How to Open M4V Files

by Shea Laverty

The M4V file format is a video container format, developed by Apple for use with its iTunes software. Problems playing an M4V video relate mostly to whether the format features digital rights management. DRM-protected files can only be played on authorized computers, while unprotected files can play on any computer so long as they have a compatible player.

Understanding M4V

The primary difference between the M4V and MP4 is that M4V files can be encoded with Apple FairPlay DRM. This form of copyright protection prevents the file from being played on any unauthorized device, rendering it essentially useless on unauthorized computers. The M4V format is often used to deliver high-definition video, but can also be used for standard-definition video as well.

Playing Protected M4V

To authorize your computer, launch iTunes and select **Store** from the menu bar, followed by **Authorize This Computer**. Enter your Apple ID when prompted and click **Authorize**. For Windows users who don't see the menu bar in iTunes, press **Ctrl-B** to display the bar. Authorizing iTunes on your computer won't render the file viewable if it isn't linked to your iTunes account.

Converting to MP4

While unprotected M4V files can be played on any compatible player, not every media player directly supports the M4V extension. However, you can change the file extension of nearly any unprotected M4V file to MP4 and play the file on MP4-compatible players instead. To change the extensions, access the Control Panel by pressing **Windows-X** and selecting **Control Panel** from the menu for Windows 8 or clicking **Start**, followed by **Control Panel** in Windows 7. Select **Appearance and Personalization**, followed by **Folder Options** and clear the **Hide extensions for known file types** checkbox, then click **OK**. Finally, right-click the M4V file, select **Rename** and change the extension from **.M4V** to **.MP4**.

Using Media Players

Many desktop media players can handle M4V in its original form, as well as after being renamed to an MP4 file. Apple's [iTunes](https://www.apple.com/itunes/) and [QuickTime](https://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/), as well as Microsoft's [Windows Media Player 12](http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/windows-media-player-12) can all play M4V files. The VideoLAN Organization's [VLC Media Player](http://www.videolan.org/) also offers support for both M4V and MP4 files, as well as a wide range of other formats. The best way to ensure compatibility with these apps is to keep them up-to-date and to only use them on iTunes-authorized computers. In some cases, a specific codec file may also be needed to properly decode and display the information in the file.