Here are answers to some common questions about playing audio or video files in Windows Media Player.

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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specific files), the driver software for your sound card (also known as a sound controller or audio device) might be out-of-date.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. In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click 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're 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 lines appearing in the video, flickering or choppy 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for your video card (also known as a display adapter, video adapter, graphics adapter, or graphics board) might be out-of-date.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. In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click 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're 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 Screen Resolution by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, and then, under Appearance and Personalization, clicking Adjust screen resolution.

  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 a video file?

The video codec that's required to decode and display the video might not be installed on your computer.

For example, 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.

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.

    Notes

    • 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 isn't installed on your computer. For information about finding and downloading codecs, see Codecs: frequently asked questions.

    • Windows Media Player can't be set as the default player for every file type that Windows Media Player can play. Some file types aren't supported.

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.

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, 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 Screen Resolution by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, and then, under Appearance and Personalization, clicking Adjust screen resolution.

  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.