This article lists the multimedia file types that are supported by Windows Media Player 12. (How to determine your version of Windows Media Player).
Note: Additional file formats might be supported if you install new codecs in Windows. For more information, see Codecs: frequently asked questions.
- Windows Media formats (.asf, .wma, .wmv, .wm)
- Windows Media Metafiles (.asx, .wax, .wvx, .wmx, wpl)
- Microsoft Digital Video Recording (.dvr-ms)
- Windows Media Download Package (.wmd)
- Audio Visual Interleave (.avi)
- Moving Pictures Experts Group (.mpg, .mpeg, .m1v, .mp2, .mp3, .mpa, .mpe, .m3u)
- Musical Instrument Digital Interface (.mid, .midi, .rmi)
- Audio Interchange File Format (.aif, .aifc, .aiff)
- Sun Microsystems and NeXT (.au, .snd)
- Audio for Windows (.wav)
- CD Audio Track (.cda)
- Indeo Video Technology (.ivf)
- Windows Media Player Skins (.wmz, .wms)
- QuickTime Movie file (.mov)
- MP4 Audio file (.m4a)
- MP4 Video file (.mp4, .m4v, .mp4v, .3g2, .3gp2, .3gp, .3gpp)
- Windows audio file (.aac, .adt, .adts)
- MPEG-2 TS Video file (.m2ts)
- Free Lossless Audio Codec (.flac)
Detailed information about supported file types
Advanced Systems Format (.asf)The Advanced Systems Format (ASF) is the preferred Windows Media file format. With Windows Media Player, if the appropriate codecs are installed on your computer, you can play audio content, video content, or both, that is compressed with a wide variety of codecs and that is stored in an .asf file. Additionally, you can stream audio and video content with Windows Media Services, or you can package that content with Windows Media Rights Manager.
ASF is an extensible file format that stores synchronized multimedia data. It supports data delivery over a wide variety of networks and protocols. It is also suitable for local playback. ASF supports advanced multimedia capabilities including extensible media types, component download, scalable media types, author-specified stream prioritization, multiple language support, and extensive bibliographic capabilities that include document and content management.
Typically, ASF files that contain audio content that is compressed with the Windows Media Audio (WMA) codec use the .wma extension. Similarly, ASF files that contain audio content, video content, or both, that is compressed with Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV) codecs use the .wmv extension. Finally, content that is compressed with any other codec use the generic .asf extension. For more information about ASF, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
Windows Media Audio (.wma)Windows Media Audio (.wma) files are Advanced Systems Format (.asf) files that include audio that is compressed with the Windows Media Audio (WMA) codec. By using a separate extension, users can install multiple players on their computer and associate certain players with the .wma extension for playback of audio-only sources.
Windows Media Video (.wmv, .wm)Windows Media Video (.wmv) files are Advanced Systems Format (.asf) files that include audio, video, or both compressed with Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV) codecs. By using a separate extension, you can install multiple players on your computer and associate certain players with the .wmv extension for playback of audio and video sources.
Advanced Stream Redirector (.asx)Advanced Stream Redirector (.asx) files, also known as Windows Media Metafiles, are text files that provide information about a file stream and its presentation. ASX files go beyond the simple task of defining playlists to provide Windows Media Player with information about how to present particular media items of the playlist.
Windows Media Metafiles are based on XML syntax and can be encoded in either ANSI or UNICODE (UTF-8) format. They are made up of various elements with their associated tags and attributes. Each element in a Windows Media metafile defines a particular setting or action in Windows Media Player.
ASX files can point to any media file type that Windows Media Player recognizes and supports.
For more information about Windows Media Metafiles, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
Windows Media Audio Redirector (.wax)Windows Media Audio Redirector (.wax) files are Windows Media Metafiles that reference Windows Media Audio (.wma) files.
Windows Media Video Redirector (.wvx)Windows Media Video Redirector (.wvx) files are Windows Media Metafiles that reference Windows Media Video (.wmv) files
Windows Media Redirector (.wmx)Versions of Windows Media Player that support this file type: Windows Media Redirector (.wmx) files are Windows Media Metafiles that reference Windows Media Audio (.wma), Windows Media Video (.wmv) files, or both.
Windows Media Player Playlist (.wpl)Windows Media Player Playlist (.wpl) files are client-side playlists that are written in a proprietary format. Microsoft introduced this file format in Windows Media Player 9 Series. The .wpl format can create dynamic playlists, whereas .asx and .m3u formats cannot. In Windows Media Player 9 Series, the auto playlist feature uses the .wpl format. The .wpl format is the default file format used for playlists that you save in Windows Media Player 9 Series.
To play back unprotected *.dvr-ms files on Windows XP-based computers, you must have the following software and hardware components:
- Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later.
- The update that is documented in the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base must be installed on the computer:
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:810243 DirectShow playback support for files recorded with Windows XP Media Center Edition
- A Windows XP-compatible DVD decoder.
