Using HEVC Video in macOS High Sierra

A new video compression setting available in macOS High Sierra will help you save file space while not compromising on video quality. The High Efficiency Video Coding setting, also known as H.265, can save up to 50% in file size. However, since this is a new type of video compression, those files cannot be played in older versions of macOS or iOS.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using HEVC Video in macOS High Sierra.

So let's take at a new feature in Mac OS High Sierra. It's the ability to encode and playback video using something called HEVC which stands for high efficiency video coding. It's also known as H2-65. So you've probably heard the term H2-64 as a type of video compression that's been used, probably, for about a decade now. H2-65 is HEVC and here's how you use it in High Sierra.

I'm going to open up a video here. It's a 1080p high definition video in Quick Time Player. It works just as before. When I go to export it notice a couple of things. First of all I can export as 4K if the video is 4K. This is a 1080p video so it doesn't offer that option. You can play around with 4K video in Quick Time Player now.

If I go and export as 1080p I have the option down here to use HEVC. So I can export the old way using H2-64 or I can check this and export using H2-65. What's the benefit? Well, it's file size mostly. Basically you can compress things better using HEVC. That means for the same quality you're going to get a smaller file size.

So here I've exported a file twice. I've done it for two different files. The first time non HEVC. If I get information on it you can see this says 20.5 MB. With that check box on I get 17.4 MB. So a savings of about 15%. This video here 31.5 MB down to 26.5 MB. So smaller. These are pretty still videos so I'm wondering if the compression will be even better if there was a lot of action in these videos. They look pretty much identical to me. So you're going to get basically the same quality but in a smaller file package.

So is there is down side? Well, potentially a big one depending upon your setup. Here I am back in Mac OS Sierra. Not the new High Sierra. I've moved that file over. The one that I converted to HEVC. I double click on it and it's not going to open. Sierra, of course, doesn't know about HEVC. It's new so it's not going to work on the old operating systems. So you have a problem there is you've got Macs or even older versions of iOS that you need to play the video at. You're not going to be able to play it. It's a new format for 2017. It's not going to be playable on operating systems developed before 2017.

But moving in time the other way to the future you should be okay. Because HEVC is not something that Apple invented. It's not proprietary. It's an open standard. It's bound to be adopted pretty much moving into the future. Apple's use of it in High Sierra and iOS 11 insures that. So you can read more about it. All the little nitty gritty details by going to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a great resource for information like this. Look up high efficiency video coding, that page there, and you can read all about the details of how it's developed and what it actually does and its advantages.

Comments: 5 Responses to “Using HEVC Video in macOS High Sierra”

    Russ Tolman
    2 years ago

    Hi, just wondering what hardware you used; and especially how long it took to do the export., Love your site by the way, a daily visitor

    2 years ago

    Russ: I can’t remember. It will vary depending on the size, codec, quality, etc. I’m using a Mac Pro. Just try a few for yourself and see.

    Russ Winkler
    2 years ago

    Regarding the HEVC video you created in Sierra and moved to High Sierra. Will there be third-party apps to convert it to work in High Sierra, and/or will Apple have a convertor program? Thanks.

    2 years ago

    Russ: Not sure what you are asking. High Sierra plays older-codec video fine. It plays all sorts of video fine, just like Sierra did, plus it adds this new one. As for converting, you just use QuickTime Player for that like I am doing in the tutorial.

    Dave Schweitzer
    2 years ago

    Hi Gary.
    VLC Media Player has had the ability to play back HEVC video files for some time now. I’m using it to play files on an old iMac running Yosemite and it works swimmingly.
    So while QuickTime Player in Sierra and previous doesn’t have the ability, there is a free third-party solution.


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