If you’re using the media player that came with your operating system, you could do better. There are two alternatives in particular that would be a step up.
What is a media player?
A media player is a program that can read video files and play them on your screen. Popular video file formats include .avi, .mkv, and .flv. You have to have some kind of media player in order to watch movies or other offline video. Videos that are streamed online, such as Youtube videos or Netflix, do not generally require a media player.
Why can’t I keep my default media player?
You can. However, your default media player (Windows Media Player for Windows, QuickTime X for OSX) isn’t able to read all the video formats that other players can. Also, other media players generally have much improved performance.
What media player do I install?
The two I highly recommend are Media Player Classic Home Cinema (MPC-HC) and VLC Media Player (VLC). I personally use MPC-HC, but their is really nothing wrong with VLC, especially for the average user. MPC-HC generally supports more video formats than VLC, but does so with codec packs and not by default. Which player you use is more a matter of personal preference.
Unless, of course, you’re using OSX. Then, you need to install VLC, because MPC-HC is Windows-only.
How do I install MPC-HC?
There are two ways to install MPC-HC. The first is to download and run the installer straight from the official MPC-HC website. This is the bare installation, which is best for people that want to tweak performance settings as they like.
The second way to install this media player is by installing a codec package that contains MPC-HC. Two popular packs are the K-Lite Codec Pack and the Combined Community Codec Pack. These allow you to watch videos in many more formats than the standard MPC-HC, and they also alter the settings for better quality performance.
No matter which installation you choose, simply click the “download” button on the website, and run the installer. After the program installs, you’re done! You don’t need to open MPC-HC when you want to play a video. Just double-click on the file and MPC-HC will automatically open it for you.
How do I install VLC?
To install VLC, you have to download the installer from the official VLC website by clicking the “Download” button. Run the installer and wait for it to finish. Once it completes the installation, you’re done! As with MPC-HC, you don’t have to manually open VLC to play a video file. It will open automatically when you try to open a video file by double-clicking it.
Congratulations! You now have a faster, more efficient, and generally better media player. Every once in a while, you’ll want to check for updates from your choice in player.
Tip of the week: Never install two programs to do the same thing.