What Is a WMV File?

How to play or convert WMV files

What to Know

  • A WMV file is a Windows Media Video file.
  • Open one with VLC, or in Windows with the built-in video player.
  • Convert to MP4, MOV, GIF, etc., with Zamzar.com or Any Video Converter.

This article describes what WMV files are, including how to open one and how to convert one to a different video format.

What Is a WMV File?

A file with the WMV file extension is a Windows Media Video file, compressed with one or more of Microsoft's video compression formats. It's a common format used to store video in Windows, which is why some third-party programs use it for things like short animations.

Windows Media Audio files are similar, but only contain audio data, no video. These files use the WMA extension.

WMV Files

How to Play a WMV File

Most versions of Windows have Movies & TV or Windows Media Player installed, so these are the best solutions if you're using Windows. Since WMP stopped being developed for macOS after version 9, Mac users can use Flip4Mac, but it isn't free.

VLC, DivX Player, KMPlayer, and MPlayer are some alternatives that are completely free and run on both Mac and Windows, but there are many others. Elmedia Player is another WMV player for Macs.

How to Convert a WMV File

Using one of our recommended free video converter programs or online services is definitely the best way. Just download and install one, then load the file and choose to convert it to another video format like MP4, AVI, MKV, 3GP, FLV, etc. Any Video Converter is a great choice.

Online video converters like Zamzar work, too. Using an online converter has its benefits and disadvantages because while you don't have to download a program to do the conversion, you do have to upload the video to the website, which can take a long time if you're converting a large file.

More Information on WMV Files

WMV files use Microsoft's Advanced Systems Format (ASF) container format and are therefore very similar to ASF files, which is another file format developed by Microsoft.

However, WMV files can also be packed into the Matroska or AVI container format and therefore have the MKV or AVI file extension.

Still Can't Open It?

If your file isn't opening even after trying the programs recommended above, it's possible you're not dealing with a Windows Media Video file at all. Some file formats use a very similar-sounding file extension, but that in no way means that the formats are identical or even closely related.

Here are some examples:

  • WVM (Google Play Video): Usually only seen on Android devices as the format Google uses to store TV shows and movies, and can be found when browsing through the device's files, in the com.google.android.videos/files/Movies/ folder.
  • WMF (Windows Metafile): Graphics file format that holds drawing commands, like to explain how to make a rectangle or circle. The Widelands video game uses them, too, for map files that store the map's size, resources, and character locations.
  • AMV (Anime Music Video): Compressed video files used by some Chinese portable media players.
  • WMMP (Windows Movie Maker Project): Video project made with Windows Movie Maker.

Windows Media Player is also associated with other file formats that use similar extensions, but that doesn't mean they're the same formats. WMZ files, for example, are Compressed Windows Media Player Skin files that change how Windows Media Player looks, and Windows Media Redirector files (WMX) are shortcuts that point to WMA and WMV media files.

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