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What's the best media player?


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.

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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:

  • If someone sends you a QuickTime or iTunes video (.mov, .m4p, etc.) then
    you’ll download and use QuickTime (which you’ll already have if you have

  • If someone sends you a Real media file (.rm, .ra, and more) then you’ll
    download and use Real Player.

  • If someone sends you a Windows Media file (.wma, .wmv, etc.) then you’ll
    download and use Windows Media Player, which you may also already have by
    virtue of having Windows.

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.

“My recommendation for the average user is the simple
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
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
actually legal.

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

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70 comments on “What's the best media player?”

  1. I like Quicktime, but I dont like how sometimes the program has a mind of its own on what it wants to play.

  2. Also use K-lite codecs pack, with mplayer (lite). You can access properties of a given media file and assign it to mplayer, real(alternative), quicktime(alternative, or VLC. Since M$ tends to make faulty bloatware one might forgo the usage of Win. Media Player or use an earlier version.

  3. why do some web pages give me a “plug -in illegal are strongly advice to close your browser” when i click on their video link.what IF i do not close my browser? what’s worst lies ahead? am i missing something?

  4. I agree with Volg – VLC is excellent, particularly for viewing movies with a dual-output video card – the controls remain on the primary monitor, while the video output can be viewed via a video projector connected to the secondary S-video output.

  5. Totally agree with those who vouch for VLC. Recently, i have this BIG headache of which media player is the best for my system. I’ve used K-Lite, Storm Codecs, Real, WinAmp, GOM Player, and the list goes on and on, until i met VLC. Yes, VLC. I throw to it just about anything, anything and VLC plays them all. I haven’t encounter any codec that it cant play and im still waiting. As for now, VLC is the King!! Period.

  6. i have had a real problem in the past playing my home videos taken with a samsung s730. most players go wobbly playing avi, but vlc is simple to download, easy to use and free. if you download sothink dvd converter, it will convert your home movies into dvd format that will play on any home dvd machine. and whats best of all is that it’s all free.

  7. It is ViPlay. So sadly it isn’t updated for a long time. And it has issues for Aero theme. Beside that here are some features that makes it a perfect player:

    -External and no edges video frame.
    -Simple playlist (the most important!)
    -Sticky edges (!!!!)
    -The perfectly designed OSD.
    -Display/change subtitles by just drag and drop on video frame on runtime. (notice: runtime is important)
    -Flexible vertical subtitle position by just drag and drop on runtime. (notice: runtime, runtime, runtime…)
    -Mouse features: one click pause/play, double click maximize/minimize video frame, wheel volume.
    -Keyboard features: left right arrow skip just 5 seconds. (the perfect timing to fast review of video. not annoying like media player, if you miss a word just left arrow and listen it no need to use mouse and wish to find the position).

    and many other like playing on desktop background, import any type of skin!!!(every type: wmp, winamp, etc)

    sadly the developers are lazy.

  8. The best is the VLC Media Player it recognizes basically ever media file out there. It can also adjust contrast lighting etc as your watching.

  9. Telling someone to install Real Audio should be a punishable offense. You’re basically asking people to voluntarily infect their systems with a virus-like application. The same is partially true for Quicktime for Windows.

    Foobar2000 is the best audio player.
    Media Player Classic is the best video player.

    This is not debatable.

    Take care.

  10. VLC’s UserInterface is not very good. It makes you mad just to change the settings. But it’s also able to play any formats without the need of any codecs.

  11. VLC has terrible latency issues, like skipping forward and getting that “choppy effect”, WMC is far superior if you dl the codecs you need but each to their own, different pcs, different needs.

  12. Jetaudio is the best plays everything
    video (wmv,asf,rm,QT,divx)
    audio (wma,mp3,mp3pro,etc)

    has full suround BBE etc

  13. I found out about KMPlayer lately and i am impressed. It lacks Help option though. Pressing F1 will direct you to its home page in the web. That’s the down-side of it. But I love it! I could adjust the video settings and change the aspect ratio. No other free media player players can do that. I even had it reconfigured to become portable and play real media & quicktime. VLC can’t play real media anyway. It has got plenty of downloadable skins for free, the software is free anyways.

  14. hey guys… see VLC Media player that plays ANYTHING!!!!… yes!! it plays almost any audio and video files that i have seen so far!!

