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Windows 7 - How to Get More Out of Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player is included in most editions of Windows 7. While it remains a popular media player, it is certainly not without its problems. Compared to most other media players, Windows Media Player has very limited support for different formats. While many people would rather enjoy the convenience of using a media player which plays everything straight out of the box, such as VLC Media Player or Foobar2000, there are still some reasons to stick with Windows Media Player. The main advantage for some users is that Windows Media Center runs on top of Windows Media Player, serving as your complete home entertainment centre. It's optimized for remote control usage and it's great for watching TV, provided you have a TV card installed. Windows Media Player always runs alongside Windows Media Center, so any add-ons or codecs that enhance the functionality of the former also affect Windows Media Center. Follow the steps below to learn how to get Windows Media Player to play all audio and video files, no matter what format they are in.

1 - Download and Install Codecs
"Codec" is short for coder/decoder. A codec is a piece of software which decodes audio or video files and allows you to play them on your computer. Windows Media Player has very limited support for different formats. It only plays the most common formats such as WAV, MP3, WMV and a few more. To make Windows Media Player play any type of audio or video file, you'll need to download a codec pack. Installing a codec pack will also enable any other media player on your computer to play back files which didn't work previously.
There's quite a few free codec packs to choose from. If you are running a 64-bit system, you'll need to install an additional 64-bit codec package on top of the standard 32-bit one. One of the most popular codec packs is the K-Lite Codec Pack, available for all versions of Windows 7. Another alternative is the free Shark007 codec pack, also available for 64-bit systems.
Download the codec pack of your choice and double-click on the file. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation. As soon as it's done, you should find that Windows Media Player and any other media player on your computer will now be able to play almost any audio or video file type.

2 - Download and Install WMP Tag Plus
While Windows Media Player should no longer be stifled by its frustratingly limited support for different formats, you'll still have problems adding previously unplayable formats to the Windows Media Player library. This is because files with previously unrecognized file extensions will not be seen by the library when you try to scan for new files. You'll still be able to play these files if you drag and drop them into the media player, but they won't show up in your library.
To enable Windows Media Player library to recognize these files and add them to your collection, you'll need to download a free plug-in called WMP Tag Plus. Download the plug-in and open the file. Follow the on-screen prompts to install it. Next time you scan for new files to add to your audio and video library, Windows Media Player should include files of previously unsupported types.


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