Safari for Mac to Support WebM Video Playback 11 Years After Its Launch

Safari features support for WebM video playback in the second beta of macOS Big Sur 11.3 Beta, indicating that Apple's browser will finally support the format after failing to do so for almost 11 years.


The added functionality, first spotted by The 8-Bit, allows users to play WebM videos in Safari for the first time.

WebM is a video format designed to be a royalty-free alternative to the H.264 codec used in the MP4 format. WebM allows video files to remain small without sacrificing quality excessively, and can be played with little processing power, making it ideal for webpages and browsers.

WebM was launched by Google in 2010, but has never been supported in Safari. This meant that Safari users have been forced to download WebM content and play it in a compatible media player, or simply use another browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Today, WebM is among the more niche video formats, primarily being used on sites such as imageboards and forums. It is also often chosen for its support for transparent video playback.

In 2010, Steve Jobs implied that WebM was "a mess" and "not ready for primetime." It is unclear why Apple has finally deemed WebM a format worth supporting 11 years after its launch, but it may be partially due to the fact that Apple officially backs the H.264 codec.

WebM also has a sister project called WebP for images. Last year, Apple added support for WebP in Safari 14, so the company's approach to more niche media formats appears to be softening. WebM support still appears to be unavailable on iOS, but in light of these developments it would be unsurprising if Apple's WebKit engine added support for it too in due course.

Related Forum: macOS Big Sur

Popular Stories


iPhone SE 4 With Face ID Said to Be Priced Below $500

Monday May 20, 2024 3:43 am PDT by
Apple is targeting a sub-$500 starting price for its upcoming fourth-generation iPhone SE model despite a raft of rumored upgrades coming to the more affordable device. According to leaker Revegnus on X, the U.S. launch price of the fourth-generation iPhone SE will either remain at the same $429 starting price as the current model, or will see an increase of around 10%. Either way, Apple's...
iOS 17

Apple Releases iOS 17.5.1 With Fix for Reappearing Photos Bug

Monday May 20, 2024 10:11 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 17.5.1 and iPadOS 17.5.1, minor updates to the iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 operating system updates that came out last September. The 17.5.1 updates come a week after the launch of iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5. iOS 17.5.1 and iPadOS 17.5.1 can be downloaded on eligible iPhones and iPads over-the-air by going to Settings > General > Software Update. According to Apple's...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Tuesday May 21, 2024 7:29 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...
microsoft surface pro qualcomm

Microsoft Says New Surface Pro is Faster Than 15" M3 MacBook Air

Monday May 20, 2024 3:19 pm PDT by
Microsoft is going all in on AI, today introducing a series of Copilot+ PCs that have AI-focused hardware. The new Surface Pro is one of the first Copilot+ PCs, equipped with Qualcomm's Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite processor. Microsoft is already pitting the Surface Pro against Apple's M3 MacBook Air, and in marketing materials, claims that the Surface Pro has superior processing power and...
iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Perspective

iPhone 16 Lineup Rumored to Come in These Two New Colors

Sunday May 19, 2024 11:08 am PDT by
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo today outlined his expectations for the iPhone 16 lineup's color options, revealing that two new colors should replace two of the existing shades. Kuo outlined his expectations in a post on X (formerly Twitter) earlier today. He believes that the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will be available in black, white or silver, gray or "Natural Titanium," and rose....

Top Rated Comments

biffuz Avatar
43 months ago

Like we need another format?
Yes, we need open formats.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bokito Avatar
43 months ago
The webm version 11 years ago was based on VP8 or maybe even an earlier codec. Today's base codec is VP9. That's a big difference. I think Apple is just forced by Google's dominance with YouTube and users wanting 4K video. People don't accept running 1080p on their 5K iMac anymore.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mdnz Avatar
43 months ago
4chan users are rubbing their hands together now
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArtOfWarfare Avatar
43 months ago

Like we need another format?
The format already existed and is used. Just Safari was a crippled browser that couldn't view it. Now that's been fixed.

I'm curious what objections Jobs had 11 years ago. Does someone more in-the-know about the format know of improvements that have been made since then?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dukebound85 Avatar
43 months ago
about time
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ArPe Avatar
43 months ago

4chan users are rubbing their hands together now
They don’t have Macs. They spent all their money on cheese pizza webm format videos, over priced GPUs and lost their money on pump n dumps. Elon and his Bois took the money and ran laughing...and they will do it again and again
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)