Files with a .mov extension are multimedia files saved in Apple’s container format, QuickTime File Format (QTFF). They can store video, audio, and text on different tracks and are most commonly found on Apple iPhone and iPad devices. Additionally, the .mov extension is often synonymous with .qt, .movie, and .moov file extensions, and can be opened on Windows 10 and Linux computers and Android phones. But what if you can’t find or play the aforementioned file? Don’t panic. We can assist you in both situations by teaching you how to recover .mov files.
1. Recovering .mov files via File History or Time Machine
This method is identical to method 1 in our guide to recover .bak files. And while it’s quick and easy, the whole thing hinges on the fact that you made a backup of your drive (Mac) or enabled File History for the folder where the .mov files were (Windows). Even worse, even if you successfully restore .mov files to the original location, oftentimes you can’t get them to play. To fix that, skip to methods 3, 4, or 5 right away.
2. Recover .mov files via data recovery software
Don’t worry if you haven’t taken precautions and created backups – most people don’t. Lucky for you, there’s another way to recover .mov files. The procedure is, again, identical to the one we mentioned in method 2 of the “.bak file recovery guide” above. Only this time, since these files can also be found on smart devices, you can also follow method 1 in our restore iPhone videos or follow the last method (How to recover videos without a backup on Android) in our phone video recovery guide.
3. Try a different program or install codecs (Optional)
As mentioned, even if you get the .mov files back, they might refuse to play. Sometimes they play to a point and hang or play from beginning to end, but the video, audio, or text is out of whack. In all cases, it’s most likely that the file itself is the culprit. But, to eliminate other issues, you should try opening the .mov file in multiple media players that support it. Start with the default one, QuickTime Player then transition to programs such as BS Player, Windows Movies & TV, VLC, or MPC-HC, etc. Also, check if you lack any codecs by installing codec packs such as K-Lite.
4. Recover .mov files by converting/transcoding
If you conclude that the .mov file is corrupt, you can try to restore it to working order via conversion or transcoding. If that works, you can then repeat the process the other way around to get a working .mov file. So, to convert or transcode a .mov file, do this:
1. Online conversion
If your file isn’t too large, you can use a website to complete multimedia conversion online. Since there’s a whole host of them, we recommend searching for “convert .mov to .mp4“ and picking a favorite. You can also replace .mp4 with .avi or .mkv if the file still refuses to play.
2. Use a dedicated program
There are plenty of programs that can do this, but we recommend HandBrake, a free, open-source video transcoder. Alternatively, if you usually play.mov files with VLC Player, you use its built-in conversion utility like this:
- Click on Media in the main menu, then select Convert / Save… from the drop-down list.
- Click on Add, then select a .mov file.
- Put a checkmark in front of Show more options, then click on Convert / Save.
- Under Settings, select the preferred codec and file extension. Enter a new file name and destination.
- Click on Start and wait for the conversion to finish. Attempt to play the file with the new extension.
5. Recovery of .mov files through video repair software or tools
You can get rid of playback problems or corruption of .mov files in two ways:
- Online tools. There are a plethora of websites that offer this service, although we can’t vouch for any. Three popular examples include fix.video, videorepair.com, and videos.repair.
- Dedicated software. Many companies create dedicated software for this purpose. Although we’re not affiliated with them, Stellar Video Repair and Wondershare Repairit Video Repair seem to be popular choices.