To download a .wmd package from a Web site, click the link to the package. When the package is downloaded to your computer, Windows Media Player automatically extracts the files that are contained in the package, adds the playlists in the package, adds the content to Media Library, displays the border skin in the
Now Playing pane of Windows Media Player (in full mode), and then plays the first item in the playlist. For more information about .wmd files, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
Audio content or video content that is compressed with a wide variety of codecs can be stored in an .avi file and played in Windows Media Player, if the appropriate codecs are installed on the computer. Video codecs that are frequently used in .avi files include the following codecs:
- DivX codec
For more information, visit the following DivX Web site:
- Cinepak codec
For more information, visit the following Cinepak Web site:
- Indeo codec
For more information, visit the following Ligos Web site:
- DV codec
- MJPEG codec
- Uncompressed RGB or YUY2 codec
- MP3 codec
- Microsoft Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation (MS ADPCM)
- Uncompressed Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) codec
MPEG-1 (.mpeg, .mpg, .m1v)This standard permits the coding of progressive video at a transmission rate of about 1.5 million bits per second (bps). This file format was designed specifically for use with Video-CD and CD-i media. The most common implementations of the MPEG-1 standard provides a video resolution of 352x240 at 30 frames per second (fps). When you use this standard, you receive a video that is slightly lower-quality than typical VCR videos.
Files that use the .m1v extension typically are MPEG-1 elementary streams that contain only video information. Files that use .mpg or .mpeg extensions typically are MPEG-1 system streams that contain MPEG-1-encoded video and MPEG-1 Layer II (MP2)-encoded audio.
However, MPEG-1 system streams do not exclusively use the .mpg and .mpeg extensions. MPEG-2 program streams also frequently use .mpg and .mpeg file extensions, but they contain MPEG-2-encoded video. Because Microsoft Windows operating systems provide only an MPEG-1 video decoder, Windows Media Player cannot play MPEG-2 program streams without an additional MPEG-2 video decoder (also known as a DVD decoder pack) installed. For more information about purchasing DVD decoder packs, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
MPEG Audio Layer III (.mp3)This standard has also evolved from early MPEG work. It is an audio compression technology that is part of the MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 specifications. The Fraunhofer Institute developed MP3 in Germany in 1991. MP3 uses perceptual audio coding to compress CD-quality sound with almost the same fidelity.
MPEG Audio Layer II (.mp2, .mpa)MPEG Audio Layer II is an audio-coding standard that was originally developed as a part of the MPEG-1 specification and was later updated for the MPEG-2 specification.
M3U (.m3u)An .m3u file is a metafile playlist that references .mp3 files and provides additional metadata for the items in the playlist.
A sound (.snd) file is an interchangeable sound file format that is used on Sun, NeXt, and Silicon Graphics computers. The file typically contains raw sound data that is followed by a text identifier.
Similar to the AVI and ASF format, WAV is only a file container. Audio content that is compressed with a wide variety of codecs and that is stored in a .wav file can be played back in Windows Media Player if the appropriate codecs are installed on the computer. The most common audio codecs that are used in .wav files include Microsoft Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation (MS ADPCM) and uncompressed Pulse Code Modulation (PCM).
- Right-click the link to the .ivf file, and then click
Save Target As.
- Specify a location on your hard disk where you want to save the file.
- Double-click the file that you saved to your hard disk to play the file.
A .wmz file is a compressed Zip archive that contains a Windows Media Player skin definition file and associated Jscript files and its supporting graphic files.
The MPEG-4 file format, as defined by the MPEG-4 specification, contains MPEG-4 encoded video and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC)-encoded audio content. It typically uses the .mp4 extension. Windows Media Player does not support the playback of the .mp4 file format. You can play back .mp4 media files in Windows Media Player when you install DirectShow-compatible MPEG-4 decoder packs. DirectShow-compatible MPEG-4 decoder packs include the Ligos LSX-MPEG Player and the EnvivioTV.
For more information about the Ligos LSX-MPEG Player, visit the following Ligos Web site:
- Microsoft MPEG-4 v1
- Microsoft MPEG-4 v2
- Microsoft MPEG-4 v3
- ISO MPEG-4 v1
.mp4v file is MPEG-4 video file.
.3gp (3GPP file format) is a multimedia container format defined by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for 3G UMTS multimedia services. It is used on 3G mobile phones but can also be played on some 2G and 4G phones.
.3g2 (3GPP2 file format) is a multimedia container format defined by the 3GPP2 for 3G CDMA2000 multimedia services. It is very similar to the 3GP file format, but has some extensions and limitations in comparison to 3GP.
The .3gp2 file type is primarily associated with '3GPP2' .
Audio Data Transport Stream (.adts) is used if the data is to be streamed within a MPEG-2 transport stream, consisting of a series of frames, each frame having a header followed by the AAC audio data.