List of file formats working on Apple TV

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<Google>WIKI</Google>

This is just a list of various file formats tested playing natively on the Apple TV (i.e. through Frontrow). The codec sources are noted, if needed. Drop the .component bundle in /Library/QuickTime on the Apple TV.

Note: this page says codecs go into the '/Library/Quicktime' directory, while the Codec Sources page says they go into the '/System/Library/Quicktime' directory

See also: Codec Sources

If you can add to these tables, please do!

Video Codecs

Name Extension Works? Codec Notes
DivX .avi, .divx Yes Perian Free
720p DivX .avi ?? Perian For one user, video stutters every 10-15 seconds, audio never skips. Can I get confirmation either way on this? please link to a file as mine plays everything except 1080p
Flash Video .flv Yes Perian Free, video file must load completely before playback
H.264 .mp4, .m4v Yes Included, Quicktime 7 -- NOT QUICKTIME X Supports Main Profile with some exceptions: "QuickTime WILL NOT support 8x8 dct and intra prediction, b-pyramids, lossless encoding, etc. As well as anything from the High Profile."
H.264 .mp4, .m4v Yes Perian Supports High Profile. Note: Apple's H.264 decoder (QuickTimeH264.component) must be removed from /System/Library/QuickTime before Perian can take over for H.264. Not as fast with decode speed as Apple's, but supports more features.
MPEG-2 .mpg, .mp2, .vob, .m2v Yes QuickTime MPEG-2 Playback $19.99, does not play transport streams, reports of choppy video
Windows Media .wmv Yes Flip4Mac Free, Unable to play 720p content encoded using VC1 HD profile
XviD .avi Yes Perian Free

Audio Codecs

Name Extension Works? Codec Notes
AAC .m4a Yes Included Should play right out of the box
MPEG Layer-3 .mp3 Yes Included Should play right out of the box
Dolby AC3 .ac3 Yes A52codec Free, read the readme for install instructions
DTS .wav Yes Included Should play right out of the box
FLAC .flac Yes XiphQT Make sure to Install XiphQT into /Library/Components

Containers

Name Extension Works? Codec Notes
Matroska .mkv, .mka Yes Perian Reportedly not very usable
Ogg Vorbis, Theora .ogg, .ogm Yes XiphQT Reportedly working


UPDATE VLC can play Matroska files on the AppleTV, *but* it is evident that the hardware cannot handle high bitrate files. It plays 480p decently (some skips), but 720p is unwatchable and 1080p will never get past the first frame. The VLC console will simply spit out a bunch of warnings:

[00000347] ffmpeg decoder error: more than 5 seconds of late video -> dropping frame (computer too slow ?)

Video Conversion Software

Software that is known to work with converting divx, avi, and other formats to m4v or mp4 which can be used natively out of the box.

Program Vendor Supported Source Formats Cost Platform Link Notes
Handbrake DVD Video Free (GPL) Mac OS X, Windows, Linux HandBrake For best results, follow a guide like this
QTAmateur Mike Ash Anything QT can open Free ( closed source ) OS X QTAmateur Simple to use ( with batch mode ). Does everything that QTPro does
MPEG Streamclip SQUARED 5 MPEG, VOB, PS, M2P, MOD, VRO, DAT, MOV, DV, AVI, MP4, TS, M2T, MMV, REC, VID, AVR, M2V, M1V, MPV, AIFF, M1A, MP2, MPA, AC3 Free ( closed source ) OS X or Windows Squared 5 Simple easy to use
Elgato Turbo.264 Elgato Anything QT can open $99.95 OS X Turbo.264 Easy and really fast. Review

Tutorials for several Encoding-GUIs and recommended encoder settings which work with Apple TV: Load DVD on AppleTV