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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files Apps
I'm used to being able to play almost any video on my mac with either VLC or mplayer, so when I came across an AVI file that refused to play in any player I became rather frustrated.

Using VLC, I right-clicked on the filename in the playlist, chose Properties from the pop-up menu, and discovered that the video was actually a WMV9 (FourCC code "WMV3") file. Attempts to extract the video directly into a .WMV file and play it in Windows Media Player (WMP) failed miserably, because WMP requires the files to be perfectly formatted.

So I came up with this workaround:
  1. Open up VLC and make sure there's nothing in the playlist.
  2. Press the Play button, click Browse, and select the troublesome video file.
  3. Click the checkbox that says 'Advanced output' and press the Settings button.
  4. In the sheet that comes down, make sure that the 'Play locally' checkbox is unchecked, select the Stream radio button, and choose MMSH from the pop-up list. Make note of the port number (1234 by default, I think).
  5. Make sure that the Encapsulation Method is set to ASF and press the OK button. Press OK on the previous window as well.
  6. Double-click on the file which should now be in the playlist (or just press the Play button). You should not see the file playing.
Now open up WMP and select File: Open URL (or press command-U). Paste this into the dialogue box: The 1234 bit should match whatever you set in VLC; 1234 is the default. You should now be able to see the video. However, when I tried this, I did not get any audio; read on for the solution to that problem.

Here's how I managed to get sound output from the troublesome movie:
  1. Download and install D-Vision, a great video utility.
  2. Click the image in the top-right (above Tools) and select 'Re-encoding avi/mpg.'
  3. Drag your video into the holding bin and click on the Copy/Extract tab.
  4. Where it says 'Extraction of audio track,' click the Settings button, set to your liking (the default is fine), and click the Create Task button. It should appear in the Task Management window. Click the Launch button and go get something to eat...
Once the audio has been extracted, you can open it up in an MP3 player like QuickTime and match it to the video. In my tests, the audio lagged the video by three seconds.

Yes, I know this is a very, very dirty hack, but it works. If you ever find yourself stuck without a PC and an unwatchable WMV file (disguised as an AVI or not), you'll know what to do.
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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: Egrefen on Jan 09, '06 07:56:30AM

I admire the elaborate nature of your work around. However it sounds like I'd spend less time picking up my laptop, rebooting in target disk mode, and driving it to a friend's house who's likely to have the right codec ^-^

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: oliverchaddock on Jan 09, '06 08:13:19AM

But AFAIK the windows media 9 codec isn't available at all on the mac. Or am i mistaken?

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: diamondsw on Jan 09, '06 08:49:54AM

Correct - there is no way to play a WMV9 (fourcc WMV3) stream that is inside an AVI container on a Mac. I've got a few dozen of the damn things (anime fansubs) that are unplayable. So far I've been transcoding them on a PC, but the results are usually choppy and pixelated... :(

This hack is sadly the closest I've seen to being able to view it on the Mac, although the sound sync would drive me nuts.

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: aegisdesign on Jan 09, '06 08:25:16AM

Seems like a lot more bother than downloading the flip4mac WMV codec and using Quicktime.

$9.99 after the trial period.

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: aalegado on Jan 09, '06 08:47:01AM

That's not a panacea. I use flip4mac and have many AVI files that will not work. For what it's worth. many of these same AVI's don't work in Window Media Player 9 (on my PC) either.

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: darth on Jan 09, '06 12:03:20PM

Uh, are you sure that program will play FourCC WMV3 files embedded in .AVI containers? A brief google search seems to indicate not.

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: gunnmjk on Jan 09, '06 05:26:22PM

when using Flip4Mac, I have no problems playing any wmv file inside of Quicktime.

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: splig on Jan 10, '06 01:09:06AM

My experience is different. Many of the newer files do not play with this or WMV Mac

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: gregraven on Jan 09, '06 08:47:55AM

I received a WMV file that wouldn't play, so I uploaded it to Google Video, waited a day or so for it to become available, and then was able to watch it just fine.

Greg Raven
Apple Valley, CA

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: atshoom on Jan 09, '06 11:32:39AM

Xcellent ! that's the real hint.

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: Harold on Jan 10, '06 01:12:43AM

Agreed, never would have thought of it and such a simple solution as well.


