Here are answers to some common questions about playing audio or video files in Windows Media Player. If you don't see your question listed here, go to the Windows Media Player FAQ online.

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What can I do about audio problems, such as popping, crackling, or sound that plays too fast or too slow?

If the problem affects all or most of the files you play (as opposed to just a few specific files), the driver software for your sound card (also known as a sound controller or audio device) might be out-of-date. You can check for updates by doing the following.

  1. Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Update.

  2. In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  3. If any updates are found, click Install updates. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

In some cases, you might need to download the driver software directly from the website of your computer manufacturer or sound card manufacturer.

What can I do about video problems, such as green or pink lines appearing in the video, flickering or choppy video, the Player stops responding when playing video, and so on?

If the problem affects all or most of the video files you play (as opposed to just a few specific files), the driver software for your video card (also known as a display adapter, video adapter, graphics adapter, or graphics board) might be out-of-date. Check for updates for the driver software for your video card and for updates to Microsoft‌ DirectX by doing the following.

  1. Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Update.

  2. In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  3. If any updates are found, click Install updates. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

In some cases, you might need to download the driver software directly from the website of your computer manufacturer or video card manufacturer.

If updating your driver software doesn't solve the problem, try reducing (or turning off) video hardware acceleration by doing the following.

  1. Open Display Settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, clicking Personalization, and then clicking Display Settings.

  2. Click Advanced Settings, click the Troubleshoot tab, and then click Change settings.

    Note that some video card drivers do not permit you to change settings.

  3. Move the Hardware acceleration slider toward None to reduce or turn off video hardware acceleration.

Why does the Player display a visualization instead of the video (or display an error message) when I play an .avi, .mpg, .mpeg, or other video file?

The video codec that is required to decode and display the video may not be installed on your computer.

For example, if you are trying to play a file that was encoded using the DivX video codec and you do not have that codec installed on your computer, you will likely hear the audio portion of the file, but you won't see the video.

Likewise, if you are trying to play a file that was encoded using the MPEG-2 video codec and you do not have a compatible MPEG-2 decoder (also called a DVD decoder) installed on your computer, you may see an error message or encounter other playback problems.

For information about finding and downloading codecs, see Codecs: frequently asked questions. For more information about installing an MPEG-2 decoder on your computer, go to the DVD Decoder Plug-ins webpage.

Why can't I play, burn, or sync protected files that I downloaded from an online store?

There are several common reasons why you might not be able to play, burn, or sync a protected file that you downloaded from an online store.

  • You copied the protected file from one computer to another and the online store has not issued you new media usage rights (also known as a license) for the second computer.

    In some cases, you might be able to resolve the problem by connecting to the Internet, signing in to your online store, and then attempting to play the file. In other cases, you might need to download the file again from the online store, go to the online store's website and add the second computer to your account, or contact the online store for further assistance.

  • The media usage rights that the online store issued to you might restrict the way in which you can use the file.

    For example, your online store account type might permit you to play files, but not to burn them to audio CDs. If this is the case, you might be able to burn the file to an audio CD if you purchase the file from the online store (as opposed to "renting" the file as part of a monthly subscription account).

  • The digital rights management (DRM) components on your computer are out-of-date or are corrupted.

    In some cases, you might be able resolve the problem by connecting to the Internet, attempting to play a protected file, and then accepting any prompts that appear to update your DRM components.

For more information about resolving problems with protected files, see Windows Media Player DRM: frequently asked questions.

How do I see the number of songs and the total amount of time it will take to play them within a selected list?

There are two ways to show the number of items and total playback time for a group of files.

  • To see the number of items and total playback time for all or some of the songs in your library, select the songs in your library that you want to use. (To select multiple adjacent items, press and hold the SHIFT key while selecting. To select nonadjacent items, press and hold the CTRL key while selecting. To select all items, press CTRL+A.).

    The total number of selected songs and their combined playback time will appear briefly to the right of the Volume slider Picture of the Volume slider.
  • To see the number of items and total playback time for a particular playlist, either create the playlist in the List pane by dragging songs from the library to the List pane or open an existing playlist by clicking Playlists in the Navigation pane, right-clicking the playlist you wish to use, and then clicking Edit in List Pane.

    When the playlist appears in the List pane, the number of items it contains and the total playback time will appear in the top portion of the List pane (in the area where album art typically appears). If a song is currently playing, you might need to click the Stop button before the playback time and number of items will be displayed.

I can't get crossfading to work. What can I do?

If crossfading doesn't seem to work, try the following:

  • Be sure you are playing Windows Media Audio (WMA) or MP3 files that are stored on your computer or on a data CD, rather than playing songs directly from an audio CD. Crossfading does not work with audio CDs.

