4K video is choppy on Mac, how to fix?

4k video playback is very choppy on Mac, is there a way to fix the issue? Read this post to learn a workaround to solve 4K video playing choppy problems on Mac.

4K footage choppy with iMac

“So I did some 4k recording yesterday with our DJI Phantom and the video playback is very choppy on my iMac with VLC player (I bought my iMac about 5 years ago). The 4K video is sometimes choppy sometimes smooth. I noticed that when camera is facing the horizon and the bird is flying towards the horizon the footage is smooth most of the times. When the movements are more complicated or fast this is where it starts getting choppy. How can I avoid missing a lot of frames when playing? Is there a work around for this? Is my iMac useless for 4k videos? Any ideas?”

Simply if the computer is not 4k compatible this is what happens, because the computer can’t access the files fast enough. In that case, we would recommend down-converting the 4K footage to 1080p for smooth playback on Mac. Check a quick guide on how to make 4K files play smoothly on Mac.

How to fix 4k video choppy issues on Mac?

As we’ve mentioned above, if your Mac is not 4K compatible, you will need to down-convert 4K files to 1080p for playing on Mac flawlessly.

Software requirement
HD Converter for Mac
solve 4K video playing choppy problems on Mac

Follow these steps:
Step 1: Install and run HD Converter for Mac as the best 4K to Mac converter. As soon as the main interface pops up, click ‘Add File’ button to load source video files.
solve 4K video playing choppy problems on Mac

Step 2: Select output format for Mac
From the Format Profile bar, navigate to ‘HD Video’ column, and select ‘HD MOV Video(*.mov)’ as output format for playing on Mac beautifully.
4K video is choppy on Mac

If you also need to edit 4K footage on Mac through iMovie, FCP X, or Avid, you can choose the following format as target.

In order to edit 4K files in iMovie, from the Format bar, choose ‘Apple InterMediateCodec (AIC) (*.mov) as output format from ‘iMovie and Final Cut Express’ catalogue.
4K to iMovie

For the purpose of importing and editing 4k video files in Avid, Premiere or DaVinci Resolve, from the Format bar, choose ‘Avid DNxHD(*.mov)’ as output format from ‘Avid Media Composer’ column.
4k to mac

To be able to use 4k footage in FCP 7/6, FCP X, Premiere or DaVinci Resolve, from the Format bar, choose ‘Apple ProRes 422 (*.mov)’ as output format from ‘Final Cut Pro’ catalogue.
4k to prores for mac editing
If you’ve loaded a number of video clips to do batch conversion, please do remember ticking off ‘Apply to All’ option before you start.

Step 3: Custom video and audio settings (for advanced users)
Click ‘Settings’ button, the ‘Profile Settings’ window pops up, on which you are allowed to custom video and audio parameters like bit rate, frame rate, resolution, sample rate, and audio channels. To export files in 1080p, do remember setting ‘Video Resolution’ to 1920*1080. It will ensure down-converting 4K files to 1080p for use on Mac smoothly.

Step 4: Start converting 4K videos to 1080p
When ready, click ‘Convert’ button to compress 4K files to 1080P for playing or editing on Mac smoothly.
Tips: if you don’t want to wait around in front of your computer for the converting process, you can tick off ‘Shut down computer when conversion completed’ and go away to do other things.

Step 5: Click ‘Open Folder’ button to get the generated 1080p files
When the conversion is finished, simply click ‘Open Folder’ button to get the exported 1080p files for playong or editing on Mac with optimum performance.

Also read
How can I downsize UHD 4K video to 1080p for playing?
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Convert 4K video to a more edit friendly codec on Mac/PC