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 into a format it won't play or run an older version of Windows, you probably need to install the correct codec on your computer. There's a mind-boggling array of different audio and video formats in use today, so installing a media codec pack is the most sensible solution. These packs save the time you would spend hunting on the internet for one particular codec.

Whether you use Windows Media Player, Winamp, Media Player Classic, or another audiovisual program, having the right set of codecs installed on your system is vital if you need to play a wide range of different file formats.

This list of media codec packs showcases some of the best free collections for Windows. If you are a Mac user, VLC Media Player for OS X is worth a look. It can handle most formats out of the box.

K-Lite Codec Pack

What We Like
  • Frequently updated.

  • Includes most codecs the average user would ever 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, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP is a popular codec compilation for good reasons. 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 only the bare minimum to save space on your hard drive.
  • K-lite Codec Pack Standard: The Standard pack is the best option for most average 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 you might need. 
  • 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 gives your version of Windows good support for almost all the video and audio files you download.

Just like some of the other codec packs available to download, 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.