A very common problem Mac users have is playing Windows Media Video (WMV) files. When your Mac tries to open WMV files by default in QuickTime, you'll commonly receive an error message along the lines of 'This is not a movie file'. The reason behind this it the fact that WMV files use Microsoft proprietary codecs that don't work in OS X. This gets really annoying if you come across a WMV file and want to watch it on your Mac.
Microsoft discontinued Windows Media Player for Mac way back in 2006, meaning there's no longer a tailor made player for the WMV format for OS X. Fortunately, there are a few free and easy solutions. Below are the top 3 WMV compatible players for Mac.
This is probably the easiest solution to watch WMV files because it enables QuickTime playback of WMV files. This plugin, created by Telestream, allows you to import, export and play Windows Media video and audio files on your Mac. The Flip4Mac WMV plug-in also works with other QuickTime based apps like iMovie and Final Cut Pro, meaning you can even edit WMV files on your Mac too.
Download Flip4Mac Plugin
VLC Media Player
The most versatile player out there, VLC media players lets you play WMV files without the Flip4Mac Plugin, although it's only a playback solution; it doesn't let you edit WMV files in QuickTime supported apps including iMovie and Final Cut. The great thing about VLC Media Player, however, is that it's lightweight, fast, and can handle almost any media format you throw at it.
Download VLC Media Player
This player emerged out of the Google Codes project as an attempt to create an all-round player. MPlayer OSX is a simple but powerful video player designed specifically for Mac and can handle WMV playback. It features more options and preferences than VLC Player, with the only drawback being that the first time it plays a video, it has to build a font cache, which can take a while. Luckily, it only has to be done once.
Download MPlayer OSX
You don't need Windows Media Player to watch WMV files on a Mac, and with these options, you'll have no problem opening and enjoying WMV files from the comfort of your Apple computer.
If you're having more compatibility issues, check out our article on how to format a disk for both Mac and PC.
Original article published on July 6, 2009.