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MKV Extension Icon
Filename extension
.mkv .mk3d .mka .mks
Internet media type
video/x-matroska audio/x-matroska
Initial release6 December 2002; 21 years ago (2002-12-06)
Latest release
8 October 2022; 21 months ago (2022-10-08)
Type of formatContainer format
Container forMultimedia
Extended fromMCF, EBML
Open format?Yes
Free format?Yes[2]

Matroska is a project to create a container format that can hold an unlimited number of video, audio, picture, or subtitle tracks in one file.[3] The Matroska Multimedia Container is similar in concept to other containers like AVI, MP4, or Advanced Systems Format (ASF), but is an open standard.

Matroska file extensions are .mkv for video (which may include subtitles or audio), .mk3d for stereoscopic video, .mka for audio-only files (which may include subtitles), and .mks for subtitles only.[4]


The project was announced on 6 December 2002[5] as a fork of the Multimedia Container Format (MCF), after disagreements between MCF lead developer Lasse Kärkkäinen and soon-to-be Matroska founder Steve Lhomme about the use of the Extensible Binary Meta Language (EBML) instead of a binary format.[6] This coincided with a 6-month coding break by the MCF's lead developer for his military service, during which most of the community quickly migrated to the new project.[citation needed]

In 2010, it was announced that the WebM audio/video format would be based on a profile of the Matroska container format together with VP8 video and Vorbis audio.[7]

On 31 October 2014, Microsoft confirmed that Windows 10 would support HEVC and Matroska out of the box, according to a statement from Gabriel Aul, the leader of Microsoft Operating Systems Group's Data and Fundamentals Team.[8][9] Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9860 added platform level support for HEVC and Matroska.[10][11]


"Matroska" is derived from matryoshka (Russian: матрёшка [mɐˈtrʲɵʂkə]), the Russian word for the hollow wooden dolls which open to expose another smaller doll, that in turn opens to expose another doll, and so on. The logo writes it as "Matroška"; the letter š, an "s" with a caron over it, represents the "sh" sound (/ʂ/) in various languages.[12]


The use of EBML allows extension for future format changes. The Matroska team has expressed some of their long-term goals on Doom9.org and Hydrogenaudio forums. Thus, the following are "goals", not necessarily existing features, of Matroska:[13]

  • Creating a modern, flexible, extensible, cross-platform multimedia container format
  • Developing robust streaming support (both this format and the WebM subset are streamable)[14]
  • Developing a menu system similar to that of DVDs based on EBML (as of July 2019, there is only a mostly empty draft)[15]
  • Developing a set of tools for the creation and editing of Matroska files (MKVToolNix, for example)
  • Developing libraries to allow developers to add Matroska support to their applications (made open source by Matroska developers)
  • Working with hardware manufacturers to include Matroska support in embedded multimedia devices


Matroska is supported by a non-profit organization (association loi 1901) in France,[16] and the specifications are open to everyone. It is a royalty-free open standard that is free to use, and its technical specifications are available for private and commercial use. The Matroska development team licenses its libraries under the LGPL, with parsing and playback libraries available under BSD licenses.[13]


Software supporting Matroska include all ffmpeg/libav-based ones,[17] including, notably, mplayer, mpv, VLC, Foobar2000, Media Player Classic-HC, BS.player, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Blender, Kdenlive, Handbrake, MKVToolNix as well as YouTube (which uses WebM extensively).[18]

Outside of ffmpeg, Windows 10 supports Matroska natively as well.[19] Earlier versions relied on codec packs (like K-Lite Codec Pack or Combined Community Codec Pack) to integrate ffmpeg (via ffdshow) and other additions into Windows’ native DirectShow.

Apple macOS’s discontinued native QuickTime notably lacked support.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Release release-1.7.1 · Matroska-Org/Libmatroska". github.com. October 8, 2022. Archived from the original on February 28, 2023. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
  2. ^ Matroska Multimedia Container (Partial draft). Sustainability of Digital Formats. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  3. ^ Matroska v4 element specification Archived 2018-02-04 at the Wayback Machine, Matroska.org. "TrackNumber: The track number as used in the Block Header (using more than 127 tracks is not encouraged, though the design allows an unlimited number)."
  4. ^ "Matroska FAQ - Q3: What file extensions does Matroska use?". www.matroska.org. Archived from the original on 2019-04-08. Retrieved 2018-07-16.
  5. ^ "Matroska: Older Archives". Archived from the original on 2017-08-03. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  6. ^ Lhomme, Steve (2002-12-06). "Re: Proposed Spec Changes". Newsgroupgmane.comp.video.mcf.devel. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  7. ^ Frequently Asked Questions Archived 2021-09-22 at the Wayback Machine, the WebM project
  8. ^ Gabriel Aul (October 31, 2014). "HEVC also supported in-box". Twitter. Archived from the original on December 29, 2020. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
  9. ^ John Callaham (November 1, 2014). "Microsoft: Windows 10 will support the HEVC video compression standard". Windows Central. Archived from the original on 2020-12-29. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  10. ^ Bogdan Popa (November 3, 2014). "Microsoft Confirms MKV File Support in Windows 10". Softpedia. Archived from the original on 2017-10-05. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  11. ^ Gabe Aul (November 12, 2014). "New build available to the Windows Insider Program". Microsoft. Archived from the original on March 3, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  12. ^ "Matroska Media Container Homepage". matroska.org. Archived from the original on 2023-04-11. Retrieved 2023-04-11.
  13. ^ a b "What is Matroska?". matroska.org. Archived from the original on 2020-12-29. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  14. ^ "Streaming". matroska.org. Archived from the original on 2020-12-29. Retrieved 2019-06-30.
  15. ^ "Menu Specifications". matroska.org. Archived from the original on 29 December 2020. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Legal Aspect - Matroska". matroska.org. Archived from the original on 2020-12-29. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  17. ^ "General Documentation". ffmpeg.org. Archived from the original on 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2022-11-21.
  18. ^ "Third-party applications - Matroska". Archived from the original on 2021-04-21. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  19. ^ "More on Native Flac and MKV Support in Windows 10". 5 January 2015. Archived from the original on 6 January 2024. Retrieved 31 October 2021.

External links[edit]