What Is an MOV File?

This is a video file that can also include audio and text

What to Know

  • An MOV file is an Apple QuickTime Movie file.
  • Open one with iTunes, VLC, Google Drive, and other media players.
  • Convert to video formats like MP4 with FileZigZag or another video converter tool.

This article describes what MOV files are, how to open one, and how to convert one to a format that'll work on your device.

What Is an MOV File?

A file with the MOV file extension is an Apple QuickTime Movie file that's stored in a QuickTime File Format (QTFF) container file.

An MOV file can store audio, video, and text in the same file through different tracks, or the tracks can point to data stored elsewhere in another file.

Apple devices like iPhones and iPads are a common place to see MOV files because that's the default file format that those devices record video in.

MOV Files
MOV Files.

Apple QuickTime Movie files generally use the .MOV file extension, but some may be saved with the .QT. .MOVIE, or .MOOV extension instead.

How to Open an MOV File

Apple's iTunes and QuickTime programs, VLC, Windows Media Player, and Elmedia Player are all able to play MOV files.

If your Apple QuickTime Movie file has the .QT or .MOVIE file extension, you probably need to use QuickTime unless you want to try renaming the file extension to .MOV.

Another way to open MOV files on a computer is by using Google Drive. This method has you upload the video to that online storage service, meaning that not only are you backing it up online but you're also making it streamable from any browser or mobile device (through the Google Drive app).

If when you double-click the MOV file, it opens in a program other than the one you want to use it with (like WMP instead of VLC), here's how to change the default program for a specific file extension. However, if your file isn't opening at all in any of those MOV players, skip down to the bottom of this page for help.

How to Convert an MOV File

Not all media players, devices, online file storage services, and websites support the MOV format. In those instances, you can convert the MOV file to a new format to make it usable for your specific situation.

The best way to convert the MOV file is to use a free file converter like Any Video Converter. Most of them let you convert MOV to MP4, WMV, AVI, and other digital media file formats, or even directly to a DVD. Some can also extract the audio from the MOV file and save it as an MP3.

Even the VLC media player program mentioned above, which can open MOV files, can also convert them to formats like MP4. This is accomplished through VLC's Media > Convert / Save menu option. Browse for the MOV file and then use that option to choose an output format.

Video files are normally pretty large, so your best bet is to use a dedicated video converter program. However, if you have a small video file, or you don't mind waiting for it to upload, you can also convert an MOV file with an online converter like Zamzar or FileZigZag. These are examples of websites that can save a MOV file to a GIF file (they also support many other export formats).

More Information on MOV Files

MP4 and MOV files are similar in that they are both lossy compression formats, meaning parts of the file are trimmed in order to result in a smaller file size. This is why you often see MP4 and MOV files as the format of choice for videos distributed online.

However, the MP4 container format is much more common than MOV and so is supported by a wider variety of software and hardware devices.

Still Can't Open the File?

If your file doesn't open with the programs mentioned here, it's possible that you're misreading the file extension. Some file formats use file extensions that look almost identical, and it can be confusing when trying to open one because it might just look like it uses the .MOV file extension when it really doesn't.

One example is the MAV file extension, which is reserved for Access View files used with Microsoft Access. MAV files have nothing to do with videos, so trying to open one in a MOV-compatible video player like VLC, for example, will not work.

Another is MKV. Even though MKV and MOV are both video file formats, they don't always work with the same programs. In other words, an MKV opener on your computer might not work with MOV files, and vice versa.

The same is true for MOD, MODD, MMV, and probably many other file formats.

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