Codecs: Frequently asked questions
If something isn’t working with Windows Media Player, you might not have the right codec on your PC. The easiest way to solve the problem is to go online and search for the codec you need.
Here are answers to some common questions about codecs.
A codec compresses or decompresses media files like songs or videos. Windows Media Player and other apps use codecs to play and create media files.
A codec can consist of two parts: an encoder that compresses the media file (encoding), and a decoder that decompresses the file (decoding). Some codecs include both parts, and other codecs only include one of them.
You can get a DVD encoder by upgrading to the
Windows Media Center Pack
, or you can install third party DVD playback software.
There are lots of audio and video codecs in use today. Windows and the Player include some of the most popular codecs like Windows Media Audio, Windows Media Video, and MP3. If you want to play content that was compressed with a codec that isn't included in Windows or the Player, you can likely download the codec you need from the Internet.
Here are some of the most common codecs that aren't included with Windows Media Player:
Codecs required for Blu‑ray Discs. Blu‑ray is a patented technology, so the codecs required for playing Blu‑ray Discs can’t be included in Windows. You can search online to find an app to play Blu‑ray Discs.
Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC). Windows Media Player can’t play Free Lossless Audio Codec files, but you can search online for apps to convert these files into a type that can be played with Windows Media Player.
Codecs required for Flash Video (FLV) files. Windows Media Player doesn’t come with codecs to play Flash Video files.
In some 3GP files the audio doesn’t work, and you need to install new codecs.
Here's how to see all the codecs on your PC:
If you know the name of the codec or its ID (known as a FourCC identifier for video codecs or a WaveFormat identifier for audio codecs), try searching for it on the Internet. You can also try going to the codec manufacturer's website to download the most recent version.
Install only codecs, filters or plug-ins from trusted, authorized sources such as the official website of the codec manufacturer. Be careful when you install codecs that you find on the Internet, particularly the free codec packs that claim to include codecs from many companies, because these codec packs might damage your PC. If you've installed any codec packs and are having problems with the Player, we recommend that you remove them.
It's important to have the right codec for your system, because codecs can be written for 32-bit or 64-bit operating systems. If you're running a 64-bit version of Windows, you need to install 64-bit codecs.
Many older codecs are only available in 32-bit versions. If the codec doesn't specify whether it's a 32-bit or 64-bit, it's probably a 32-bit codec.
Here's how you can find out whether you’re running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows.
Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
(If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.)
Enter computer in the search box.
Swipe across or right-click Computer, and then tap or click Properties.
If "64-bit Operating System" is listed next to System type, you’re running the 64-bit version of Windows.
If "32-bit Operating System" is listed next to System type, you’re running the 32-bit version of Windows.