AVI files are one of the most commonly found media formats in use today, offering a broad range of compatibility and good balance between file size and media quality. They can be video files or even audio only, and the compatibility and popularity mean that there are many options when it comes to playing AVI video files. One thing to watch out for is that AVI video files can actually use different codecs. This is not an issue as such, although for a lot of players this requires the correct codec to be installed on the device, which can lead to frustration, as one AVI video may play fine, but another one, using a different codec, will not, instead requiring a download and install of a codec for it to function.
If you have any other compatibility problems with your media files and devices, you can refer to here for further solutions and suggestions.
Step 1: Method 1: VLC Player
Arguably the most popular, but certainly the easiest way to play AVI format video files is to use an application called VLC Player by Videolan. This is an entirely free piece of software that is also completely open source, making it both economical and adaptable.
However, that is not the real attraction for VLC player, what makes it so great is that it can play more or less any video file at all, and all kinds of AVI files in particular, right out of the box. It does not require extra codecs to be added, it simply works.
Using VLC player is simple too, simply go to the videolan website, head to the download page and grab the latest version, it is available on almost every platform imaginable, so whether it is for your PC, Mac, Android or Apple mobile device, or even the various forms of Linux, there is a version just for you.
Once you have the install file, simply install as per the standard platform procedure, and then navigate to the AVI file you wish to play, double click it and it will play.
You can adjust the sound through a built in
equalizer, and even adjust sound sync if your file has some audio problems, take snapshots of the video, speed it up and slow it down and adjust the various video qualities such as brightness and color, in short, it is the complete package for viewing AVI video files.
Step 2: Method 2: K-Lite Codec
If you prefer to use the built in player for your platform for some reason, there is a way to ensure that the vast majority of files will play just fine, and this is by installing codecs. However, rather than install new codecs for each file you try and play, a more efficient, and much faster, solution is to install what is known as a codec pack.
This is a pack of the most commonly used codecs all combined into a single installer, once on your computer, the video player of your choice will access the appropriate one for each video you ask it to play.
There are several codec packs available, however K-Lite is the most comprehensive one that you will find and also one of the best supported, and kept up to date more than others so you can be sure your download includes the latest versions of any codec.
To use it, you can simply download it from the above link, and then install it in the usual manner. The installer does offer several modes, simple, advanced and expert, which present different levels of customization to the install, although sticking with the defaults will provide everything the majority will need. Once installed it will integrate with your operating system, and once accomplished, you can then simply open your AVI video files in your favorite media player and the operating system will select the appropriate codec for you behind the scenes.
Some people do not like this method do to the perceived clutter of extra codecs, however for convenience it is only behind the VLC player and represents a good way to watch the AVI videos you want using the software you prefer.
Step 3: Method 3: FFDshow
The other way to ensure you can watch the majority of your AVI video files without installing a lot of codecs is to take the route of installing just the one. FFDShow is a codec that will allow you to play about 95% of all AVI files you may encounter, as it is by far the most common compression algorithm with many codecs based upon it.
By downloading it from the link, and then following the usual install routine, it works in a similar way to the codec packs, without the extra codecs of course. So once installed, to watch the AVI video of your choice you just open it in your favorite media player and the operating system automatically accesses FFDShow to enable playback in the player.
Whilst it is not 100% effective in opening every file you may ever need it to, the vast majority of AVI videos will work just fine with this, and because it is such a nice clean and small install does not present the clutter that some people do not like with the codec pack route.
Step 4: Conclusion
Overall, if changing the media player itself is not an issue, the VLC player presents the most streamlined and effective way of watching AVI files, however, for those that prefer to stick with different software, the two choices presented here represent different paths to a similar outcome, and the one chosen is really down to personal taste.
Have any other questions? Go to this column of media compatibility solutions for PRO suggestions.