An Introductory Guide to Understanding the MKV Format

June 7, 2023

Written by Ella Rebecca Horton

Ella Rebecca has been in love with the horror genre since an early age. The Bride of Frankenstein began her love of the classics and she's been writing and collecting since.

Videos play a significant role in today’s digital life. Whether you are planning to download,
stream or create social media videos, it is crucial to know the different formats. Although
multiple video formats like MP4, AVI, WMV, FLV, and MOV exist, this article focuses on the MKV video format.


Developed in Russia, the MKV or Matroska Multimedia Container format is free and open
source. The format supports nearly all codecs but isn’t itself supported by many programs. For example, video editors expect their videos to be viewed on a computer or TV using media players like Miro and VLC use this format.


This introductory guide explains the MKV format, its advantages, and how to open one.
What is The Matroska Video File (Mkv) Format?


MKV files are also known as Matroska Video. The format originated in 2002 when Lasse
Karkkaheinen, the lead developer, joined forces with the Matroska founder, Steve Lhomme, to create a comprehensive multimedia container for audio, videos, and text. This media container was improved in 2010 and became popular in online media content. Users mistake MKV files to be video or audio compression. In reality, these files are multimedia container formats incorporating video, audio, and subtitles into a single file, even if these elements use different encoding types. For instance, you can have an MKV file that contains H.264 video and something like AAC or MP3 for audio.


This multimedia container format was designed to be future-proof, and hence, they won’t
become outdated. To make this happen, Matroska developers included the following key

● Metadata, menu, and chapter support
● Fast seeking
● Online streaming compatibility
● Different selectable video and audio streams
● Error recovery, which allows for the playback of corrupted files
● Subtitle support


Also, the MKV container supports almost any video and audio format. This is what makes
this format is user-friendly and highly adaptive.


How Open Mkv Files?

It may seem that opening MKV files is an easy task. Double-clicking the video file must do the trick; in most cases, it does. The problem happens when there’s a collection of ten videos acquired from ten different places. Some of the files might not run properly because the codecs for the videos might already be present on your computer before the video is rendered. However, while MKV files are natively compatible with the Windows operating system, macOS doesn’t natively play MKV files. Hence, you might wonder how to open MKV  on Mac. You can use Elmedia, VLC Player, Movist Pro, and other similar media players to play MKV video files on Mac.


How to Convert Mkv Files?

A video file converter is the simplest way to convert MKV files to a different video format.
You can install an app or use the free video converters available online. But ensure to
browse the features of the converter of your choice. Pros and Cons Of Mkv Files.


MKV files are incredibly popular in today’s digital world, but there are some pros and cons
that you must know.


The pros of MKV files are:

● Multiple streams – MKV files contain multiple audio, video, and subtitle tracks in a
single file. This makes it convenient for users to prefer different subtitle or language
● Versatility – The format supports a wide variety of codecs. This is why the format is
compatible with different devices and media players.
● Open-source – The format is an open-source project, and the community drives its development. This ensures continuous updates and improvements.
● Chapter support – These files support chapter points, which allow users to navigate
through the video file quickly.
● Error recovery – Compared to other video formats, the MKV format resists corruption.
If there are any file errors, the format makes it easier to recover the playable content.
The cons of MKV files are:
● Limited compatibility – Although the MKV format is versatile, it is not supported
universally by all media players, devices, and operating systems. Hence, users may
require additional software or need to convert the format.
● Large file size – Since the audio and video quality of MKV files is high, it might result
in larger file sizes. The file size might even be larger than AVI, MP4, and other
● Metadata support is limited – Compared to other video formats, MKV doesn’t support
extensive metadata. This makes this format less desirable for specific applications.
● Doesn’t support DRM – MKV does not support digital rights management or DRM.
This limits the use of this format for distributing protected or copyrighted content.
● Decoding and encoding – MKV format is not supported by some video editing
software. Therefore, you may have to convert the file before editing. Also, hardware
acceleration for decoding and encoding MKV video files might not be as extensively
supported as other video formats.


The Bottom Line

These are some essential things to know about the MKV format. Keep these in mind when dealing with these files.

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