By Dan Moren
April 13, 2018 7:43 AM PT
A tale of two QuickTimes
Among the casualties of the impending transition to 64-bit apps is one long-lasting oddity: QuickTime 7 Pro.
What makes this app so unusual are a few factors. For one thing, it’s one of Apple’s own apps. For another, it was first released in 2005, making it almost 13 years old, though it hasn’t seen an update in about 8 years.
But despite its age and the fact that the writing was on the wall for QuickTime 7, news that it wouldn’t see an update when macOS makes the jump to all-64-bit-all-the-time sparked some cries of frustration from users, including both myself and Jason, who have carved out a place in their workflows—and their hearts—for this little anachronism.
RIP good QuickTime Player 😉 pic.twitter.com/PY0LUilM3a— Jason Snell (@jsnell) April 13, 2018
The biggest reason that people are up in arms about the death of QuickTime 7 Pro is that its successor, QuickTime Player X, never quite filled its shoes when it came to features.
The Pro features of QuickTime 7 include making simple edits by cutting and pasting sections of tracks, the ability to export specific tracks from a multi-track file (such as podcasters get if they use a recording utility like Ecamm’s Call Recorder), creating and viewing chapter marks within a file, and more. Most of those fell by the wayside in the far more basic QuickTime X, which is focused much more on media playback than on any editing features. (And there are those, like our friend John Siracusa, who simply want a media player where the controls don’t appear on top of the video.)
It’s understandable that Apple didn’t invest a lot of time in bringing those pro features to QuickTime X. After all, the company has iMovie and Final Cut Pro for consumer and professional video-editing needs. But what it doesn’t have is a good utility for dealing with simple media tasks. Setting up a whole iMovie project to do some format conversions or make a quick trim or two is overkill; Apple at least acknowledged the latter by adding a basic Trim feature to QuickTime X, but the rest of QT7’s Pro features are still MIA.1
When QuickTime X was first released in 2009, many thought that it would eventually add those missing features, catching up to and surpassing its predecessor. But that never happened. QuickTime X does have some features that QT7 lacked, such as making recordings of a Mac’s screen, but it’s also remained largely unchanged in the last several years.
And Apple has tacitly acknowledged QTX’s lack of features by keeping QuickTime 7 available for download, and letting owners of Pro licenses continue to unlock those features even today.2
There are some underlying technical differences as well: Apple used different frameworks and APIs in QuickTime X than in QuickTime 7, and for some features and codecs QTX still relied on QT7 in the background. It’s unclear exactly what happens to those features when 32-bit support goes away: either Apple will need to significantly update its QuickTime frameworks in the next version of macOS, or the company will decide they’re simply not worth supporting.3
Those of us who rely on QuickTime 7’s features do have some alternatives. Ecamm, for example, provides its own set of tools for dealing with multi-track recording files. There are a few other media converting and simple editing applications out there.
But it still marks the end of an era. Those concerned about the future of the Mac will no doubt add another tick to their worry column, and while I personally don’t subscribe to that view, I do think it’s another indication of functionality useful to a few that gets squeezed out over time. All I know is I’ll miss this little app when its time comes. But until then, I’ll still be using the heck out of it.
You can skip back and forth between chapters in QuickTime X using menu commands, but there’s no visual indication that those chapters even exist. ↩
I’ve been using the same QuickTime Pro license for at least 15 years. ↩
Given that the next version of macOS is presumably well underway at this point, it’s possible an update is happening—but we won’t know until WWDC. ↩
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