Windows apps like Movies & TV and Windows Media Player allow the playback of certain types of video only. If you’re struggling to play unsupported video formats, you’ll need to use a third-party video player or codec or convert the file instead.
If you’re unsure whether Windows supports your video file format, try it first. Open the Movies & TV app or the Windows Media Player and attempt to open the file. If you get a “format is not supported” error, you’ll need to try one of the methods below.
If you can’t find the Movies & TV app, look for Films & TV instead. This is the alternative name for the app in certain markets like the UK and Australia. If it isn’t installed, download Movies & TV from the Microsoft Store.
Use a Third-Party Video Player
The Movies & TV app supports only some common formats like MOV, AVI, and MP4. Windows Media Player supports a number of other file types, but Microsoft appears to be pushing users away from the pre-installed application.
Because the Movies & TV app doesn’t support all video file formats, and Windows Media Player hasn’t been updated in a decade, the best way to play unsupported video files on Windows 10 is to use a third-party video player.
VLC Media Player
We recommend VLC Media Player as the best option for most Windows 10 users. It’s capable of playing almost all video and audio file formats, making it a powerful alternative to the default players.
You can, in almost every scenario, assume that VLC will play your video file, live stream, or DVD if the default Movies & TV app fails to do so. It also comes with hundreds of different options for customization, too.
To open your video file in VLC, click Media > Open File from the top menu.
MPV is a powerful alternative video player for Windows users. It’s cross-platform, so it’s an option for Linux, macOS, and Android.
Unlike the endless menus and customization VLC offers, MPV is simple and straightforward, with no menus and only the basic playback options available. It’s also portable, meaning you can run it from a USB flash drive.
To open your video file in MPV and begin playback, simply drag a file into the open MPV interface.
The PotPlayer media player is one of the best video players for power users. It offers a huge amount of customization, supports hardware acceleration for high-resolution videos, and includes a built-in video editor to edit video files during playback.
The default interface is all black, but you can customize it with various built-in themes and color schemes.
To open media files in PotPlayer, right-click inside the open PotPlayer interface or click the “PotPlayer” button in the top left. From there, click “Open File(s)” to select your video file.
Changing the Default Video Player
If you want to use a third-party player as your default media player, you’ll need to change this in your Windows 10 settings.
You can access the Settings menu by right-clicking your Windows Start menu button in the taskbar and clicking the “Settings” button. From there, select Apps > Default Apps.
In the “Default Apps” menu, click on the existing video player. If installed, the Movies & TV app will likely be the default.
Select your third-party media player from the drop-down list. Once selected, Windows will open any video files it detects using your chosen third-party player instead.
Install Additional Video Codecs
A codec is a type of software that “decodes” video files into the appropriate imagery and audio. If your PC lacks the right codec for your video file format, the video won’t load. You can download and install third-party video codecs to your PC to get around the problem.
Beware, however. Less-than-reputable sites, including illegal streaming sites, do include malicious ads for codec downloads that can harm your PC.
To avoid this risk, download K-Lite Codec Pack, one of the most popular bundles of video codecs. It adds support for a significant number of media file formats, including FLV and WebM.
While we recommend using a third-party player in the first instance, installing K-Lite will add extra video format support to Windows Media Player and some other third-party video players. This method won’t work for the default Movies & TV app, however.
To start, download your chosen K-Lite Codec Pack variant and run the installer, which will default to a “Normal” installation mode with pre-set settings. If you want to customize this, select “Advanced” instead.
Click “Next” to proceed to the next installation stage.
You’ll need to select your preferred video player. This will default to K-Lite’s default option. Change this to your preferred video player.
If you’re using the Movies & TV app and select this as your preferred video player, the installer will inform you this won’t work.
If you’re using VLC, you’ll receive a similar warning. VLC contains its own set of video codecs, so this isn’t necessary.
Select the K-Lite included Media Player Classic, the older Windows Media Player, or a third-party player instead.
Confirm the other installation settings, as preferred, and then click “Next” to continue.
The next few stages will appear if you selected the “Install MPC-HC as a Secondary Player” option on the previous screen.
Confirm the settings for K-Lite’s Media Player Classic player, and then click “Next” to proceed to the next stage.
Confirm the next stage of K-Lite Media Player Classic settings. This stage is pre-set, so press “Next” to continue unless you want to alter the hardware acceleration options for K-Lite Media Player Classic.
Set your language options for subtitles and captions at the next stage. Choose your primary, secondary, and tertiary languages from the drop-down menus.
Once you’re ready, click “Next” to continue.
Choose your preferred audio configuration on the next menu. This is also pre-set, so if you’d prefer, use the default settings and click “Next” to continue.
If asked, decline any additional add-on software options at the next stage by clicking the “Decline” button.
Finally, double-check your K-Lite installation options and then click the “Install” button to begin.
Once the installation is complete, click the “Finish” button.
Your chosen media player should now let you begin playback of some of the additional video file formats included in the pack.
Convert to Another Video Format
If you’re set on using the Movies & TV app, your only option is to convert unsupported video files to formats that the default Windows player can open.
There are a few ways you could do this. Online sites exist that will automatically convert video files to other formats. Searching for “FLV to MP4,” for instance, will provide you with a list of potential online conversion sites, but these may carry risks and aren’t recommended.
The best option, especially for users with VLC installed, is to convert video files using VLC instead.
VLC has a built-in conversion menu for users looking to convert video and audio files to formats that Windows does support, such as MOV, AVI, MP4, and others.
Once VLC has converted your files to a Windows-friendly format, you can then open them in the Movies & TV app for playback.