What is the best media player to download to view attachments with videos,
Real? Quicktime? Windows media?
How about all of the above?
The problem is that as the recipient you don’t have a whole lot of choice.
It’s the sender that determines the format that they send you, and you’ll just
have to have a player that understands it.
And not all players understand all formats.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Sadly, the world of video in particular is a confusing mess of formats and
options. If all you’re trying to do is view a video that someone else has
provided, it’s complex enough. Heaven help you if you want to try and produce a
For playback, to keep things the simplest:
Like I said, that’s the simple path. While it results in three different
media players on your machine, it usually works.
But recall that I said it’s a complicated mess.
What’s really happening for most media players is that they don’t understand
anything at all, in and of themselves. They rely on “codecs” (coder/decoders)
that are installed on the system to actually understand the various media
So naturally when you install the Real player, it also installs codecs that
understand Real formatted files. Similarly when you install QuickTime, it
installs codecs for QuickTime formatted files.
It’s even possible that, after installing various media players you may find
that some can actually play the formats of another.
one: install each player as you need it.”
There are some alternatives.
One of the classic alternatives is Media
Player Classic. Designed to look like an older version of Windows Media
player, you can set it up to play all three. That, of course, is best done by
installing the separate applications anyway, after which their codecs become
available to Media Player Classic.
But at least you can use a simple and consistent user interface regardless
of which format you’re viewing.
For codecs there are both Real
Alternative and QuickTime Alternative which
provide codecs that can add Real media and QuickTime support to other players
without having to download the “official” versions of those applications. This
is a common way to add Real and Quicktime support to Media Player Classic, for
There are two issues with Real and Quicktime Alternatives: typically they’re
not quite as full featured as the originals and it’s not clear whether they’re
My recommendation for the average user is the simple one: install each
player as you need it. (My personal preference is to then immediately
disable the start-up programs that each of these programs adds. Those add no
value, in my opinion.)
If you’d like a single user interface to handle all formats once the various
official players are installed, then download Media Player Classic to act as a