It happens sometimes that you download a video clip from the internet and have troubles playing that video file on your computer. This problem is most of the time codec related. You may for instance notice that the video is not playing at all, or that the screen stays black when you play the video, or that you cannot hear audio but see the video just fine.
One solution, which is not perfect, is to install a codec pack and hope that the codec that is needed for playback is included in that pack.
A drawback is that you install many codecs that you do not need on your system. Sometimes, they may override other codecs that you have installed as a side-effect.
A better approach is to scan the media file to find out which codecs have been used to encode the file. One freeware that is able to do this is Media Info.
Media Info loads the media file and scans it for codecs that are needed to playback the file. It displays extensive information about audio and video streams, the bitrate used to encode the movie and the names of the codec(s).
What I particularly like about the program is that it displays two links in its interface after the analysis. The first links to the official codec website where you can download it to your system to install and use it. The second links to a video player download that you can use to play the file directly and without codec installation.
All you need to do is to point the program to a video file on your computer, to get information about the codecs needed to play it on the computer. Media Info links directly to players that can play back the selected video file, and to the video codec so that you can download either to add support to your operating system.
The program can detect many different video formats, from mkv and ogg to subtitle formats and audio codecs. It is a useful program if you come upon a video file that you can't play on your system.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.