Free Software I Use – Media Players

Avoid installing “random” codec packs that could mess up your video and audio codecs on you machine. That could ultimately lead to requiring you to rebuild your machine.

The second most frequently asked question I get asked by friends is – how come I can’t play this pod cast/video file that I downloaded off the internet? I’ve even installed such and such codec pack as mentioned on the website. And now these other files I have that were working fine also stopped playing. I even uninstalled the codec pack; but the problem still exist – help!

And this help is generally, helping them rebuild their system. As the original video/audio codecs on the system had been deleted (when they uninstalled the third party codec pack) or reference links to them have been removed (during the installation of the third party codec pack). It would take much longer to try and diagnose which case it was and re-installing/re-linking the original video/audio codecs – so if you’re currently in this situation. I recommend doing a system repair first and if that doesn’t work. A rebuild is required.

To avoid getting into such scenarios – I suggest you do NOT install any third party codec pack. Instead install a “not so flash” looking media player and associate all the non-regular formats (e.g. MKV) that your system media player doesn’t play to it.

These media players come with their own codecs and will allow you to play all the file types your system media player doesn’t support. But will not make any unnecessary system file changes – thus won’t break any of your existing video/audio codecs on your machine. And because the codecs are installed along with the media player, you are guaranteed that the codecs will work fine and shouldn’t run into any codec/media player compatibility issue.

VLC Media Player [OSX/Windows/Android/Windows Phone/iOS]

Figure 1. VLC Media Player Product banner.

VLC Media Player is my favourite media player of all. It’s free and cross platform, so is available for the MAC, PC, and Linux. I’ve not had any issues with it, and with version 2. The entire user interface has been revamped and is now one sweet media player.

Media Player Classic Home Cinema [Windows]

Figure 2. Media Player Classic Home Cinema Product banner.

Media Player Classic Home Cinema is a nice alternative to VLC Media Player for Windows users.

MX Video Player [Android/iOS]

Figure 3. MX Video Player Product banner.

MX Video Player for Android just plays any media file you throw at it. No need to import/convert files or anything. Just browse to the file on your Android device and hit open with MX Video Player. I’ve yet to have it come back to me and tell me it doesn’t support a certain type of media file yet. The only downside to the Free version is that it contains ads – my solution to this is: I just turn off my wifi, which as a added bonus also saves me a bit of battery allowing me to use my tablet longer. :) But if you really like it, I suggest you get the paid version.

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