High Sierra Photos App won't play 4K Videos

scottct1

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 7, 2012
236
283
Connecticut USA
Hi there,

I have a Retina Macbook Pro running High Sierra, and I just shot a bunch of 4K video on my iPhone and plugged it into my Mac so I could download the videos in Photos and edit them with iMovie.

When I import them into Photos and try to play them I get a message "Cannot Play Video - Photos cannot play this video because it uses an unsupported format." if I click on more info it takes me to http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207022 which tells me to upgrade to High Sierra (which I am already running!)

I am however to import the 4K video and edit it in iMovie, so seems like something is wrong with the Photos app in playing HEVC encoded videos.

Anyone else having this issue?
 

Muramasa

macrumors newbie
Aug 26, 2011
28
56
Hi there,

I have a Retina Macbook Pro running High Sierra, and I just shot a bunch of 4K video on my iPhone and plugged it into my Mac so I could download the videos in Photos and edit them with iMovie.

When I import them into Photos and try to play them I get a message "Cannot Play Video - Photos cannot play this video because it uses an unsupported format." if I click on more info it takes me to http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207022 which tells me to upgrade to High Sierra (which I am already running!)

I am however to import the 4K video and edit it in iMovie, so seems like something is wrong with the Photos app in playing HEVC encoded videos.

Anyone else having this issue?
Is your Mac older than a mid 2015 model? As per the link you posted:
"Mac models from mid 2015 or earlier work with HEVC video that was captured at no greater than 1080p/240 fps."

So if your model is older than mid-2015, both the Photos app and Quicklook won't play those files since they are 4K and HEVC. Quicktime itself might play them though.

Going forward, on your iOS device, you can go to Settings > Photos > Transfer To Mac or PC > and check Automatic. This will make sure that when you import 4K videos to your Mac, it converts them to H264 so you can play them. 'Tis one option for ya.
 

EugW

macrumors 604
Jun 18, 2017
7,297
4,683
Is your Mac older than a mid 2015 model? As per the link you posted:
"Mac models from mid 2015 or earlier work with HEVC video that was captured at no greater than 1080p/240 fps."

So if your model is older than mid-2015, both the Photos app and Quicklook won't play those files since they are 4K and HEVC. Quicktime itself might play them though.
I just assumed that 4K HEVC would still work on older machines with High Sierra but would just play very poorly. I wouldn't know though since both my MacBook and iMac are 2017 models, and on my older machines I only tested a few HEIF files and 1080p HEVC files and they worked fine.

I'll have to load some 4K video on my old machines to see what happens, but I do point to this statement from the same link:

"iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Air 2 work with HEVC video that was captured at no greater than 1080p/240 fps."

According to that line, it won't support 4K HEVC on an iPad Air 2, but I was able to transfer over an 8-bit 4K file from my iPhone to my iPad Air 2 and it did play, albeit poorly. I believe it was still HEVC. I'll have to look into this some more.

Going forward, on your iOS device, you can go to Settings > Photos > Transfer To Mac or PC > and check Automatic. This will make sure that when you import 4K videos to your Mac, it converts them to H264 so you can play them. 'Tis one option for ya.
In that case it'd be better to just record in h.264. Conversion would take too long, and would degrade quality.
 

ValhallaOutcast

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2017
145
79
Iver learn this too, turning off High Effecency and setting format to most compatible works, never thought the early 2015 MBP would be too old but I guess they age fast
 

gradybp

macrumors newbie
May 8, 2018
1
0
I suddenly started getting these error messages in Photos (v 1.5) on my mid-2014 MacBook Pro (OS 10.11.6) when trying to open video taken with my iPhone 8+. I discovered that the videos were being synced from iCloud. When I used Airdrop to send the video from my iPhone to my MacBook (and then imported into Photos) the video played just fine. Not sure if this helps anyone else who is having this problem, but thought I'd mention it.