How to play unsupported video formats on a Windows 10 PC?

By ivan.diskin | December 3, 2019 |

greater than 9 minutes

Videos come in different formats, so it is only natural that you sometimes run into a video format that is not supported on your computer. In the projected scenario, you will see an error message stating that the video is unsupported or the clip cannot be played. You are probably here to learn how to get around the issue described.

What does it mean when it says a video codec is not supported?

First, you must understand that codec refers to the encoding software (or code standard) that compresses and decompresses video files. In other words, codecs are generally used to convert uncompressed video files to compressed formats and vice versa. The algorithms that define codecs ensure that the size of video files gets reduced. They also provide the means of decomposition when required.

Well, there are different types or forms of codecs available. They are mostly used to shrink and encode video files with varying technology for the conditions and variables involved. Therefore, if you see a message stating that a video codec is not supported on your PC, then it means your computer lacks the codec needed to decode and play a particular file. The same answer applies to the What does it mean when a video is unsupported? question – in case you are yet to figure this out.

How can I play unsupported videos on my PC?

If you must play the video which your computer reported to be in an unsupported format, then you have to do one of the following:

  1. Get a different video player (third-party application) and use it.
  2. Install the codecs that your computer needs to play the video.
  3. Convert the video from the unsupported format into one that your computer supports.

How to play unsupported video formats

Here, we intend to provide full descriptions for the methods or processes through which you get to play videos in unsupported formats on your Windows 10 device.

Get a different video player and use it:

If you saw the video format error message on your Windows 10 PC, then chances are that you tried to play the video using the built-in system app for videos. Well, the Windows utilities for video playback (Movies & TV and Windows Media Player) are capable of playing only certain types of videos. Unfortunately, the Windows media applications provided by Microsoft support a limited range of video formats.

For one thing, the Movies & TV app can only play videos in the most common formats, such as MOV, AVI, and MP4. Windows Media player supports more formats and other file types, which is why Microsoft’s effort to push users away from the pre-installed application seems to be a bit strange. For another, Microsoft has not updated the Windows Media Player in probably a decade, so the application itself is living on borrowed time.

Many third-party applications do things a lot better when it comes to playing videos. If you cannot get Windows Media Player to play a clip, then you must try a third-party video player. Ideally, you should get VLC Media Player. It is easily the best option when it comes to playing videos on Windows devices.

VLC can play almost all video and audio formats without issues – the application will handle literally anything you throw at it. Once you have VLC installed on your computer, you can rest knowing that a third-party player will play your video file, stream your content, or even play DVD – in scenarios where the default Movies & TV app comes up short. VLC Media Player is equipped with numerous customizations and presets, which users can modify to suit their needs or tastes.

You can open your video file in VLC through either of the following methods:

  • Locate the video file that you want to open. Click on it to get it highlighted, right-click on it to see the options available, and then choose Open with.

Now, you have to select VLC from the list of programs available.

  • Open the VLC application. Click on Media (an option situated close to the top-left corner of the window) to see a list and then select Open File.

Now, you have to navigate to the folder or directory housing the video file and choose it.

VLC is hardly the only third-party media player that you can use to play unsupported video formats. If VLC fails to do well on your computer for any reason – which is quite an unlikely event – then you have to consider alternatives.

MPV is another powerful video player that you can install and use to play videos. Its developers released the application on almost all the major platforms and operating systems (including Linux, OS X, and Android). Therefore, if you are looking for a third-party media player that can run on all your devices, then MPV is a decent choice. With the MPV application installed on your computer, you can simply bring up its window and drag a file into the open MPV interface.

Install the codecs that your computer needs to play the video:

We believe you have come to terms with a codec being the form or type of software that your computer uses to decode video files into the appropriate imagery and audio (video rendering). Since your PC lacks the needed codec for the video file format that it could not play, you can fix things by downloading and installing the necessary video codec.

It is impractical to go about the job by searching for individual codecs and installing them one by one – since there are so many of them. Some sites are reported to host malicious applications or programs with harmful software embedded in them, so you have to watch where you get stuff from online. Furthermore, we must warn you of the risks and complications that might come into play given your quest to install video codes from sources on the web.

Ideally, you should get a third-party application to fetch and install the video codecs on your behalf. The K-Lite Codec Pack is one of the good applications that possess the most popular bundles of video codecs (FLV and WebM, for example). There is a good chance this application has the codec which your computer needs to play the video it struggled with earlier.

