March 31, 2015 I’m having trouble trying to play videos


Windows Media Player reports, “Cannot play the filetype…”

Windows Media Player is probably one of the worst video players ever made – and with every release of Windows, it seems to get worse still! Due to complicated licensing arrangements and trying to “please everybody”, Microsoft seem to have stymied themselves.

It’s possible to download and install plugins (some are paid) to make Windows Media Player “better”, but it’s far easier to install a new program that simply does it all “out of the box”.

The free, excellent, reliable, fast, small and simple VLC is what you really need. Download it here:

When installing, associate all video files with it (particularly MP4), so it’s the default program to open videos. Then, double-clicking on a video file on your computer will Just Work!

Stuttering, jerky playback

If Streaming: The internet connection between our servers and yourself is not fast enough.

  • Try streaming a lower quality
  • Try letting the video “buffer” – click play, then pause, and watch the grey bar advance. When it has advanced to about 50%, click play again.
  • Try streaming later – internet speeds can fluctuate (more details can be found on this FAQ page: How come it’s slow to download from your site?)
  • It may be that your internet connection can never support streaming videos. You will need to download videos instead.

If Download: There’s a problem with your computer.

  • MP4 videos require a lot of computing power (CPU) to “decode” and play back, compared to other formats. Try downloading a lower quality MP4, as smaller files require less CPU to decode.
  • It’s possible (but unlikely), you have something else running on your computer using a lot of CPU power – stop that and try playing the videos again
  • WMV videos also require computing power to decode, though much less than MP4
  • MPG videos require the least computing power to play back, and so will almost definitely work (but the file size is larger, and the quality lower)
  • It’s possible the playback software is not doing a good job. We use and recommend the free, safe, easy, reliable and amazing VLC.
  • Your video card may be mis-configured, or not have drivers installed. Download and install the latest drivers from the manufacturer

Audio plays back but with no video, just a black screen

If Download:

  • The playback software does not support the video codec (the way the video has been prepared by us). Download and install VLC or choose a different video file type (MPG, WMV). If you are using VLC, it may be a very old version – download the new version to upgrade.
  • This also occurs when using some laptops with an external monitor connected, video will not play back on the attached monitor. Closing VLC and restarting it on the other monitor, then dragging the video in to it may work, but it also may not. Upgrading your display drivers may resolve this, or it may just be a limitation of your laptop.

No audio on playback

If Streaming:

  • Make sure the volume adjustment on the player is not too low, and not muted (speaker icon with a line through it)
  • Check the volume control on your computer
  • Check if other things on your computer make a sound
  • Check if other videos play back with audio

If Download:

  • Check the volume control on your computer
  • Check if other things on your computer make a sound
  • Check if other AW videos play back