  15. MPlayer or mplayer frontends like SMPlayer 0.5.62 -works on both Windows and Linux ,one of the better media players. Played everything i tried on it. Nice interface, easy to use.also media player classic+ CCCP codec pack is also good.Media Player Classic and GomPlayer were, IMO, at the top. However both had issues handling subtitles in movies, resulting in frame skips occasionally. SMPlayer has not had this problem .

  16. I think thatthe best player is “Dziobas RAR Player”. it plays every kind of file (audio and video).
    If you have a video compressed file like RAR file you don’t have to extract it, just open it with “Dziobas RAR Player” and it will play the video. And you can ajust the aspect ratio so you can anjoy watching full screen video.For me it is THE Best Player ever.
    Play dvd, mvk, avi, mpge, ogg, rar(forward), password rar (no forward)
    Play all files without codecs. Play rar files without extracting.
    Play AVI, MPGE, RMVB, OGG, MP3, RAR, MKV, MKA and some not popular
    Subtitles support
    Automatic download subtitles form using hash.
    Image grabber function(generate thumnails)
    More filters.

  17. i think “Dziobas RAR” Player caught my eyes, its works like magic. =) hahah i use Media Player classic before.. and thanks to this =) i found Dziobas RAR Player

  18. strange none of you mentioned the jet audio player at all. Mostly VLC or real or quicktime. I have used jet audio since its inception some years back and i found it to be the best player out there bar none. It has plug ins for quicktime winamp real and windows. It also has file associations for all players that i mentioned. Including matroska which seems to be the best codec going for players to use. If anyone has not seen this player go to Cowan america and get it for free. You get the basic but not all the features, like burning and such but….for what it makes up for is real excellent viewing movies or listening to songs of your favorite flavor. Most pro players will always need money for the extras, but who cares?. Ill stick with jet audio, as for VLC its fine to a point, the only thing jet cannot play is BIN or CUE files thats what vlc is for. Not even windows or real comes close to jet in any way. And it does NOT hog resource power thats what real and windows players do. So go get jet audio, you will not be disappointed.

  19. I love MediaMonkey for my audio. It’s intended to be used with large collections like mine which is around 35GB with over 100 discographies. For Vids I use VLC but I hate the fact it doesn’t save your place.

  20. Nothing bits ALLPlayer and automatic sub downloader + Coverflow made out of downloaded covers.. LiveUpdate scans PC and let you get latest codecs..

  21. WMP rox, bar none. It’s the king of queens! And I’m not just saying that because they pay, I’m saying it because I find it funny that average people can talk like they’re upselling magazines. So yeah, Windows Media Player, own it. BEFORE it OWNS YOU!!!!

  22. WMP can’t play stand-alone VOB files. Media player classic does not have repeat A-B function. Jet audio can’t play audio in some vob files. KM player freezes if you first-forward too often. The best trouble-free with all the lovable features is NERO SHOW TIME, take it or leave it.

  23. Really BAD recomendation, specially for average users, that dont know how to deal with codecs, an issues between them. The best for an average user will be download VLC media player. Just install it and thats it, you can play almost all the formats for audio and video. And your computer will thank you, because when you install all the players for each codec, this will make your computer slower, beacuase it will load a lot of crap when you start it.

  24. For the sheer amount of things it can do, VLC is great; especially for playing video over networks. I don’t use it personally because the interface sucks and it has some nasty latency issues (especially with anime encoded in MKVs for me). K-Lite is alright…if you don’t mind installing the 9/10s worth of bloatware that comes with it. I suppose if you’re a developer it’s a goldmine of codecs, but I’m just a guy wanting to watch movies and anime on his computer. CCCP works just fine and I’m finding it’s simpler to correlate it with MPC without issue than K-Lite and it’s barrage of weak players.

  25. Yes I have read this article and all tha users except the above one are really average.They don’t know anything.I know that VLC is the best but you can also use Power DVD or Super DVD player.SuPER DVD player supports all the formats except AVI and FLV.VLC just closes while playing FLV.And some rare formats are not suppoted by VLC Too.So a combination of real,quicktime,VLC and Power DVD will enable us to play any format onn our computer.I don’t know about moovida.I have all the four players so there is no format that my computer cannot play.But if moovida really supports all the formats and codecs I recommend to use that midia player only.
    Thanks for reading.

