The Best Codec Packs for Playing Audio and Video

Play more audio and video file formats by installing a codec pack.

Woman at a computer with headphones on as she moves her music into Windows Media Player.

GI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Windows 10 can play most digital music files and videos, but if you run an older version of Windows or are trying to play an obscure file format, you may need to install the correct codec. There's a huge array of audio and video formats, so installing a media codec pack is the most sensible solution. Codec packs save time you would otherwise spend hunting for one particular codec.

This list of media codec packs showcases some of the best free collections available for Windows.

If you are a Mac user, consider downloading VLC Media Player for OS X, as it can handle most formats out of the box.

K-Lite Codec Pack

  • Frequently updated.

  • Includes most codecs average users will need.

  • Can be complicated to set up.

  • No help file or documentation for utilities.

The K-Lite Codec Pack, which is compatible with Windows 10, 8, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP is a popular codec pack for good reason. It has a user-friendly interface that makes installation easy, and it contains an impressive variety of codecs that are regularly updated.

There are four versions available to download for 32- and 64-bit computers, depending on your requirements. They are:

  • K-lite Codec Pack Basic: The Basic pack is a streamlined version that contains only the essential codecs, which is great when you want to save space on your hard drive.
  • K-lite Codec Pack Standard: The Standard pack is the best option for most users. It contains everything, similar to the Basic package, but with additional codecs for playing video formats.
  • K-Lite Codec Pack Full: Installing the Full pack gets you everything the Standard pack offers with additional support for specialized filters and tools. 
  • K-Lite Codec Pack Mega: The Megapack is the ultimate choice if you want it all. It includes tools for creating your own encoded audio and video files along with everything that the Full pack contains.

X Codec Pack

X Codec Pack is another full-featured compilation that provides your version of Windows with support for almost every audio or video file you can download.

Just like some of the other codec packs available, X Codec Pack also comes with the popular Media Player Classic application. Although the X Codec Pack isn't updated as regularly as other compilations, it still has an impressive collection of codecs, filters, and splitters for playing back a wide selection of media files. 

The current download supports Windows systems up to Windows 8.

Media Player Codec Pack

The Media Player Codec Pack is a good choice for casual and advanced users alike. It supports almost every compression and file type you're likely to find among most modern video and audio files. You can opt to use the "Easy Installation" or the "Expert Installation," which adds advanced settings for a high-end user. All resolutions are supported up through 4K.

Versions of the Media Player Codec Pack are available for Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, 2008, XP, 2003 and 2000.