A file with the .mpeg (or .mpg) file extension is an MPEG video file format, which is a popular format for movies that are distributed on the internet. They use a specific type of compression that makes streaming and downloading much quicker than other popular video formats.

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What Is an MPEG File?

Developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group, the same people that brought you such formats as MP3 and MP4, MPEG is a video file format that uses either MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 file compression depending on how it will be used.

  • MPEG-1 was designed to compress VHS-quality raw video and CD audio down to 1.5 megabits per second without losing too much in quality, making it one of the most popular and widely compatible video/audio formats in the world. Video data for MPEG-1 is normally 30 fps (frames per second), with a resolution of about 352×240.
  • MPEG-2 was designed to compress video and audio for higher-quality videos and being chosen as the compression scheme for over-the-air digital television, satellite TV services, digital TV, and DVD Video. MPEG-2 video formats can capture video/audio at much higher bitrates than MPEG-1 (around six megabits per second), making it the “enhanced” version. Video data for MPEG-2 is normally 30 fps, with a max resolution of 720×480.

How Do I Open an MPEG File?

Because the fact MPEG video files are so widely compatible, you can open them with many different programs on different platforms, like Windows Media Player, iTunes, QuickTime, and VLC Media Player.

Opening an MPEG file is usually as easy as double-clicking the file and letting your OS decide which program to use. By default, Windows will use Windows Media Player, and macOS will use QuickTime.

Note: Windows users may have to install an MPEG-2 encoder to play this format on Windows Media Player.

If for some reason your OS doesn’t have a default program set up to open MPEG, that can easily be changed on either Windows or macOS. And you most likely won’t even have to do that, because when you install a new app, you can set the association with MPEG files during installation.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer a more robust media player, you might want to download a third-party app. We highly recommend VLC Player. It’s fast, open-source, free, and you can use it on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

VLC also supports pretty much every file format out there and is a highly capable player. Even Windows users might prefer it to a less-capable app like Windows Media Player.


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Brady Gavin has been immersed in technology for 15 years and has written over 150 detailed tutorials and explainers. He's covered everything from Windows 10 registry hacks to Chrome browser tips. Brady has a diploma in Computer Science from Camosun College in Victoria, BC.  
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