Viewing QuickTime Movies

You can view QuickTime movies in various contexts, such as from your hard drive, CD-ROMs, the Web, using QuickTime TV, and so on. Although the appearance of the QuickTime Player controls varies a bit between these contexts, the viewing controls work similarly.


You can watch QuickTime movies without upgrading to the Pro version. However, if you don't upgrade, you will see a dialog box urging you to upgrade the first time you open QuickTime Player each day. You can choose to upgrade later, or you can use this dialog box to upgrade immediately. Not having to see this dialog box might be one of the best reasons to upgrade!

Setting QuickTime Player Preferences

QuickTime Player is the basic application you use to view and edit QuickTime movies. There are some preferences you might want to set by choosing QuickTime Player, Preferences, Player Preferences. The options in the resulting Player Preferences dialog box are as shown here:

  • Open Movie If you check the "Open movie in new players" check box, each movie you open will appear in a new QuickTime Player window rather than replacing the current movie. When you edit movies, you will probably have several open at the same time, so you should check this box so that you don't have to keep opening and closing the movies with which you are working.

  • Auto-Play If you check the "Automatically play movies when opened" check box, movies will begin to play as soon as you open them.

  • Only Front Movie Plays Sound If the "Play sound in frontmost player only" check box is checked and you have more than one movie playing, only the movie in the frontmost QuickTime Player window will produce sound.

  • Play Sound in Background When the "Play sound when application is in background" check box is checked, a movie's sound will continue to play when you move a movie into the background.

  • Hot Picks Checking the "Show Hot Picks movie automatically" check box means that when you launch QuickTime Player, it will go to the Internet to check for an Apple "hot pick" movie and display that movie in the window (you can choose to watch it or not). This is checked by default. If you don't want to see the hot pick each time you launch the application, you should uncheck the check box.

Watching QuickTime Movies from Your Hard Drive or CD-ROM

If you use a VCR, CD, or DVD player, you won't have any trouble using the basic QuickTime Player controls (see Figure 17.3). Find a QuickTime movie that is on your hard drive or a CD-ROM and open it.

Figure 17.3. The QuickTime Player window provides the basic controls you use to watch and edit QuickTime movies; it has many more commands you can access on the menus or by keyboard shortcuts.



QuickTime movie files use the extension .mov. If you don't know where a QuickTime movie is, use the Finder to search for files with this extension.

To use the Finder to search for files, see "Finding Files and Folders on Your Mac," p. 93.


If the Hot Pick option is enabled, when you open the QuickTime Player, it will search for the current "hot pick" movie and display that movie (or a few frames of the movie) in the window. Usually, you can click on the image to move to the Web to view the movie in its entirety. If the hot pick movies annoy you, disable them using the QuickTime Player preferences setting.

A QuickTime Player window will appear and the movie will be displayed (see Figure 17.3).

Most of the controls in the QuickTime Player window are easily understood. For example, the Review button plays the movie in reverse, the Preview button plays the movie in fast forward mode, and so on.

However, you need to become familiar with the less obvious parts of the QuickTime Player window, especially if you have never worked with digital video before. The current frame is shown in the viewing window (if you haven't played the movie, it is the first frame in the movie). Just below the viewing window, you will see the movie's Timeline bar (also known as the Scrubber bar). This represents the total length of the movie. The location of the Playhead shows where in the movie the current frame is located. As you play a movie, the Playhead moves to the right in the Timeline bar so that it always shows the location of the frame being shown in the viewing window.

At the left edge of the Timeline bar, you see the timecode. The timecode represents the location of the Playhead in the following format: Minutes:Seconds:FrameNumber. For example, if you see 2:34:10, the Playhead is located on the 10th frame of the 34th second of the second minute of the movie.

The crop markers are used to select parts of a movie when you are editing it. The start (or left) crop marker shows the start of a selection, and the stop (or right) crop marker shows the end of the selection. The shaded area between the crop markers shows the frames that have been selected.

Control the size of the movie using the commands on the Movie menu. Increasing the size of a movie beyond the size at which it was created will sometimes decrease its image quality and frame rate. With some movies, this is hardly noticeable; with others, increasing the size can make the movie unwatchable. You can experiment to see which size is the best compromise for a particular movie on your specific system.


