Tip #1273: What is an MKV File?

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1273: What is an MKV File?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

MKV files, like QuickTime or MXF, are containers that hold media files.

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This morning, a reader emailed me a question asking whether MKV files are supported in Big Sur. That got me thinking about what an MKV file is.

According to HowToGeek.com, “MKV files are actually multimedia container formats. An MKV container can incorporate audio, video, and subtitles into a single file—even if those elements use different types of encoding….
MKV container files were designed to be future proof, meaning that the files would not become outdated.”

Features of an MKV file include:

  • Fast seeking
  • Chapter, menu, and metadata support
  • Different selectable audio and video streams
  • Online streaming compatibility
  • Subtitle (hard-coded and soft-coded) support
  • Error recovery, which allows for playback of corrupted files

The MKV container itself also supports almost any audio and video format, making the format highly adaptive and easy to use. However, while the MKV file may not become outdated, the players that support them can. For example, QuickTime Player does not support MKV files.

Here’s a list, published by Wondershare, of the top 10 MKV players for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

So, as for compatibility, if your MKV player runs on Big Sur, the MKV files should play as well.

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