Promising prospect: Perian

Over the years, Apple’s QuickTime software has become more and more versatile, supporting many more formats today than it did just a few years ago. And thanks to Telestream’s now-free Flip4Mac plug-in, you can even view files in Windows Media format (Windows Media 9 or earlier, at least).

But there are still formats QuickTime doesn’t support. If you’re determined, you can find and install other third-party QuickTime plug-ins to supplement QuickTime’s built-in compatibility, but it’s a hassle if you need support for multiple formats. That’s why Perian 0.5 (free) is so appealing. This QuickTime component incorporates support for a good number of media formats; once installed—you simply drop it into /Library/QuickTime (for use by all users of your Mac) or ~/Library/QuickTime (for use in only your own account) and then restart any app that uses QuickTime (QuickTime Player, your browser, and iTunes, to name a few)—QuickTime and QuickTime-enabled apps will automagically support a number of new formats:

  • 3ivX
  • AVI
  • DivX
  • DivX 3.11 alpha
  • Flash Screen Video (version 1)
  • FLV
  • MS-MPEG4 v1
  • MS-MPEG4 v2
  • MS-MPEG4 v3
  • Sorenson H.263
  • Truemotion VP6
  • XviD

In addition, Perian also allows QuickTime to play back many AVI files that contain H.264, MPEG4, AAC, AC3 Audio, and VBR MP3 content within the AVI. (More info about supported formats is available here; you can also view a list of other QuickTime plug-ins Perian supposedly makes obsolete.)

Although the current release is just 0.5—a beta—Perian is already earning raves around the Web for letting Mac users view many multimedia files they’ve been unable to enjoy before. For example, I’ve been able to play—and convert—in QuickTime Player and QuickTime-enabled apps a number of .flv files that previously required MPlayer. If you’ve found content you can’t view, give Perian a try, and then let us know how it worked for you by clicking the Comment link below.

Perian works with Mac OS X 10.4.7 or later and is a Universal binary.

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