Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Perian + QuickTime

Update (April 2017): This blog post was written in 2006 and is no longer relevant; development of Perian and XiphQT has ceased.

If you’re a Mac user, get yourself a copy of Perian. It’s a small (less than 1 MB) add-in for QuickTime which enables it to play back a much wider range of video formats, including DivX, XVid, Flash Video, 3ivX and a number of others.

This means that, when combined with Flip4Mac (for Windows Media) and XiphQT (for Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Theora and Speex), QuickTime on OS X is capable of playing all major audio and video formats, bar RealMedia which you will still need RealPlayer for. But that means that you can get away with just 2 media players, rather than having one for Windows Media, one for QuickTime, one for DivX and VLC for everything else.

Perian is open source and is a universal binary, so it’ll work on both old and new Macs.


  1. Ahh thanks for pointing out Flip4Mac (Perian was all over the Mac news community, but it’s the first I’ve heard of Flip4Mac :/). Now I can get by with not installing Windows Media Player for the Mac.
    A question: does this then allow modern WMV files to be playable via the QuickTime plugin for Firefox (still downloading the thing on a crappy connection)?

  2. Yes, it does. It won’t allow DRM’d WMV files but everything else will play fine with the QuickTime plugin.

  3. Everyone is raving about Perian, but I keep getting a “Cannot open this movie” message. In short, it hasn’t even come close to working. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’ve restarted, shut down, reinstalled, repaired, etc., but nothing has worked.
    I am running OS 10.4.8 and Quicktime Pro 7.1.3.
    Any thoughts?

  4. @Hank
    You are copying Perian.component to /Library/QuickTime, right? If you’re playing FLVs, they might be using a rare old audio codec. If they’re AVIs, they’re probably different in some subtle way that the devs haven’t encountered (there are so many different applications that create broken AVIs that this is often the case.) Either way, you should head over to the Perian forum at and give as much info about the movies you’re trying to play as you can (codecs used, source), a sample if possible, and the developers will do their best to resolve any issues.