Windows Media Player should play .AVI files by default, but a variety of factors from installing other media players to Windows updates can cause them not to play. Here we show you how to fix the problem. See also: How to convert videos to different formats

First, it’s worth pointing out that you can install the free VLC media player which will play virtually every type of video file on a PC. If you’re not bothered about using Windows Media Player, installing VLC is a good idea because it doesn’t require separate codec packs to be installed: it comes with everything you need to play AVI, MKV, MP4, WMV, MPEG-2 and more, and can also stream video from the web.

VLC Media Player

How to fix AVI playback in Windows Media Player

There are two fairly common reasons why AVI videos stop playing in Windows Media Player (WMP). First is that AVI files are no longer associated with WMP.
To fix this, open WMP and press Alt to show the menu. From the Tools menu choose Options…

In the window that opens, click the File Types tab (note that this doesn’t exist in WMP 12, only in previous versions). Check that Windows video file (.avi) is ticked and, if it isn’t, tick it and click OK.

Play AVI files Windows

Another thing to try is updating to the latest version of WMP. Within WMP, press Alt to show the menu if you can’t see it and choose Help, Check for updates… and follow the on-screen instructions.

Windows Media Player check for updates

If this still doesn’t fix the problem you can try installing the K-Lite Codec pack, which includes all the popular video codecs for playing a variety of video formats. Download the Basic pack from codecguide.com.