What Is QuickTime?


Apple introduced QuickTime in 1990 and revolutionized digital video playback on computers by providing it via external hardware such as laserdisc players. It quickly established Apple as an expert in multimedia software solutions.

QuickTime features advanced H.264 video compression technology that helps lower storage and bandwidth requirements, helping reduce storage needs as well as bandwidth requirements.


QuickTime was developed and released by Apple as the world’s first mass market digital video format for PCs back in 1991, becoming an essential part of MPEG-4 video standard used on everything from mobile phones to 4K streaming TVs.

Compression was key to making QuickTime work; uncompressed video could consume several gigabytes of disk space at one time when most Mac hard drives had only 40 MB capacity. A special algorithm known as a codec was required for this feat; Apple used Road Pizza (originally written on an ATG PowerPC-equipped Macintosh), which used their proprietary Apple Video architecture, enabling a single compressed bitstream which could then be decoded back into HD video quality.

QuickTime Player’s intuitive timeline enables video clips to be added and edited seamlessly, providing cutting, trimming, splitting and merging tools as well as drag-and-drop files directly into it for editing or import them via Import Media from folders such as YouTube. Once imported, clips can be moved around using dock at bottom window window dock for ordering into desired sequence. Meanwhile arrows either side of timeline allow trimming/cutting video segments.

Another useful feature of MediaLibrary is its ability to remove audio from video clips, as well as vice versa. Users simply select a clip in Media Library, click Edit > Remove Audio or Remove Video on the menu bar, and save footage as an individual mp4 file.

For long, multi-camera productions, it may be beneficial to take advantage of QuickTime’s scene detection function which automatically detaches video segments based on scenes in the original footage. This enables editors to avoid unnecessary preparation shots while focusing on engaging their audiences through actual video content. Users can select footage, then click scissors icon to cut section. Yellow trimming edges called handles indicate which sections will be removed.


QuickTime is a multimedia framework comprised of codecs (compression/decompression) and playback engines to handle different audio, video and graphic file formats. Additionally, QuickTime features various encoding/transcoding options for conversion from one format to another; various graphic effects including transitions/titles as well as captioning/subtitling functionality for videos; it can even synchronize sound and video, making QuickTime useful both in terms of development of multimedia applications as well as broadcast over the Internet.

QuickTime’s framework comprises several components, with its core being the QuickTime Player being freely downloadable and used by consumers. A QuickTime software development kit (SDK), supported by C programming language or Java-supporting languages like AppleScript is also provided to developers for creating multimedia applications that run on either macOS or Windows platforms.

QuickTime is well known as a media player, but it also can create and edit QuickTime Movie files. These have an innovative high-speed mode which enables editing at up to 60X the speed of traditional QuickTime movies without loss in quality – ideal for cutting clips to size, adjusting their start times or merging tracks of an audio/movie file.

QuickTime movies make it easy to add audio tracks. Simply launch the QuickTime Player, choose “File” > “Open File”, select both files you wish to add and copy/paste them onto the clipboard with Edit > Copy before opening the QuickTime movie with its playhead at its beginning and using Edit > Add to Movie to complete this step.

QuickTime’s screen recording window lets you capture system sound by selecting either “Record Entire Screen” or “Record Selected Portion.” Before you begin your recording, click the arrow next to the red Record button and choose either Internal Microphone (internal mic) or external audio device name from its list if available on your computer. Afterward, to stop and close out of QuickTime screen recording window use Stop Button from the Menu Bar.


QuickTime provides support for various file formats related to still images, audio and video playback as well as various codecs for these file types – for instance AAC, AIFF and MP3 audio formats and DV and XVID video, including popular and specialty codecs like Apple ProRes, Sorenson Cinepak 3GP H.261 through H.265.

QuickTime provides access to media formats on a Mac computer through either its native QuickTime player, or through plug-ins installed by other applications. Many programs that use Mac operating system incorporate QuickTime components or use its libraries “behind-the-scenes”, such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Avid video editing suites to produce high-quality digital movies for distribution.

QuickTime’s extended specification goes beyond standard movie file formats to support an atom format structure used to store metadata about file contents and properties. In addition, an expanded header includes child count information as well as size and type fields to provide readers with essential knowledge regarding how a file should be handled.

QuickTime also supports another atom type known as the tmcd atom for timecode data storage, which can help users producing archived and historical recordings to better identify how films or video programs were made. Furthermore, QuickTime supports creating multiple timecode tracks which may provide insights into the editing and assembly processes involved with any particular piece of video content.

QuickTime can support numerous file formats by using external codecs, making use of QuickTime’s software development kit (SDK). Developers can add support for these file formats and codecs through its components; often these extensions are free from third-party vendors. Furthermore, this SDK enables multimedia application development on both Macs and PCs using C or other supported languages on Windows using ActiveX/COM/ActiveX for development of multimedia applications.

Web Pages

QuickTime was developed by Apple as one of the earliest programs to bring video playback capabilities directly onto personal computers, revolutionizing personal computing, multimedia and the Internet since 1991. Today however, its relevance remains questionable in an Internet and mobile-driven world.

The QuickTime plugin is available for various browsers, including Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, and can be used to play many types of media files including video and audio. When users click links that require QuickTime plugin support, they will open automatically in that browser – the QuickTime plugin may even be configured specifically to handle specific file types.

QuickTime can play back audio and video files as well as VR (Virtual Reality) panoramas and objects, and is capable of rendering real-time graphics, animation, and text in Web pages using browser plug-ins.

Apple QuickTime player supports many file formats, however there may be restrictions when it comes to viewing movie files created with different software applications – for instance Adobe Flash movies will not play back in QuickTime player unless created using another program that produces movies in similar format as original file. To ensure compatibility, it may be worthwhile opting for software which creates movies in similar ways as original.

If you want to play back files that aren’t supported by QuickTime, such as those produced with Macromedia Director (mov files), additional software must be installed – for example Macromedia Director must be installed separately in order for them to play back properly.

QuickTime plugin is incompatible with all browsers; specifically Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox aren’t supported. If you experience issues with it, first make sure that it was properly installed – otherwise uninstall and reinstall to try to resolve this.

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