  • Test crossfading with songs that were ripped at the same time. Crossfading might not work if the files have different sampling rates or bit depths, different numbers of audio channels, or if any of the files contain other kinds of streams in addition to audio (such as video, script, or HTML).

  • Check that you are playing files that were ripped with the same copy protection setting. For crossfading to work, the files you are playing must either all have copy protection turned on, or they must all have copy protection turned off.

  • Test songs that have reasonably high volume at the beginning and at the end of the song, because crossfading reduces the volume during those sections.

  • Move the overlap slider to the far right (for the maximum amount of overlap) for the best chance of hearing the overlap on a wide variety of songs.

When I click a link to an audio or video file on a webpage, the file doesn't play unless I right-click the link, click Save target as, and then save it to my desktop. How can I avoid this?

If you are prompted to save the target file, Windows Media Player might not be configured to automatically play that particular file type (for example, .mp3 or .m3u).

You might be able to resolve the problem by changing your default program settings. For more information, see the question in this topic about making Windows Media Player the default player for a file type.

How do I make Windows Media Player the default player for a file type?

You can make Windows Media Player the default player for a number of file types (formats). You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group to change which files the Player automatically plays.

  1. Open Default Programs by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Default Programs.

  2. Click Set your default programs.

  3. In the Programs list, click Windows Media Player, and then click Choose defaults for this program.

  4. Select the check boxes next to the file types that you want Windows Media Player to play by default.

    If you don't want Windows Media Player to play a particular file type by default, go back to Set your default programs and choose a different program to be the default player for that file type.

    Note that the Player might not be able to play a file, even though you have selected its file type. This can occur if the file uses a codec that is not installed on your computer. For information about finding and downloading codecs, see Codecs: frequently asked questions.

    Also note that Windows Media Player cannot be set as the default player for every file type that Windows Media Player can play. For more information about all of the file types that the Player supports, go to the Windows Media Player multimedia file formats webpage.

Why do I get an error when I try to play streams from certain servers?

This can happen for a variety of reasons.

  • You or the server might be experiencing temporary network connectivity problems.

  • If you are using your computer at work, your network administrator might be blocking certain types of streams.

  • Windows Media Player might not be configured correctly.

    For information about configuring the Player for streaming, see Which protocols does Windows Media Player use for streaming?

  • The server might not be configured correctly.

    For example, if the server is running Windows Media Services 4.1 or earlier, the Windows Media Services server control protocols might not be configured properly for streaming to Windows Media Player 11. For more information, go to the Windows Media Services FAQ online.

Why does Windows Media Player frequently become unresponsive or close unexpectedly?

Windows Media Player interacts with many system components, including hardware drivers, audio and video codecs, and DirectShow filters. It is possible that the Player is encountering problems because of a faulty or incompatible component from a software provider other than Microsoft.

In particular, we recommend that you use caution when installing codecs that aren't listed on WMPlugins.com or Microsoft.com, such as some of the free codec packs available on the Internet that claim to include codecs from a wide variety of companies or organizations. Incompatibilities are known to exist with some of the components in these codec packs that can cause serious playback issues in Windows Media Player and other multimedia programs, lead to system corruption, and make it difficult for Microsoft Support to diagnose and troubleshoot playback issues.

For these reasons, we strongly discourage you from installing these types of codec packs, and recommend that you remove them if you have installed them and you are having problems with the Player. We recommend that you only install codecs, filters, or plug-ins from trusted, authorized sources, such as the website of the official supplier. Even then, we recommend that you use caution, because many codec suppliers offer minimal customer support.

We also recommend that you set a system restore point before installing any digital media components. This enables you to return to your original system configuration, if necessary. For more information about setting restore points, see What is System Restore?

For more information about codecs, see Codecs: frequently asked questions.

How do I prevent videos from automatically playing in full-screen mode?

Normally, Windows Media Player only plays videos in full-screen mode when you click the View full screen button Picture of the View full screen button or press ALT+ENTER. However, in some cases, videos might play in full-screen mode automatically.

Frequently, this issue occurs if you are using multiple monitors and your video card (also known as a display adapter, video adapter, graphics adapter, or graphics board) is configured to use clone mode (a multi-monitor mode that displays the same image on two or more monitors). You might be able to resolve the full-screen problem by turning off clone mode for one or more of your monitors.

In some cases, this issue can also occur if your video card is configured to use zoom mode (a mode that allows you to magnify a portion of your screen). You might be able to resolve the full-screen problem by turning off zoom mode.

The steps required to turn off clone mode or zoom mode vary by video card model and video card driver version. General instructions follow. For instructions specific to your particular hardware configuration, go to the website of your computer or video card manufacturer.

  1. Open Display Settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, clicking Personalization, and then clicking Display Settings.

  2. Click Advanced Settings, look for the clone mode or zoom mode setting on one of the tabs (try starting with any tab that includes the brand or model name of your video card), and then turn off the feature.