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How to Play Media with QuickTime

Playback with QuickTime begins as you might suspect — by clicking the Play button. While a file is playing, the Play button toggles to a Pause button. Click that button to pause playback, which toggles the button back to Play.

Clicking the buttons with double arrows on them advances the playback head at high speed in the direction of the arrows. (Click once to advance at 2x speed; click again to increase the speed.). If the file has audio in it, you hear the playback at high speed, which sounds like an episode of those helium-inhaling Chipmunks. Despite its comical sound, it’s helpful for quickly scanning through a file.

You can also advance through the file by dragging the playback head — an action called scrubbing — in either direction. Scrubbing is permissible while the file is playing or when it’s stopped. When you drag the playback head, however, you miss out on the high-speed sound and video that you would get if you used the buttons.

To adjust the volume of a movie, simply move the volume slider left or right. To mute the volume, click the speaker icon to the left of the volume slider.

You can control playback by using the keyboard as well.

Common Playback Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard Shortcut What It Does
Spacebar Starts or stops the player
Left/right arrow Advances the playback head (either one frame at a time or in slow motion)
Option+Up/down arrow Sets the volume to Maximum and Minimum, respectively
Up/down arrow Increases/decreases the volume of the current movie

Sometimes you might want to play a piece of media more than once. In these situations, you need to loop the playback. To force a movie to loop, choose View→Loop or press Command+L. Press Command+L again to turn off looping.

To see more information about the files that you’re playing, ask the expert: QuickTime Player. To view basic information about a movie, choose Window→Show Movie Inspector or press Command+I. The resulting window displays the following data:

  • Source: Location of the file

  • Format: Compressor and dimensions of the file

  • FPS: Preferred rate of playback in frames per second (fps), shown only for video

  • Data Size: Size of the file

  • Data Rate: Preferred rate of playback (in bits per second)

  • Current Time: Position of the playback head (in units of time)

  • Current Size: Actual movie dimensions

These bits and pieces of information are read-only — you can’t change them from the Movie Inspector window.

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