About MKV file format

MKV 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.


Matroska file format (and Matroska video in particular) has a number of advantages.

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[1].

Playing MKV files

Freeware players that support MKV natively:

Transcoding tools:

  1. Please note that commercial blu-ray discs are proteced by technologial measures preventing unauthorized duplication (including, but not limited to, "Cinavia" technology). MakeMKV doesn't remove such measures, so MKV file produced from a commercial blu-ray disc will not play on a blu-ray player, even when converted back to M2TS format.