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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: sfto on Jan 09, '06 08:55:14AM

this tool enables you to play wmv3+mp3 in avi.

1. dl and launch
2. open avi file and press start.
3. open localhost.asx by WMP in same folder.

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: vonleigh on Jan 10, '06 02:37:19AM

Looks like an interesting tool. Doesn't run on Tiger for me however (10.4.3). I'm guessing the last java update broke it. Hopefully the author will update it.

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It might also help to send word back up...
Authored by: macslut on Jan 09, '06 08:58:42AM

It might also help to send word back up the food chain that Windows Media files suck big time and the producers might want to consider a more open or at least more cross-platform format.

I've found that the majority of bad choice video format files that I've received (as well as other file formats) are from people who are really clueless...they just used some crappy bundled app and clicked the "make video" button without any thought or learning whatsoever.

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It might also help to send word back up...
Authored by: thiefhunter on Jan 09, '06 03:33:21PM

What, in your opinion, is the best format for the widest viewership? That is: widest; not smartest.

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It might also help to send word back up...
Authored by: genericuser on Jan 11, '06 02:22:58PM

mpeg - same format as video cd (mp1 video, mp2 audio) - is the most widely supported video format in the world. Will play on just about any device that supports digital video playback.

Took me hours to work that one out

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A Previous, Related Discussion
Authored by: jguice on Jan 09, '06 09:38:09AM
Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: megoactionfigure on Jan 09, '06 05:00:51PM

That's alot of work to get one lousy WMV file to play, but some porn is worth it!

Great hint! Thanks!

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Don't play unplayable WMV files
Authored by: BeezelNut RaRa on Jan 10, '06 02:02:00AM

While Mac OS X has ushered in a new era of hassle-free computing, WMV files remain to remind us of the gains that have been made, and help us fondly recall a bygone era where simply playing a video or audio file required a research and development budget. Much as we all love a bit of nostalgia, it's worth keeping in mind that if a video can't be delivered in an open, industry standard format like Mpeg4, then the content is probably of similarly poor quality.

The quickest path to OS X contentment: don't try to play WMV files. What clip could ever be compelling enough to make it worth while!?! An ant swallowing a water buffalo, perhaps?

Other hard won tips:
1. Do not try ripping a WMV file
2. Do not try outputting to WMV
Some problems are not worth solving - or creating.

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: feyd on Jan 10, '06 08:28:37AM

Just as an aside, I found a website last week with many videos encoded like this. VLC reported that they were WMV so I simply changed the extension. The Icon changed to a WMP one and the file played just fine. YMMV.


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Flip4Mac is now free!
Authored by: wallybear on Jan 11, '06 10:41:42AM

After an agreement with M$, Flip4Mac WMV is now free...!

It's downloadable from the M$ site, following this link:

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Play unplayable AVI/WMV files
Authored by: ElliottB on Jan 26, '06 06:01:21PM

Ok I created an account just to say that if you want to play the sound just use VLC! Set it to supress further errors and it will play the sound, totally in sync with the Windows Media Player that is picking up the stream. Oh and to everyone who said flip4mac, last time I checked it couldnt handle WMV3 wrapped in AVI. But this does and works perfectly if a little brutally!

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Sorry, does NOT work
Authored by: germ on Feb 18, '06 03:04:53PM

I "see" the video playing, but it's garbage.

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Finally an easy solution
Authored by: e235 on Apr 10, '06 08:26:31PM

Thankfully these shenanigans should no longer be necessary.

The newest version of the Flip4Mac plugin ( here) should allow QuickTime to play most avi wmv's. I would recommend manually deleting all files from any previous f4m install - the uninstaller didn't do it for me... spotlight to the rescue.

Bear in mind that QuickTime can take a looong time to load these files, so it will undoubtedly seem to have hung. Be patient.

If some files still won't work, try using Cellulo, which uses the QuickTime engine (and thus can take advantage of the f4m wmv plugin), but seems to be able to play some files QuickTime cannot. In general, Cellulo seems to just do better with avi's. (It also gives you control over subtitles & aspect ratios without going into a preference pane!)

(The Cellulo site is down right now in solidarity protest with the French mac community regarding the heinous DADVSI bill. Get it from macupdate. For reference:

DADVSI aside, we live in exciting times for mac video interoperability.

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