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How To Play AVI Files On Windows Media Player

How To Play AVI Files On Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player is a perfectly adequate tool for viewing video files, handling playback of fast-moving, challenging high resolution files as smoothly and responsively as your hardware setup can handle. Unfortunately, it needs a bit of tampering with before it can decode and play many common .AVI files on the internet.

AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave, which is a multimedia container format, that ordinarily, Windows Media Player has no problems opening. However, many AVI files contain video streams that are encoded using codecs that Windows Media Player cannot normally interpret – and when you attempt to playback such a file, you will likely just hear the audio stream. You might be familiar with the kind of green and purple, garbled mess that often graces the screen in this situation.

In order to squeeze both sound and vision from the majority of AVI files out there, it is necessary to equip Windows Media Player with some codecs. The two most common codecs for AVI files are DivX and Xvid, and installing both sets of libraries will give you a very good chance of being able to playback the majority of AVI files on the internet. For many PC users, this is one of the priority tasks to be completed after a clean Windows installation. Our guide talks you through this process step-by-step.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • 1

    It doesn’t matter which order you install the codecs in, but for the purposes of this guide, let’s start with Xvid. Double click the installer you previously downloaded to kick things off, and follow the onscreen prompts.

  • 2

    Once the installation process is completed, it’s a good idea to reboot your PC.

  • 3


    Next, launch the installer for DivX in much the same way as you did Xvid previously. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the installation process.

  • 4

    Once installation of DivX has finished, reboot your PC again.

  • 5

    When your PC restarts, Windows Media Player should now be capable of handling almost any AVI file you throw at it (with the exception of AVIs that are encoded with some of the more obscure codecs).

Tips & Advice

  • Some Codec packs available on the internet come with a built-in player, like DiVX. The DivX Player is a great lightweight alternative to Windows Media Player, and comes available in Free and Pro versions (the Pro flavour costs 14.99€).
  • Still having trouble playing back certain AVI files? GSpot is a useful tool that analyses the video stream of a file to determine the encoding method. Once finished, it generates a report, which includes which codec you will need to download before you can view the file.

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