Find out which codec is missing for playback

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 8, 2006
Updated • Sep 11, 2018
Tutorials, Video

It happens sometimes that you download a video clip from the internet and have trouble playing that video file on your computer. This problem is most of the time codec related provided that the download completed successfully.

You may for instance notice that the video does not play 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 and may introduce issues as a consequence; most users probably would prefer a solution that points them to the right codec or right player instead to play the file.

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 play 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.

Find out which codec is missing for playback
Article Name
Find out which codec is missing for playback
A video does not play correctly on your Windows PC? Find out which media codec is missing to play it on the computer.
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. PhredE said on June 23, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Okay, Martin, that’s potentially helpful, but what’s the answer?
    I see a lot of words in MediaInfo:- Matroska, UTC, Real 4, mkvmerge, AAC LC-SBR, libmatro, UTF-8, SSA.
    Surely you could be more expansive as to what codec to add?

    And you know if something can go wrong, it will. How about taking us further with a (faulty at first) website that provides a codec, and show us how to install it (as an admin, I imagine)?

    Please note, also, that the first link/button refers to a ‘player’ for the file; you refer to the site as a place to get a codec.
    ‘Go to the website of a player for this file’
    ‘The first links to the official codec website where you can download it to your system to install and use[ it].’ [grammar correction]
    Could you explain the apparent difference?

  2. Cath said on January 3, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Brilliant! Thanks so much!

  3. cant.... said on November 27, 2010 at 4:43 am

    i cant there is no more space on my computer i have to be careful on what i download…
    isn’t there another way

  4. Frenchy said on December 9, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    “””One freeware that is able to do this is Media Info.”””

    Thanks you I didn’t know this software which is very userful.

    It’s even better than a ‘freeware’ it’s a Free Software (GPL licence) : freedom to redistribute it, Open Source (freedom to learn/improve the code), etc. :)

  5. chris said on December 8, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    to follow up kurts post… VLC is the best player on the net imo…. simple and plays nearly everything! plus you can stream over your network any media

  6. kurt wismer said on December 8, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    installing this or that codec is a little like playing russian roulette, especially considering the large number of codecs that are malware these days… you’re better off just finding a player that plays most any format you can think of natively (without installing a bunch of codecs) and treating anything it doesn’t play with suspicion…

  7. Max said on December 8, 2006 at 6:52 pm

    I’ve always been looking for something like this. Thanks!

  8. chris said on December 8, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    i prefer gspot but i guess it does the same

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.