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Can’t Play AVI Files in Window Media Player?

Are you trying to play an AVI file using Windows Media Player but the video won’t play? Maybe you see the first frame of the video and all the rest are blank? Or maybe you are getting an error that the video format is not supported?

Even though Windows Media Player has built-in support for playing AVI files, you can still run into problems. In this article, I will explain the reasons why AVI videos may not play and what you can do to fix the problem.

Understanding the AVI format

The first thing you need to understand about AVI, also known as Audio Video Interlaced, is that it is a very old container format created by Microsoft in 1992. This means that the AVI file contains streams of audio and video data that can be played back together synchronously.

This is important because the format of the audio or video stream may differ within the AVI container. For example, a video stream can be compressed using the DivX, Xvid, H.264, VP9, ??or MPEG-4 codec.

If your AVI file contains a video stream that uses a more modern codec for compression, Windows Media Player may not play it because it cannot decompress that particular codec.

Basically you have four solutions to this problem: use a newer version of Windows Media Player, convert the video to another format like MP4, WMV, etc., Install the required codecs on your system so that Windows Media Player can decompress the video stream, or use another media player, for example VLC, which already supports almost all existing codecs.

For a more complete understanding of all of this, check out my guide on codecs, container formats, and transcoding.

A newer version of WMP

Depending on which version of Windows you are using, you might be able to fix the problem simply by updating Windows, which will give you a newer version of WMP.

If you are using Windows XP or Windows Vista, the latest version that will work on those operating systems is Windows Media Player 11. If you are using Windows 7 or later, then you are using the latest version, that is 12. Version 12 can be playable most formats including MP4, MOV, AAC, H.264 and M2TS.

If you are using Vista or XP, it is probably worth updating it, and not just because you are getting a slightly better version of Windows Media Player! Unfortunately, XP and Vista users will have to pay to upgrade their machines to Windows 10 or invest in a new machine.

If you prefer an older OS, keep reading to find other solutions.

Convert AVI Video

If you need to use Windows Media Player and the video does not play, you can try converting the video to another supported format.

The easiest way to do this is to use the free HandBrake software. Please note that when using HandBrake, the video will be converted to MP4 format using the H.264 codec. Vista and XP users will not be able to play these videos using WMP 11. These users need to upgrade as previously mentioned or use a third party media player such as VLC which I mention below.

This is mainly for Windows 7 and later users who have an AVI file that uses a different codec not supported in WMP 12.

HandBrake is also very easy to use. Just click the Source button, then click File and navigate to the location of your AVI file.

After scanning, you can leave everything as it is and just click the “Start” button. Your file will be converted to an MP4 file in the same directory as the original video file.

Install codec packs or use VLC

If the problem is with a codec and you must be using Windows Media Player, your only other option is to download a codec pack. It used to be very common, but nowadays it is quite rare.

You have to be careful when downloading codec packages because some of them contain malware, viruses, etc. and will destroy your system. I highly recommend downloading the VLC media player instead and using it as it already contains all the old and modern codecs by default and is safe.

If you absolutely must, you can read my previous post on downloading codecs for Windows Media Player

The AVI file is corrupt

Besides the codec issue, you may also have problems playing the AVI file if it is damaged or damaged. Usually this problem can be solved by using third-party recovery tools.

Luckily, I have written articles on how to play corrupted AVI files and how to recover corrupted AVI files. If the AVI files are intact, the problem might be with the WMP itself. Below are a few more possible solutions.

Windows Media Player problems

One possible simple solution is to make sure the file type is associated with WMP. You can do this by opening Windows Media Player, selecting Tools and clicking Options. Please note this is only for older WMP versions.

Now go to the File Types tab and make sure AVI is selected in the list. If it is not selected, it could be the reason why your videos are not playing.

Another solution that worked for some is to use System Restore to revert to a previous system state. If WMP used to play your AVI file and now it doesn’t, then System Restore might fix the problem.

You can read my previous post on System Restore and how to enable it. On the System Protection tab, just click the System Restore button. If you’ve disabled or disabled System Restore, keep reading.

You can also try running the DOS System File Checker command, which checks all system files and replaces damaged or deleted ones with originals. You can run the command by going to Start, Run and typing CMD. At the command prompt, enter the following:

sfc / scannow

If you still can’t play AVI files in Windows Media Player, please leave a comment and I’ll try to help! Enjoy!

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