You can also change the size of the QuickTime Player window using the Resize handle. The window will remain in proportion to the size in which the movie was created. If you hold down the Shift key, you can resize the window any way you want (with sometimes amusing effects on the movie itself). You can quickly return a movie to its default size by choosing Movie, Normal Size or by pressing graphics/symbol.gif+1.

Click the Play button to view the movie and use the Volume slider to adjust its sound level.


To mute a movie, click the speaker icon at the left edge of the Volume slider.

QuickTime Player offers many keyboard shortcuts; to learn what shortcuts are available, see "Using QuickTime Player Keyboard Shortcuts," p. 530.

You can get more control over the sound using the Sound controls; display them by choosing Movie, Show Sound Controls. The Timeline bar will be replaced by sliders for balance, bass, and treble. Use the sliders to make the changes you want. Choose Movie, Hide Sound Commands to return to the Timeline bar view.

Similarly, you can control the brightness of the movie using the Video controls; choose Movie, Show Video Controls to display the Brightness bar. Click and drag the Brightness bar to the right to make the movie brighter or to the left to make it less bright; choose Movie, Hide Video Controls when you are done.


When you minimize a movie, it moves onto the Dock and continues to play.

That's about all there is to viewing movies. However, you can fine-tune your movie experience using some of the other playback commands listed in Table 17.2.

Table 17.2. Summary of QuickTime Player Playback Controls
Command Keyboard Command What It Does
Movie, Loop graphics/symbol.gif+L Makes the movie play in a continuous loop. Choose the command again to make the movie "unloop."
Movie, Loop Back and forth None Makes movie play in a continuous loop, but it plays forward until it reaches the end of the movie. Then it plays in reverse. When it reaches the beginning again, it plays forward.
Movie, Size commands graphics/symbol.gif+0 through Changes the size of the movie window.
 graphics/symbol.gif+2 The choices are Half Size, Normal Size
 graphics/symbol.gif+F (the size at which the movie was created), and Double Size.
Movie, Full Screen graphics/symbol.gif+F The Full Screen dialog box will appear. Choose the movie size from the pop-up menu, choose the Normal or Slideshow option, and click Play. When the movie plays, the QuickTime Player window will disappear (as will your desktop) and all you will see is the movie itself. When the movie is done, you will return to the QuickTime Player window. If you choose the Slideshow mode, you have to click the mouse button or Spacebar to move through each frame of the movie.
Movie, Play Selection Only graphics/symbol.gif+T Plays only the frames you have selected using the crop markers.
Movie, Play All Frames None Causes the entire movie to play, regardless of the frames you have selected.
Movie, Play All Movies None Plays all the movies you have open.
Movie, Go to Poster Frame None Every QuickTime movie has a poster frame; this is the frame that appears when the movie is first opened. By default, this is the first frame in the movie. Choosing this command moves you to the poster frame for the current movie.
Movie, Set Poster Frame None Sets the poster frame for the current movie.
Movie, Choose Language None QuickTime movies can contain tracks that provide different languages. If the movie you are watching has multiple language tracks, use this command to choose the one you want to hear.


If you use multiple monitors and choose the Full Screen option, you can select the monitor on which the movie plays in the Full Screen dialog box.


QuickTime movies can also be inserted into many types of documents, such as Word files, PowerPoint presentations, and so on. When you view such a file, you will see a "mini" QuickTime controller that enables you to watch the movie that is embedded in a particular document. Applications can add or remove controls to customize the interface you see in that application, but when you understand how to view movies with the QuickTime Player, you won't have any trouble with these other controllers.

Watching QuickTime Movies on the Web

QuickTime is a major format for movies on the Web. Using the QuickTime plug-in, you can watch QuickTime movies from within a Web browser, such as Internet Explorer. When you do so, you use controls that are quite similar to those in the QuickTime Player application.

One of the best places to view QuickTime movies is at Apple's Movie Trailer site. Here, you can view trailers for the latest creations from Hollywood.


If you use a slow Internet connection, watching movies, such as the movie trailers on the Apple Web site, can be an exercise in patience. High-quality movie files are big. Watching them on the Web, even with the streaming feature and the MPEG-4 format, can take more time than it is worth. If you use a dial-up account, try watching some movies to see whether you can tolerate the length of time that it takes to download enough of the movie so that you can begin watching it. If you can, great. If not, you might have to find smaller movies to watch or, even better, move up to a high-bandwidth connection. You can also use the Instant-On preference to configure the delay before a movie begins to play.