  26. I tried moovida, and I really hated it, it’s not following the usual logic of softwares, and is not intuitive at all. For example, almost every player goes and leaves full screen with a double click, not moovida. I was able to leave full screen only with ESC, and then I wasn’t able to turn back to full screen. No right click menu, etc.
    Why to do that ? Every developper knows that it’s a bad idea not to follow the standard rules, unless your program is totally intuitive. Almost nobody will lose time trying to understand your logic if he’s not forced. Human beeings are lazy.

    Personally, I only use smplayer and VLC, and no codec pack. There is nothing I can’t play.
    The one I prefer is smplayer, when I play a movie, it’s usually using less than 1% CPU !

    And for the music I use AIMP 2, which has an excellent tag editor and a beautiful sound.

  27. If you want a media player, VLC is the best. You might need to complement VLC with a proprietary player for DRM content though.

    If you want a media center check out XBMC and Moovida (I actually work for the company that makes Moovida, thus I might be a bit biased, but you can try it for free ;).


  28. An average user will download VLC media player generally and would be happy with it. But for sure its interface is not so energetic and compelling. K-lite is also a good option with many codecs involved.

  29. i think the vlc is a little not user friendly, because when i want to move the subtitles to outside of a movie, to the black area that you have in a widescreen lcd i just cant move them with my mouse. i need to go to options preferences and give it a number and get my feedback if its ok with that number or should i give a lower or higher one.

    and i cant just drag and drop a subtitle on vlc while im watching a movie, it ruins it out. im turkish so i watch with turkish subtitles and if i see they translated it wrong i just switch to english subtitles. but i need to reopen the video in vlc player for that.

    if vlc was more user friendly it would be the best video player that i came across but it makes me mad that i need to struggle with little things that i can make with my mouse drag and drops at my other player.

    and i only use vlc player when i play my online game as my normal video player has an issue when im on game it doesnt show anything, so i have to use vlc those times. as i mentioned vlc is good but not the best.

    im using mv2player with k lite codec pack and i disabled its matroska, real time and quick time alternatives as i download their latest version manually.

  30. I prefer the KM player…Though VLC is great, the user interface and the controls are not that easy to use and the fast forward really gives me a pain, with the video occasionally stopping or showing funny colours…and the Real player is horrible!!!! no proper controls and an even more stupid GUI.KM player has a really cool interface and absurdly simple keyboard controls and it can play almost all formats, except the real media files….I would suggest trying it out…..

  31. Actually its difficult to pick the best media player. As you are saying, codecs does the actual work. But Jet Audio is the best options at present. I am not saying its Da Best. But i am using it from last 5-6 yrs. I can play every format available, an FLV too. I must say you should try it once. Again i am not advertising this, but i found Jet Audio better over WMP, VLC, Sonic, Winamp etc. I have used each of them, just give a try with that.

  32. I would just like to say,i am 58 and recently purchased my first computer.I just want to use the computer for basic usage,at the moment,i want to download movies into win media centre,i download and they just go missing.Ive tried the help on here,but,like all of them,im lost in the jargon.Have pity for people like me,im sure im not alone,especially among the older of us,who really only have the computer to keep in disabled,live alone,without the computer i would have gone stir crazy!!!Great site,great reading,i only wish i understood it!!!

  33. I also think Kmplayer is the best, though vlc is a good alternative ^^. There are some reasons why I prefer Kmplayer. The first one is that I hate to install codecs pack. they only slow down my computer and most of the time you only use some of the codecs that are available in the pack; kmplayer comes with interncl codecs and you just need to install real media and quicktime codecs(I suggest the alternative ones). The Second one is that we have more options in kmplayer than vlc to improve the appearance and also to customize it, such as hotkeys, transparency, etc. The third one is that I can use it as my default tv and camcorder player. it also has the option to record from your tv tuner, but I’ve never tried it. Well, I suppose the only thing that this player lacks of is the network options that vlc offers. By the way, kmplayer works really well in windows 7 (don’t forget to install visualc++ 2005).

  34. Smplayer, intuitive GUI and easy keyboard navigation. VLC is a close second. XBOX Media Center [XBMC] is a high power version of (S)mplayer. Hands down the best media player available.

  35. “ view attachments with videos” The KMPlayer is the best! i’v tried vlc, gom, bsplayer, mpc and a lot more. you can play any video (and even audio) file format with the kmplayer: you name it. what’s good with it is that it can even play partially downloaded files! so for your attachments; you could view the file already without waiting to complete the download. and for damaged video files if the damage were not really significant, the kmplayer will play the file. it is customizable and you can customize almost everything! from keyboard shortcuts, mouse clicks, skins, playlist, hardware controls, software controls – you name it. i once loved vlc but my anime-freak friends introduced me to the kmplayer and so i converted..
    for music player foobar2000 is nice. it has asio and kernel streaming: the audio will get directly to your soundcard without a lot of software processing. it’s like eddie vedder is singing right inside your ear.

