What Is an AVI File?

How to play and convert AVI videos

What to Know

  • An AVI file is an Audio Video Interleave file.
  • Open one with VLC or ALLPlayer.
  • Convert to MP4, MOV, GIF, etc. with FileZigZag.

This article explains what an AVI file is, how to open one on any device, and how to convert one to MP4, MP3, GIF, and other formats so that it will open with your programs.

What Is an AVI File?

Short for Audio Video Interleave, a file with the AVI file extension is a commonly used file format developed by Microsoft for storing both video and audio data in a single file.

The format is based on the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF), a container format used to store multimedia data.

This format is typically less compressed than other, more popular ones like MOV and MPEG, meaning that the video will be larger than the same file in one of those more compressed formats.

AVI files.

How to Play an AVI File

You might have trouble opening AVI files because they can be encoded with a variety of video and audio codecs. One AVI file may play just fine, but another might not because they can only be played if the right codecs are installed.

Windows Media Player is included in most versions of Windows and should be able to play most AVI files by default. If not, install the free K-Lite Codec pack.

VLC, ALLPlayer, Kodi, and DivX Player are some other free AVI players you can try out if WMP isn't working for you. If you're on a phone or tablet, try VLC's mobile app.

Most web-based storage services will also play this format when stored there. Google Drive is one of many examples.

Some simple video editors that work with this format include Avidemux, VirtualDub, Movie Maker, and Wax.

Unlike MP4 and MKV videos, AVI files can't contain subtitles. To use captions with an AVI file, the subtitles must be in a separate file or hardcoded into the video stream.

How to Convert an AVI File

Sometimes you can convert a file by just opening it in a viewer (like one of the programs from above) and then saving it to another format, but this probably isn't the case with most AVI players.

Instead, the easiest and most effective conversion method is a free video file converter. One of our favorites, Any Video Converter, saves AVI to MP4, FLV, WMV, and a number of other formats.

Another option, if the file is pretty small, is to use an online converter like Zamzar, FileZigZag, Online-Convert.com. After uploading the file there, you can convert it to a variety of formats like 3GP, WEBM, MOV, or MKV, including audio formats (MP3, AAC, M4A, WAV, etc.).

If there's a specific file type you need to convert your video to that you don't see listed above in our examples, click through to those online converter websites to find a list of formats you can convert the file to. For example, if you're using FileZigZag, visit their Conversion Types page to see a full list of supported formats.

Still Can't Open It?

If your file isn't opening with the programs mentioned above, you might have misread the file extension, meaning you're technically trying to open something else entirely.

For example, while the file's extension may look like ".AVI," it could really be an AV, AVS (Avid Project Preferences), AVB (Avid Bin), or AVE file.

It's important to use a program that's compatible with your file format, or you'll see errors and will have problems using the file normally.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you play AVI files on Macs? You can download and install a media player that has the capability of playing AVI files. For example, VLC media player is a free, open-source player compatible with Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later.
  • How can I play AVI files on my Android phone? Since the system media player on Android does not support AVI format files, you will need to download and install a third-party video player. Some examples include VLC for Android and Video Player All Format - XPlayer.
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