So enough with the long post titles and security for a little while (I might return to it later though!).

I have been using VLC for watching DVD’s and movie files on my MacBook so far and apart from a few crashes (I am using nightly builds of the universal binary, so that is forgivable :) it is suiting me pretty well and while it doesn’t play everything it does a great job with most things.

Stepping back a little, part of my initial dislike for Apple came from QuickTime because it (along with iTunes of course) is pretty much the only exposure to Apple software that your average Windows user has. The main reason I didn’t get along with these apps was based around the memory and CPU overhead of running them (especially iTunes) but it also really annoyed me that the free version was so crippled, lack of full screen playback being the biggest shock. Now I am on Mac OS, there is no overhead and both QuickTime and iTunes load in a reasonable amount of time and don’t eat massive amounts of memory although the silly restrictions on QuickTime Player are still there.

QuickTime Error

Anyway, on with today’s issue. I double clicked an AVI file today and QuickTime Player launched to play it (I hadn’t associated AVI’s with VLC) and I was presented with the error message on the right.

I click the continue button and QuickTime is going to install the new codec/plug-in that I need to view this? Unfortunately not, clicking the button opens a browser and a web page full of plug-ins. No indication of which one I need at all.

QuickTime Plugin's

The movie file I want to watch is probably XviD or DivX format (although I have to guess this because the original error message is so vague) so I start reading the descriptions of the plug-ins on the web site. Nothing sounds promising so I search the page looking for any mention of DivX or XviD, nothing. There are 11 plug-ins and codecs here, what am I supposed to do, install them all?

Consider a complete newbie coming across this. Do they need the “powerful, faster-than-real-time nondestructive codec” or the “ACT-L2 Codec” that “delivers full-screen, full-motion video of VHS/DVD quality at 200 – 1200 Kbps.”. Go read that page as a user without technical knowledge, it is terribly written.

Now, I haven’t actually downloaded any of those plug-ins because I don’t think I need them (but please correct me if any of them do actually contain a DivX or XviD codec) and I did find codec plug-ins for both formats with fairly simple Google searches but this is still a horrible user experience.

I have now associated AVI with VLC and I won’t have to worry about it again but I had to blog it because it sticks out like a sore thumb amongst much of the other bundled software, the majority of which is very well written and usable.

On the same subject, I hear that Flip4Mac is finally going to release a universal binary beta of their WMV3 plug-in for QuickTime. This hasn’t been a major issue for me yet and the only movies I have come across that won’t play are those from Channel 9 but it is good to know because QuickTime under Rosetta is like running it under Windows again :)

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22 responses to “QuickTime

  1. I seriously need to stop rambling on, this was meant to be a short post :D

  2. Actually, you’re touching on all the things I struggled with head on. That’s why I like this blog.

    Apple’s policy regarding QuickTime is puzzling to say the least. Why do you want to irritate users with crippled video software? I’m sure they’ve more than recouped their development costs over the years and it’s ridiculous to pay like $30 (twice if you want MPEG2 support) for features that should be there. iTunes is a much more capable piece of software and they give that out for free. The Apple hardware/software bundle is well pricey enough, just tack on another $60 if you will.

    That’s probably why there are so many QuickTime users named “Pablo/nop” who get the MPEG2 component from Pirate Bay. Of course, I would never condone such illegal activity but the sentiment is understandable when there are good tools like VLC for free. Apple should just acknowledge this and make the video experience suck less for the ordinary user–especially if they have ambitions on being a home media center.

  3. As for Flip4Mac – after a long fighting I’m happy with Popwire WMV-9 Component for QuickTime. Works very well. Much better than Flip4Mac

  4. DivX for Mac OS X QuickTime on Intel?
    See http://labs.divx.com/node?from=10
    (DivX 6: This installs a DivX plugin for QuickTime, it works fine for me, also compatible with iMovie)

  5. @Johannes

    “I did find codec plug-ins for both formats with fairly simple Google searches”

    Thanks for the link but I found the DivX and XviD ones pretty easily, it was the general experience I didnt like :) I might remove the paragraph about Flip4Mac thing because I think it might be confusing the post as that has nothing to do with DivX or XviD but WMV3 instead.

  6. You can get a preview build of the XviD component here as well…

  7. The lack of fullscreen in QuickTime Player is really lame. The free way around it is to run the following script:

    tell application “QuickTime Player”
    present movie 1
    end tell

    If you save it in ~/Library/Scripts/Applications/QuickTime Player/, and enable the script menu (via the AppleScript Utility in /Applications/AppleScript/), it will show up in the script menu under QuickTime Player Scripts, and will only appear when QuickTime Player is the frontmost app.

  8. Flip4Mac is the best thing for me. UB version is on it’s way, too. It does lots more than Popwire (which won’t stream web content). Check this blog for info bits, etc: http://flip4mac.blogspot.com/

  9. The QuickTime components issue is a major bugbear of mine. It’s one area of the user experience that Apple has really neglected, whilst at the same time shouting about how great Macs are for media (which they are… once you’re all set up).

  10. Codec’s are easy to install in Quicktime once you understand them. It took me forever to figure it out, but all Quicktimes Codecs/Plugins are stored in /Library/Quicktime. The only substantial ones I have in there that arent DV related are “3ivx D4 4.5.1 for OSX” and “DivX 6 Decoder.component”. Just search for those and drag them into that directory and you should be fine to play any file. Only ones I cannot play are WMV3…damn porn!

    I didnt even know Quicktime components/Codecs needed to be universal to work. I always figured the Intel version of Quicktime would interpret the components differently.

  11. I agree. I think they need to update the entire process so that QT can accurately assess what is missing (what codec) and dynamically generate a page to suggest where they can download something to allow them to play the file. It’s more like an advertisement page and doesn’t tell anyone what they “need” for the file they are trying to open.

  12. Wow, what timing. I was having the same problem today and could not figure it out. So instead of researching it I purchased Quicktime Pro thinking it would fix the problem. And like all of you already know, it did not. So I downloaded VLC, and also the codec for quicktime. Now that I have both I will probably be using the Quicktime since I already paid the money for it!

  13. I’ve been dealing with this kind of stuff in Windows 4ever, but here I’m kindda lost…

    If I use VLC do I need the actual codecs for Divx, Xvid, AC3 installed? Or VLC already have them?

    And the Popwire, is it a Quicktime component (codec)?

    Can someone that already did it, post the step (and maybe links) to the files/codecs/apps they’ve installed

  14. @Paolo

    “If I use VLC do I need the actual codecs for Divx, Xvid, AC3 installed? Or VLC already have them?”

    No codec’s needed, just download it and it will play all of its formats.

  15. You can just use DivX Doctor II found on the 3ivx.com website

  16. vlc plays everything for me now, except WMV (I have a lot of mkv files with ac3 audio+wmv9 video, so i cannot watch those :@ )

    im gonna try the divx stuff for quicktime and the flip or popwire for wmv.. im so pissed, with my new macbook pro I cant play cool stuff with front row , damn quicktime! :P

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