Why Won't a WMV File Play?


WMV (Windows Media Video) files are meant to be played in Windows Media Player. Other video player software can play WMV files provided they have the correct codec. If a WMV won't play, it is likely due to a missing WMV codec or an outdated WMV codec. Furthermore, Macintosh machines may have trouble playing WMV files due to platform incompatibility. Luckily, there are numerous ways to remedy this problem.


  • In order to play WMV files in Mac OS X, you must install Flip4Mac. Flip4Mac is a QuickTime plugin developed by Telestream and is available for free from Microsoft's website (see Resources). After installing Flip4Mac and rebooting your system, you should be able to play WMV files in OS X as if they were QuickTime (MOV) files.

Windows Media Codecs

  • The latest versions of Windows Media Player will download and install new codecs automatically. If your Windows Media Player still cannot locate the proper WMV codec, then you may need to upgrade you version of Windows Media Player. Visit the link in the Resources section below to download the latest version.

Corrupted Files

  • Occasionally, a WMV file will simply be corrupted and will not be able to play. This can happen due to an incomplete transfer or an interrupted download. Try deleting the file and attempting to download the WMV file again, this time ensuring that the download progress reaches 100 percent before closing your browser window or disconnecting from the Internet.

Browser Plugins

  • Some browsers require special plugins in order to play WMV files. For Internet Explorer, you will likely not need a plugin to play embedded WMV files. However, if the player fails to load, you may need to upgrade your version of Internet Explorer or contact the website administrator.

    For Firefox, you can install the WMV for Firefox plugin. See the Resources section for a link.

Other Players

  • There are other media players besides QuickTime and Windows Media Player that support WMV files. You may want to try RealPlayer, MPlayer, VLC Media Player, Zoom Player, ALLPlayer, The KMPlayer, GOM Player, PowerDVD or Media Player Classic.

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  • Photo Credit "Kidds CD." is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Pacdog (Paul Collins) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
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