We already established that using a third-party media player to play video in unsupported formats is the best option. Nevertheless, you can achieve the same goal by installing K-Lite and getting it to add extra video formats to Windows Media Player and similar third-party media applications (that you installed on your computer). This procedure will not do enough to provide extra support for the Movies & TV app, which is the default media player application in Windows 10.

These instructions cover the downloading, installation, and setup processes for the K-Lite Codec Pack application:

  • First, you have to fire up your web browser application and then run a search task on Google for K-Lite Codec Pack.
  • Go to the appropriate web page. Download your preferred K-Lite Codec Pack variant and then run the installer.

The K-Lite Codec Pack installer or installation wizard window will be brought up now. The installer is supposed to default to the Normal installation mode, which is defined by preset settings. If you prefer to customize stuff, then you have to click on the radio button for Advanced to select this parameter instead.

  • Click on the Next button to proceed.
  • At this point, you will have to choose your preferred video player. The parameter here too will default to the K-lite default option.

If you intend to use the Movies & TV app or if Movies & TV is selected as your preferred video player, then the installer will warn that the operation cannot proceed. If you try to use VLC, then you will see the same warning. To be fair, VLC is already equipped with its own video codec set or package, which means there is no point in you trying to get additional codecs for it.

  • Ideally, you should choose Media Player Classic (which comes with the K-Lite Codec Pack ). Otherwise, you can select Windows Media Player (which is an old application) or any third-party player of your choice that works with the K-Lite Codec Pack.
  • At this stage, you have to confirm the other installation settings. Once you are sure everything is in order, you have to click on the Next button to proceed.

If you selected the Install MPC-HC as a secondary player parameter, then the phases we are about to describe will apply to you.

  • Here, you must go through the settings for K-Lite Media Player Classic to confirm that everything is in order. Click on the Next button to move to the next stage.
  • Now, you have to check the options that define K-Lite Media Player Classic settings.

Fortunately, the page is usually preset (with standard settings), so all you have to do is click on Next to continue – if you have no plans to alter or modify the hardware acceleration options that define the K-Lite Media Player Classic configuration.

  • Now, you have to choose your language options for subtitles and parameters for captions. You will also have to select your languages for the primary language, secondary language, and tertiary language fields.
  • Click on the Next button to move on.
  • On the menu that follows, you have to choose your preferred audio configuration. A preset is also available, so if you do not mind using the default settings (which are usually decent enough), then you can just click on Next to continue.
  • When you see the prompts for the installation of add-ons or extra software, you have to decline them all by clicking on the appropriate buttons.
  • Assuming you are now on the Ready to Install screen, you have to check and double-check the options and parameters that define the K-Lite installation process on your computer and then click on the Install button to initiate things.
  • Once all the installation processes reach completion, you will see the Finish button, which you can click on to dismiss the last window.

Convert the video from the unsupported format into one that your computer supports:

If you have made up your mind to use the Movies & TV app to play the video in an uncommon format (for any reason) or if the previous procedures did not do enough to deliver the results you were expecting, then the procedure here is more or less your last resort. Here, instead of trying to get an application to play an unsupported file, you will convert the clip into a format that the default Windows player can handle.

So, how do you convert a video from one format to another? We know of a couple of methods through which you can perform this task. For one, you can take advantage of online sites that offer video conversion services. Fire up your web browser and then run a search task on Google using the video formats involved as the query. For example, if you want to convert an FLV clip to MP4, then you have to search for “FLV to MP4”.

Typically, it goes this way: you have to upload your video, choose the new video format, and wait for the conversion processes to reach completion; then you will be able to download the converted clip. We must warn you of the risks that come with the usage of such services or tools online. You do not know where your stuff is being uploaded to or where it might end. Precautions are advised.

If you really have to convert a video in one format to another, then the offline conversion path is your best bet, especially if you do not want to contend with the security risks or potential problems associated with online conversion. For example, if you have VLC installed on your computer, then you use the conversion function in that application to do the job.

Yes, VLC is equipped with a built-in conversion menu through which users get to convert video clips or audio files to many formats, especially those common formats that Windows supports, such as MOV, AVI, and MP4.

Hopefully, by now, you have learned how to remove the unsupported video format error message in Windows 10 – since that is probably the reason you are here.

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