Finding and converting legacy media 3: Movies and more

So far, I have looked at two problems resulting from the loss of QuickTime 7 codecs in macOS 10.15: converting JPEG 2000 images, and movies embedded in KeyNote presentations. It’s time to tackle the elephant in the room, all those other movies and video clips which rely on codecs which won’t be available in the future.

The first thing that you need is Apple’s list of codecs which are likely (almost certain) to lose support. Although it’s long and open-ended, it doesn’t actually take long to work through in practice.

If all you have got is a handful of items in your Movies folder, you can quickly inspect the codecs which they use with Finder’s Get Info dialog.


You should see their codecs declared in the More Info section.

I’ve got movies and clips scattered all over my Home folder, so even locating those to check them isn’t straightforward. But Finder’s Find feature offers us something even better: it can search file metadata for the codecs used. To enable this, open a new Finder window, then select the Find command in the File menu. Select the Kind item in the search attributes popup at the left, and open the last item Other. In that list of search attributes, locate Codecs and tick the box to add it to the search attribute menu.


Switch the next popup along to read contains, then referring to Apple’s list of unsupported codecs, start typing one of their names, such as Sorenson. The list of files below will change dynamically as you type – a feature which you can use, in this case to cover multiple codecs.


This provides you with live listings of those movie files which you at least need to inspect, and probably convert too. The next step is conversion, here using QuickTime Player. I’ll look at alternative transcoding in another article.

Unfortunately, unlike some Apple media tools, even in macOS 10.14.4 QuickTime Player doesn’t warn you when a movie has been encoded using a deprecated 32-bit codec, but just converts it on opening.


Once converted, use the Inspector (Window/Show Movie Inspector command) to verify that the movie’s new codecs are 64-bit safe, then save that transcoded movie using the Save… command. Ensure that you keep an archived copy of the original movie, and you can now replace your working copy with the converted one.


One minor snag with using QuickTime Player to perform these conversions is that it doesn’t appear to write details of the new codecs used to the converted movie’s metadata, so checking them using the Finder’s Get Info dialog doesn’t work. Maybe Spotlight indexing will eventually put that right.