About MKV file formatMKV stands for "Matroska Video". Matroska is a container file format, capable of holding unlimited number of video, audio and subtitile tracks, along with any metadata. Practically this means that it is possible to put entire movie with multiple sound and subtitle tracks, chapters information and movie thumbnail into single file. Being open and patent-free Matroska gained broad support recently and quickly becomes de-facto standard for storing movies. More information can be found at Wikipedia article.
Why MKVMatroska file format (and Matroska video in particular) has a number of advantages.
- MKV is open and free. No one holds patents or licenses and anyone can implement it freely. As a result nearly every software player and many hardware devices support it. The best software players out there ( VLC, MPlayer ) have full MKV support and are absolutely free.
- MKV files do not have evil features attached.
- You can play them on any capable hardware. No need for HDCP-certified video card or any "trusted" environment.
- You can copy them to your laptop and watch anytime, even if your laptop lacks DVD or Blu-ray drive, or any drive whatsoever.
- One file is one title. If you don't want to watch dozen trailers before the movie, you don't have to. And fast forward button always works, too.
- There are no restrictions where to play the file. There are no region-based restrictions. You have control over the content you've paid for.
- MKV files are easy to change. Want to remove unneeded audio track from the file? Thought about converting MPEG-2 video into H264 to make the file 5 times smaller? All of it can be easily done with free software.
- MKV files are compact. For exactly the same content MKV files are about 10% smaller than DVD files and roughly 40% smaller than Blu-ray files.
While MKV is a good storage format not always it can be played directly. Playing MKV files on a computer is not an issue - there are many players and codec packs that enable MKV playback on any platform, be it Windows, Mac or Linux. However many hardware players do not play MKV directly - for that MKV files need to be transcoded into format that particular hardware player understands. Since all meta information is preserved in MKV and compressed media data (video, audio, subtitles) is not changed in any way it is always possible to transcode MKV files into original format. For example, MKV files produced from a Blu-ray disc may be transcoded back to a Bly-ray image or set of M2TS files without any losses by freeware transcoding tools.
Playing MKV files
Freeware players that support MKV natively:
- Videolan VLC is a free and very good player for Windows, Mac and Linux that supports MKV directly.
- MPlayer is another free player with MKV support.
- CCCP is a free codec pack for Windows that will enable MKV playback in Windows Media Player and all other DirectShow-based players.
- tsMuxeR is a free tool that can transcode MKV file produced from DVD or Blu-ray back into Blu-ray disc or M2TS file.