Sunday, May 23, 2010

QuickTime Preference PAIN

I've held off writing this article in hopes that Apple would finish QuickTime Player X, the version included with Snow Leopard. But that has not happened, thus my rant.

Let's start by stating the situation:

1) You install Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and find in your Applications folder 'QuickTime Player' version 10.0 build 113. It's 64 bit. It has some nifty new features and is also missing A LOT of previous features. You can't upgrade it to a 'Pro' version. It has no Preferences available. There is no System Preferences Pane for it. It is essentially this kind of fun thing to play with that is incomplete and includes some bugs. The very worst bug forces QTX to dreadfully slowly cache an entire movie before you can scrape around through it. For this reason, I have set up all my QT movie files to play in the Open Source freeware application Movist instead, a vastly superior media player that incorporates FFmpeg.

The features missing from QuickTime X are numerous. It's not ready for prime time and is by no means a replacement for QuickTime 7.

2) Unknown to you, and without ANY prompting from Apple, your Snow Leopard DVD includes a copy of QuickTime 7 for you to install. If you want all the Pro features, and even some of the normal old features of QuickTime you must install QT7. In fact, I tell everyone to install QT7, I am so disappointed with QTX. Once you do, you've got absolutely everything you expect from QuickTime. It works perfectly. The only meagre drawback is that it is a 32 bit application, which means an unnoticeable slowdown compared to QuickTime X.

3) But sadly, Apple didn't bother to include the QuickTime Preference Pane for QuickTime 7 in their installer either. This is a very stupid and annoying oversight. If Apple had finished QuickTime X within a reasonable time, I would not have complained. As a result, you can't access all the preferences of either QuickTime X or QuickTime 7. Shame on Apple!

There is no complete solution to this PAIN in the Preferences at this time. Again, Shame on Apple!

Thankfully, there have been efforts to help overcome the incomplete nature of QuickTime X.

MacOSHints posted a helpful article entitled "Changing QuickTime X hidden preference settings". It discusses two CLI (character line interface) applications included in 10.6 that access QuickTime X preference settings. You can read the manual pages about each of them inside the Terminal application by typing:

man qtdefaults


man mediastreamsegmenter

The article also points out a set of AppleScripts, called QuickTime Player X Hidden Preferences Scripts, you can install that are accessible whenever you are using QuickTime Player X. You can read about them and download them from celebi23 HERE. The scripts are donationware. Note that these scripts do not cover all the available QTX settings. Refer back to the CLI application above for the full set.

Here is a list of the scripts included with QuickTime Player X Hidden Preferences Scripts Version 2.2.1:
  • Allow simultaneous recordings
  • Always show titlebar, controller
  • Automatically show subtitles and closed captioning on open
  • Autoplay movies on open
  • Disable rounded corners
  • Keep playing full-screen even when you command-tab out of QuickTime
  • Never show the titlebar
  • Never show titlebar, controller
  • Recent items
  • Shorten the delay after which the controller fades out to one second
Another, more simply and familiar solution is the third party 'QuickTime Player X Preference Pane' from MegaByteComp. The program is freeware. You can read about it and download it HERE. I've been using it for several months and like it. MegaByteComp also provide it combined with their 'iTunes Preference Pane' as their 'SnowLeopardCombo Preference Pane'.Here is a list of settings included with QuickTime Player X Preference Pane version 1.2:
  • Rounded Corners
  • Allow Simultaneous Recordings
  • Autoplay Movies
  • Show Closed Captioning & Subtitles
  • Exit Fullscreen Mode on Application Switch
  • Show Inspector At Launch
  • Titlebar & Controller Fade Out
  • Number of Recent Documents
So what other hidden QuickTime X preference settings remain? Here is my personal shortlist:

Accessible from the qtdefaults CLI application:
  • Legacy Codecs Enabled - enable or disable legacy codecs in the export settings.
  • Transport Settings - either allow QT to automatically determine the best media streaming port and protocol or set it yourself.
  • MIME Settings - read or reset the MIME types being handled by the QuickTime plug-in.
  • Media Keys - read , add or delete media keys used to play back encrypted movies.
  • Download cache - empty the cache being used by QuickTime.
Accessible from the mediastreamsegmenter CLI application:
  • Segment media for deployment using HTTP Live Streaming using MPEG-2.
  • Produce live or video-on-demand streams, including the addition of encryption.
BTW: Apple recently allowed the release of a downloadable version of QuickTime Player v7.6.6 for Snow Leopard 10.6.3. Previously you could only get it if you'd already installed the version on the Snow Leopard DVD then ran System Update. You can download it HERE. It is highly recommended until such time when Apple finish QuickTime Player X. Don't hold your breath.