  1. Go to

  2. Click a trailer to view it. What happens next depends on how the particular trailer has been created. Related to the previous caution, many of the trailers on the Apple site are offered in different versions, which are sized to be appropriate for various connection speeds. Usually, there are three choices: low (for dial-up connections), medium (for DSL, slower cable, or ISDN connections), and high (for faster cable modem or T-1 connections).

  3. Click the size that your connection supports. You will see a window that contains QuickTime controls you can use to watch the trailer (see Figure 17.4).

    Figure 17.4. This trailer, for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, is an example of how movie trailers can be viewed from the Web.


  4. Some movies will display a link labeled "Click Here to Play Movie." If so, click that link to begin the movie streaming. Other movies will begin to stream as soon as the new window opens.

    The movie will begin to play as soon as enough has been downloaded to your Mac so that the trailer will play continuously. If you use a fast connection and use the Instant-On feature, this will happen quickly. If you use a slow dial-up connection or have configured a delay using the Instant-On slider, it can take longer. You can see how much of a movie has been downloaded by looking at the dark shaded part of the Timeline bar.


    You can start a movie at any time by pressing the Spacebar. If you don't wait for the automatic start, the movie might stop before it finishes if it "runs out" of downloaded movie before it gets to the end.

  5. Use the QuickTime controls listed in Table 17.3 to control playback.


If you can only download a QuickTime movie from the Web rather than being able to view it, see "I Can't View QuickTime Movies on the Web" in the Troubleshooting section at the end of this chapter.

Table 17.3. QuickTime Controls for Web Movies
Control Function
Volume Click the volume button and a slider will pop up. Use the slider to set the volume level.
Play/Pause Use this to play or pause the movie. The Spacebar does the same thing.
Slider Drag this to move to any point in the movie.
Step backward/Step forward Move back or ahead in the movie by one frame.
QuickTime controls Pops up a menu of additional commands.

If you have upgraded to QuickTime Pro and click the QuickTime controls button, you will see a pop-up menu with some or all of the following commands on it:

  • About QuickTime Plug-in Shows you the version of the QuickTime plug-in you are using.

  • Open This Link Opens a link.

  • Save As Source What this does depends on the item you are viewing. For .mov files, this does the same thing as Save As QuickTime Movie.

  • Save As QuickTime Movie This command enables you to save a movie you are viewing to your hard drive so that you can view it later. When you save it to your hard drive, it becomes just like any other QuickTime movie on your Mac (you view or edit it using QuickTime Player). This feature is disabled for some movies.

  • Plug-in Settings Enables you to configure your plug-in by opening the QuickTime pane of the System Preferences utility.

  • Connection Speed Enables you to set your connection speed (you should have already set this using the QuickTime pane in the System Preferences utility).

  • QuickTime Language If the movie has tracks for different languages, you can choose the language in which you want to hear the movie.


If you aren't using QuickTime Pro, you will see only a subset of these commands. For example, you won't be able to save a QuickTime movie to your local disk. And, depending on the content you are viewing, some of the commands might be disabled.

Exploring a QuickTime VR Movie

QuickTime Virtual Reality (VR) enables you to interact with movies that simulate panoramic, virtual worlds. You can move around within a movie, and you can even closely examine objects within that movie. QuickTime VR is widely used on the Web so that you can examine products, museums, and other interesting things.

If you have never used it before, you may not have any QuickTime VR files on your Mac. If you don't, go to and look in the News & Entertainment area. There will no doubt be some VR movies for you to view.

Find the movie you want to explore and click it. You won't see the usual QuickTime controls. Instead, you will see special cursors that indicate what you can do with the movie. The standard cursor is a small circle with a dot in the center. When you see this, you know that you are looking at a QuickTime VR movie.

To move around the image, simply hold down the mouse button and drag (the cursor will show an arrow to indicate which way you are moving). The image will move accordingly, and you can explore to your heart's content.



You have probably noticed by now, but just in case, contains many resources for QuickTime. You will find anything you need in order to understand and use QuickTime at this site.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Lifestyle