Playing those Darned Torrented Videos on OS X

Most videos you can get via BitTorrent tend to be in Xvi-encoded AVI format. This doesn’t play by default in Quicktime on OS X. Sure, you can get other media players, but there’s something to be said for keeping things “native”. For one, it means less apps lying around, cluttering up your system. Thankfully, with a few free tools, it is possible to get Xvid, DivX and many other AVI formats playing in Quicktime/editable in iMovie/burnable in iDVD.

Hopefully this little howto will be of use to someone, particularly those new to OS X; it took me a little while to figure out how to get my video files to play, so if this save someone a little time then so much the better.

DivX on OS X.

If you’re on OS X 10.3 or erlier, you can use the latest official release of DivX (5.2.1 at the time of writing). Unfortunately, DivX 5 doesn’t work on OS X Tiger; instead, you must use DivX Fusion, the latest pre-release of the Mac codec. Simply installing DivX should render most DivX/Xvid files playable in Quicktime. Unfortunately, some AVI files can still refuse to work, even with the right codec. For these stubborn files, we need to call in the Doctor…

DivX Doctor and 3ivx

DivX Doctor can – in my experience – fix 99% of AVI files to play in Quicktime. It works by modifying the DivX/Xvid encoding to 3ivx and repackaging the AVI as a Quicktime Mov. So far I’ve yet to see any difference in quality resulting from this process. To get your video working, you’ll also need the 3ivx codec. Fixing an AVI is simply a case of opening it in DivX Doctor and hitting the “start” button. After it is done, you will be left with an AVI file and a MOV file. Personally I prefer MOVs so delete the AVI afterwards to save disk space. Using these tools, I’ve yet to come across an AVI that I’ve not been able to play in Quicktime.