  36. The above Player which was discussed its very good. However, some player which discussed doesn’t match to play the the files from tube site after downloading but its pretty okay to use.

    I have found a new launched player which we could download, save and watch any movie from tube site. If you guys want to check it how is it, better try once and any feedback on this said player will be very appreciate. If you want to download and see, its totally free. Just go to this link and try once

  37. VLC does play everything but the interface is limited. I prefer Zoom player for its ability to toggle skip times through the scroll wheel. Makes it very easy to skip forward and backwards. Almost every function on the player is configurable (select what menus/buttons display, adjust seek/rewind time, etc.).

  38. VLC has been the best free video player arround the past few years!! just drag and drop and plays anything, also compresed files (zip), unbelievable

  39. The new PowerDVD Ultra 3D version 10 combined with Windows 7 Codecs by SHARK007 is fantastic and the best of the best. You can play any kind of video including MKV. You can play DVD and Blu-ray and in 3D. It’s built in library hooks right into your Windows directory where you keep your media so there’s no need to build a library, and its in thumbnail as well as detail view. The videos look stunning. Ten Stars!!

  40. But Vlc doesnt work really good with Windows 7 home premium-64 bit

    Actually it’s working fairly well on two Win7 64bit machines for me.


  41. VLC, SMPlayer are the best for all-purpose. No need for extra codecs, they work perfectly on ALL versions of windows. Windows Media Player is good in Windows 7 but does take some manipulating to play mkv. The other versions of WMP suck.

    For beginners, try VLC and SMPlayer. Theyll play anything you throw at em. VLC will even play incomplete or broken video files. And SMPlayer remembers where you left off in a movie. So if you get interupted and have to shut down your machine, the next time you turn it on and hit play, it pick up where you left off. It will also seek and find subtitles for you within the interface. With both players, no need for downloading other bloated players like Real and QuickTime or dangerous codec packs(though sharks codec packs are very safe and will give you playback of almost anything in any version of WMP).

    I believe the only thing VLC won’t play is Real Media. But that format is less and less prevalent by the day.

  42. BSPlayer (free except for pro version) for video and SongBird (free open source for audio). I like the configuration options for BSPlayer. Hotkeys allow skipping ahead/back by user defined time intervals. Also, other keys allow advancing/retarding the audio timing to correct synch issues. Songbird used to have response issues but these has been corrected in a recent update.

  43. DO NOT put quick time on a PC its a venerability, consider your selves warned. Real player is bloatware and why use up all your time and effort with all the drama.

    If you have an ipod use winamp because you can easily manage your music without having to completely re-sync

    My recommendation to you is a simple download and use the recommended settings on the Klite mega codec pack.

    here is the download page

    And this is what it offers
    Contents of K-Lite Mega Codec Pack

    Below you can find a list of all components that are included in the pack. Please note that not all of these components will be installed. There are some groups of two (or more) components that share a similar purpose. During installation at most one component from each group can be selected. So for example, at most one MPEG-2 decoder can be installed. Furthermore, some of the included components are not needed by the average user, and therefore they will not by installed by default. The installer is fully customizable, so you can let it install exactly those components that suit your specific needs.

    Contents of version 6.1.0:


    * Media Player Classic Homecinema [version 1.3.2086.0]
    * Media Player Classic Homecinema [version 1.2.1008.0]
    * Media Player Classic [version rev. 107]


    * ffdshow [revision 3487]
    * ffdshow VFW interface

    DirectShow video decoding filters:

    * XviD [version 1.2.2]
    * DivX [version 6.9.3]
    * DivX H.264 [version 1.2.1 build]
    * On2 VP7 [version]
    * WebM VP8 [version]
    * MPEG-2 (Cyberlink) [version]
    * MPEG-2 (Gabest) [version]

    DirectShow audio decoding filters:

    * AC3/DTS/LPCM (AC3Filter) [version 1.63b]
    * Vorbis (CoreVorbis) [version]
    * AAC (MONOGRAM) [version]

    DirectShow audio parsers:

