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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.

flip4macFlip4Mac Plugin

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-iconVLC 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

MPlayerOSX

MPlayer OSX

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.

Commented

  • Doug Ort |
    01/01/10
    Doug Ort

    I have Flip4Mac WMV 2.3.0.14.dmg installed in Desktop, but when QuickTime is called up to play a WMV file, I still get the error message "This is not a movie file." Is there something else I need to do with Flip4Mac to get a WMV to play?

  • acabada |
    22/04/10
    acabada

    Flip4MAc doesn't have the option for FULLSCREEN, you have to pay for it...

  • Nicholas Mead |
    22/04/10
    Nicholas Mead

    @Doug, The problem is probably because the file is a format that Flip4Mac either doesn't recognise or it is incomplete/corrupted.

    @Acabada, Thanks for the tip. Best to use VLC or MPlayer for full screen then.

  • Nancy |
    23/04/10
    Nancy

    I'm new to this. When I receive a WMV file, it opens as just a bunch of "jibberish" I'm new to the MAC - what do I do?

  • Nicholas Mead |
    26/04/10
    Nicholas Mead

    Hi Nancy, can you explain exactly what the problem is in more detail and I'll try to help :). I'm presuming that you've tried installing one of the programs mentioned above?

  • Dalton |
    08/05/10
    Dalton

    I have Flip4Mac on my laptop with OS X Version 10.5.8 Most of the time when I attempt to play a .wmv file all works fine. Occasionally, it will not give me the audio. I tried downloading VLC but when I try those same files, it's says it is a file type .wmas and it can't convert it. I have need to play a lot of these files as they come from a stock and options subscription service that I value but just can't seem to get the videos to work. Any thoughts?

  • Nicholas Mead |
    10/05/10
    Nicholas Mead

    Have you got the latest version of Flip4Mac installed?

    http://flip4mac-wmv.en.softonic.com/mac

    Also, are the files you are trying to play protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM). Subscription services often do protect their media with DRM so that it can't be duplicated or posted elsewhere by viewers. In such cases, the only way to watch the video is using Windows Media Player.

  • Sara |
    16/05/10
    Sara

    so, my problem is that all the teachers at my highshool have mac books and i have windows on my laptop. i need to send a wmv video to my teacher but obviously, that won't play for him. i can't make him download all these plug-ins and such so is there any way i can convert it on MY computer so when i send it to him it will work?

    please and thank you sara :)

  • Nicholas Mead |
    17/05/10
    Nicholas Mead

    Sara, I would recommend the simplest solution for your teachers is to download VLC MediaPlayer:

    http://vlc-media-player.en.softonic.com/mac

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  • Betty Lang |
    15/01/11
    Betty Lang

    I just want to know what the rental unit costs and where it is.Betty Lang

  • John Green |
    08/02/11
    John Green

    You can watch WMV files using Elmedia Player http://elmedia-player-for-mac.en.softonic.com/mac

  • Laurie |
    28/03/11
    Laurie

    I am new to the Mac world. I downloaded MPlayer OSX. It is in my download file. I moved the file to the applications folder and I only get audio. I put the file back in downloads and I get nothing. HELP!!

  • Nick Mead |
    29/03/11
    Nick Mead

    @Laurie, What kind of video file are you trying to play? If MPlayerX won't work for you, try VLC Media Player.

  • Laurie |
    30/03/11
    Laurie

    Nick...I was trying to play wmv... I tried a few player or add ons, but my problem is that I'm not sure if I am installing them correctly. They don't give step by step instructions (which I need being so new to the Mac system), I have since deleted the player.

  • Nick Mead |
    31/03/11
    Nick Mead

    @Laurie, Ok. In future, when you've downloaded a DMG file, just double click on it to open it and drag the icon to your Applications folder and the program is installed and should work properly. Much easier than Windows ;)

  • gary Stevenson |
    23/11/11
    gary Stevenson

    I'm out in the boondocks in alaska,come to town now and then,spent much gold for my mac,gess there's to much snow for my snow lep.[can't spell ether],so all the odd pc's will have to go!

  • gary Stevenson |
    23/11/11
    gary Stevenson

    I'm out in the boondocks in alaska,come to town now and then,spent much gold for my mac,gess there's to much snow for my snow lep.[can't spell ether],so all the odd pc's will have to go!

  • Mario |
    07/03/12
    Mario

    Flip4Mac does not work on Mac OS X Lion. I lost the capability of playing .WMV videos since I installed it. Uninstalling and reinstalling the latest free or paid version of Flip4Mac also does not work. All I get is a black screen and sound, but nothing else. I tried everything in the forums and nothing fixes it. It is ANNOYING!!!! They should stop advertising a product that does not work!!!!

  • Nick Mead |
    08/03/12
    Nick Mead

    @Mario, It does work but not with QuickTime X. Install QuickTime 7.6.6 which supports plugins like Flip4Mac and it should work.

  • Jacobscomeon |
    24/03/14
    Jacobscomeon

    Faasoft Video Converter for Mac can play wmv files on Mac and also convert wmv files to mp4, avi and so on.

  • submit.idealshare |
    01/04/14
    submit.idealshare

    i recommend iDealshare VideoGo which has both Mac and Windows version and support directly play or convert all kinds of video files like wmv, avi, mp4, mov, mkv, vob, mxf, mts, rmvb, mod, avchd, tod, flv and etc

24/11/14
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