The Best Codec Packs for Playing Audio and Video

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

Windows 10 can play most digital music files and videos. However, if you have an older version of Windows or want to play an obscure file format, you may need to install the correct codec. There's an array of audio and video formats, so installing a media codec pack is a 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 use a Mac, consider downloading VLC Media Player for OS X, as it can handle most formats out of the box.

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K-Lite Codec Pack

The K-Lite homepage.
What We Like
  • Frequently updated.

  • Includes most codecs average users will need.

What We Don't Like
  • Can be complicated to set up.

  • No help file or documentation for utilities.

The K-Lite Codec Pack (which is compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and XP) is a popular codec pack for a 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. These 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.
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X Codec Pack

The X Codec Pack homepage.
What We Like
  • Online forum for feedback and discussions.

  • Has multilanguage support.

What We Don't Like
  • No official support for Windows 10.

  • Reported issues with captions.

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

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.

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Media Player Codec Pack

The Media Player Codec Pack homepage.
What We Like
  • Has both 32-and 64-bit versions.

  • Compatible with most versions of WMP.

What We Don't Like
  • Installation includes other undesired software.

  • May have to change some file associations manually in Windows 10.

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. In addition, 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.

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