    * FLAC (madFLAC) [version 1.8]
    * WavPack (CoreWavPack) [version 1.1.1]
    * MusePack (MONOGRAM) [version |]
    * Monkey’s Audio (DCoder) [version 1.0]
    * OptimFROG (RadLight) [version]
    * AMR (MONOGRAM) [version]
    * DC-Bass Source [version 1.2.0]
    * AC3/DTS Source (AC3File) [version 0.7b]

    DirectShow source filters:

    * Haali Media Splitter [version]
    * AVI splitter (Gabest) [version 1.3.2076.0]
    * MP4 splitter (Gabest) [version 1.3.2076.0]
    * Matroska splitter (Gabest) [version 1.3.2076.0]
    * Ogg splitter (Gabest) [version 1.3.2076.0]
    * MPEG PS/TS splitter (Gabest) [version 1.3.2076.0]
    * FLV splitter (Gabest) [version 1.3.2076.0]
    * CDXA Reader (Gabest) [version 1.3.2076.0]

    DirectShow subtitle filter:

    * DirectVobSub (a.k.a. VSFilter) [version]
    * DirectVobSub (a.k.a. VSFilter) [version 2.33]

    Other filters:

    * Haali Video Renderer [version]

    VFW video codecs:

    * XviD [version 1.2.2]
    * DivX [version 6.9.2]
    * x264 [revision 1659]
    * On2 VP6 [version]
    * On2 VP7 [version]
    * Intel Indeo 4 [version]
    * Intel Indeo 5 [version 5.2562.15.54]
    * Intel I.263 [version]
    * huffyuv [version 2.1.1 CCE Patch 0.2.5]
    * DivX [version 3.11]
    * YV12 (Helix) [version 1.2]

    ACM audio codecs:

    * MP3 (Fraunhofer) [version]
    * MP3 (LAME) [version 3.98.2]
    * AC3ACM [version 1.5]
    * Vorbis [version]
    * DivX WMA [version]

    Real Alternative:

    * RealMedia codecs [version]
    * RealMedia plugin for Internet Explorer
    * RealMedia plugin for Firefox/Mozilla/Netscape/Opera/Chrome
    * RealMedia DirectShow splitter [version 1.3.1967.0]


    * Codec Tweak Tool [version 4.4.4]
    * Win7DSFilterTweaker [version 3.2]
    * MediaInfo Lite [version 0.7.33]
    * GSpot Codec Information Appliance [version 2.70a]
    * VobSubStrip [version 0.11]
    * GraphStudio [version]
    * Haali Muxer
    * FourCC Changer
    * Bitrate Calculator

  44. Ever heard of the KMplayer (not the kmplayer of linux). This player is for windows. It has a huge range of options. Its the all in one player. It plays flv, rmvb, ram, rm, wmv(which vlc sometimes fails), mkv(vlc fails sometimes), ogg, ogm, and every other format out there. You can even book mark a part of the video instead of the entire video. How cool is that? It also has an in built online subtitle finder if when configured proper is very helpful. The decoders are not registered in the system registry, and all setting option are stored in a seperate file.It is the best for subtitle handling(way better than vlc-any version). Last but not least, the video quality, its unbeatable. You can change every aspect of the video to your will. A very versatile player. Definitely a must.

  45. I used to find The KMPlayer the best of the pack (yeah, WMP, RealPlayer, Real Alternative, Quicktime are simply no comparsion). Its sound is especially rich and authentic, its interface intuitive, very friendly, and extremely convenient.

    But now, I discover one that is even better: XMP (Xunlei Media Player)! It is as versatile and user-friendly as KMP, but at the same time much better than the latter when it comes to media that are critically resource-demanding, like HD videos, mtc, mkv files etc. It is especially true when your system resources are in the tight.

    The major shortcoming — and it is a “big” one — is that it comes in a Chinese interface, becos it is developed in China. So, if you happen to know Chinese, XMP is highly recommended. You need to try it to believe!

  46. Interesting debate here. The very first media player i started using was VLC. Used it for around 2 years. Had problems with frame rate and stuff. Then i switched to MPC. The interface was pretty boring after using it for a couple of days. Then i found KMPlayer and thought it would be my default media player like forever. But the updates came crawling after 2010. Then i found an article at Gizmo’s Freeware Reviews for Best Free Media Player…eplacement.htm that rates PotPlayer as the best pick and tried it and now am absolutely in love with it.
    It was developed by KMPlayer creater after he sold KMP.


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