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MKV File Extension Details and Tips

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Many people who download a file with the extension MKV will often try to play it back with video player software they have installed on their systems. Most of the time this doesn't work. While a great selection of players support the playback of Matroska files, often the proper decoders for the streams contained in the files are missing. It is important to understand exactly what Matroska files are. Here we introduce the MKV File Extension Details and Tips.

What is MKV

A .mkv file is a Matroska video/audio multimedia file. Matroska is not a video codec as it is often thought to be, but a container like MOV and AVI, or an envelope that can hold many different codecs at the same time. As the name implies (the Russian egg-shaped dolls contained within one another) Matroska can contain video (DivX, Xvid, RV9, etc), sound (MP3, MP2, Ogg, AC3, AAC, DTS, PCM), as well as subtitles (SRT, ASS, SSA, USF, etc) in the same file.

The aim of developing Matroska was to provide a flexible and cross-platform alternative to AVI, ASF, MP4, MPG, MOV, and RM. Its main features include fast seeking, high error recovery, modularly extendable, selectable subtitle and audio streams, chapter entries, menus, and streamable over the internet. An example of a Matroska file is a complete video file that includes a video stream and an audio stream, as well as subtitles and a menu system.

How to Play a MKV file

As we described Matroska is a container format file that stores multiple streams (video, audio and subtitles). These streams may require you to install decoding software and filters to playback depending on what player you use.

The Easiest Method: VLC

For most MKV files you find, there is a player not based on DirectShow (so you probably won't have to install any extra decoding software or filters) that has support for Matroska files- VLC. With the VLC player you are actually getting two things; a fine player with support for Matroska, and support for most video and audio streams you will find in an MKV file. This means that you most likely will not have to install any extra codecs or filters, depending on what your streams are.

Important Note: While VLC will work for most MKV files you will find, the package does not include any proprietary codecs. RealVideo and ON2 VP6 are examples of codecs not packed with VLC for this reason. Therefore with VLC, if you get a Matroska file that contains RealVideo, you are pretty much in the dark and will have to look for another playback option.

Another choice- Windows Media Player

Plus, several media players based on DirectShow like Windows Media Player will play back MKV files perfectly, but the key precondition is that you have the proper codecs and filters installed.

Why Convert MKV files

As you see, although there are some media players can support MKV videos, a lot of limits and potential troubles exist still. The basic reason is the complex codecs contained in a MKV file. So you have an MKV file and you just can't get it to play whatever you do? A good solution is to convert MKV to more common video formats. Brorsoft MKV Video Converter is a powerful and easy-to-use tool to convert MKV to various popular video formats with ease keeping the best quality.

As the best MKV file converter, what features should it have? Brorsoft's MKV file converter provides all you need and thus is the ultimate solution for you to convert Matroska media. You can use it to convert MKV to MP4, MOV, AVI, FLV, WMV, M4V, MPEG, DivX and hundreds of other formats. And with this MKV video converter, you can even freely convert MKV videos to fit your portable devices like iPhone, iPad, Nook HD, Galaxy Tab, HTC One, etc. If you are on Mac OS X, please get MKV Video Converter for Mac.

Learn the full guide How to Convert MKV to MP4, MOV, AVI, FLV, WMV, M4V

Related Guides:
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How to import MKV files to iMovie 11
How to open MKV files in Premiere Pro

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