If you want to know how to watch video in HDR on a Mac, here we show you how to play HDR or Dolby Vision content on a Mac including the latest M1 and M2 Macs and MacBooks.
Nowadays, streaming services such as Netflix support High Dynamic Range (HDR) streaming in two main formats: Dolby Vision and HDR10.
HDR10 and Dolby Vision are enhancements to color and dynamic range that make video look more realistic with ultravivid colors and sharper contrast.
The result is brighter whites and darker blacks with much greater range in between.
The main reason most Mac users want to know how to use HDR on a Mac is for watching streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube but it also means that you can watch video recorded on iPhones in HDR in its full glory.
Surprisingly the Apple Studio Display does not support HDR as it only goes up to a maximum of 600 nits (up to 1600 nits is needed for HDR) although the more expensive Apple Pro XDR display supports HDR, Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG).
If the HDR video looks washed-out on your Mac when using an external display, then it’s likely to be an compatibility issue between your Mac and the display or an issue with the software you are using.
This is sometimes a problem with graphic design software which perform differently depending on the Mac and external display being used.
There is no one fix solution to this as it seems to be mainly affecting Apple Silicon M1 and M2 Macs with some monitors and not with others.
Some users have find that activating Sidecar on macOS has fixed the washed out colors in HDR mode while others have found that updating to the latest version of macOS has helped.
How To Stream in Ultra HD on a Mac
If your Mac or external display doesn’t support HDR, you may still be able to still stream in Ultra HD (also known as 4K) on your Mac.
To stream in Ultra HD (UHD) on a Mac you’ll need an integrated UHD display. The following Macs all support UHD on their internal display:
Mac Studio from 2022
iMac Pro from 2017
iMac from 2017 or later
Mac Pro from 2019
Mac Mini from 2018 or later
MacBook Pro from 2016 or later
MacBook Air from 2018 or later
MacBook introduced in 2015 or later
Apart from having one of these Macs, you also need to ensure the following:
You need to be running macOS Big Sur 11.0 or later
You need to be using the latest version of the Safari browser which you can update via Software Update on your Macs
You can also stream in Ultra HD on an external monitor connected to a Mac as long as it has the following:
A minimum 60Hz refresh rate (most external displays have this)
UHD or 4K support
Connected with a Thunderbolt 3/4 or HDCP 2.2 rated video cable
Like with HDR, to watch content in UHD on a Mac you’ll also need to make sure that:
You have a Netflix subscription that supports streaming in UHD