any other app for their videos than VLC player? True, while QuickTime Player struggles with nearly every video encounter, VLC for Mac handles all the basics pretty well. But there’s so much more to discover in the land of video-playing features: multiple subtitles, audio extractions, ad-free web playback, AirPlay streaming, etc. Let’s see which VLC alternative for Mac offers it all.
Stream anything anytime with Elmedia Player
If VLC media player for Mac is a shell you can open content in, Elmedia Player is a full-on entertainment center. Get any videos you want anytime, thanks to its streaming functionality. The app is able to play videos instanlty without any ads or slowdowns.
Moreover, any videos can then be easily played on your AirPlay-enabled devices — watch a movie on a big screen with Apple TV, for example, without the need for USB drives or awkward cables. And while VLC media player might get stuck playing HD videos on a big screen, Elmedia will sail through them seamlessly with the help of hardware-accelerated decoding.
Gain full video control with Movist Pro
As good as Elmedia Player is, the ultimate VLC alternative for Mac could be a mighty 4K movie player called Movist Pro.
Movist Pro not only effortlessly decodes any video you come across (with an option to select decoders manually if needed) but also lets you configure the perfect video-watching scenario, including the quality and the size of each file.
If you want to watch a high-dynamic-range (HDR) video, but your screen doesn’t support it, the colors will show up dull and faded. Movist Pro features a built-in HDR tone-mapping technology that automatically adjusts colors to what they are supposed to be.
While nearly every VLC alternative for Mac lacks powerful subtitle management that VLC is known for, Movist Pro takes it a step further with support for multiple subtitles at once — invaluable when you’re trying to learn a new language or watching a movie with a bunch of international friends.
Finally, using the Movist Pro Safari extension, you can watch any video right from your browser window, with any of the above personal settings already specified.
How to start with Movist Pro? One step only: simply drag and drop your video onto the app and enjoy.
The best VLC alternative for Mac
So while some might argue that VLC media player for Mac is still good, the truth is — lots has changed since 1996. New entrants like Elmedia Player with its built-in downloader and ad-free streaming, or Movist Pro with multiple-subtitle support and HDR improvement are winning the market. The one you choose should quite frankly depend on the features you’re going to use the most.
Best of all, you don’t need to go all in and buy Elmedia Player or Movist Pro to see how they work. Both apps are available to you on a free seven-day trial from Setapp — a platform with over 150 Mac apps, where each one is the best for a particular task, whether it’s budgeting, retouching, or just getting things done. What might you be watching tonight?