How to Find Missing Video or Audio Codec

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If you've ever tried to watch a video in Windows Media Player, or any other media player for that matter, and got an error that the Video Codec wasn't installed, you know how frustrating that can be. Maybe you've tried to play a video file and got video, but no audio? If so, chances are pretty good that you are missing an audio codec.


Codec is short for "compression/decompression" and is used to compress a file for streaming and decompress a file for playback.


So how can you figure out what codec you need?

  • There are a few free software application that can give you codec information. My preferred tool for this is the GSpot Codec Information Appliance. You'll need to download the GSpot Codec Information Appliance and uncompress the file. You can access the site from the link in the Resource section below.

  • Once you have downloaded and uncompressed the .zip file. Run the gspot.exe file located inside the uncompressed folder. It does not actually install, you just run the application directly from the file.

  • From the gspot interface you can browse for a media (video or audio) file, or just drag and drop it directly onto the interface. It should take just a few seconds to inspect the file, and then display the codec information. It will indicate whether or not the audio and video files are installed.

  • Now, just search the Internet for the missing codec, install it, and your problem file should be a problem no more.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may also want to try MediaInfo, or VLC Media Player. Both of these free applications are capable of displaying Audio & Video codec information. See the links for these applications in the Resources section.
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