How to Fix Windows Media Player Codecs

by James Rutter
video montage image by Oleg Verbitsky from

Microsoft's Windows Media Player enables the playback of a variety of audio and video file types, such as MP3, AVI and DIVX. Windows Media Player, like all media player software, requires codecs to identify and play each file type. Because software creators and electronics companies produce new file types and new multimedia applications on a fairly regular basis, your version of WMP might not have all the codecs necessary to play every video or audio file you try to open. When you attempt to open a file for which WMP lacks a codec, WMP displays a "fix codec error."

Download the Latest Version of Windows Media Player

Step 1

Launch your web browser by double-clicking its icon on your desktop. Go to the Windows Media Player page of Microsoft's website (see Resources). Locate your operating system in the left-hand column and then click on the link in the right-hand column ("Recommended Player version").

Step 2

Download Windows Media Player. Click the "Download Now" button if you are downloading WMP version 10 or earlier. Click "Continue" if you are running Windows Vista and downloading WMP 11. Then enter your 25-digit Microsoft Product Key (located on the green sticker on the base of your laptop or on your desktop tower). Click "Download Now" after validation.

Step 3

Install Windows Media Player by clicking "Run" or "Install." Click "OK" to begin the installation wizard, then click "Next" or "OK" to progress through each stage of the installation. Click "Finish" to complete the installation.

Step 4

Restart your computer.

Open Windows Media Player and try to play the video or audio file that prompted the error. If you still receive a "fix codec error," proceed to Section 2.

Turn On the Auto-update Function

Step 1

Launch Windows Media Player by double-clicking its icon on your desktop.

Step 2

Click on "Tools" in the top menu bar and then highlight and click "Options." If you do not see "Tools" or a top menu bar, click on the "Layout Options" button (it looks like a square) and then highlight and click "Show Classic Menus."

Step 3

Click the "Player" tap in the "Options" application window. Check the box next to "Download codecs automatically" and then check the box next to "Once a day" to set the frequency of downloading codecs.

Try to play the video or audio file that prompted the error. Wait 24 hours for WMP to download all the codecs available then try and play the file again.


  • Microsoft strongly recommends against downloading codecs from unverified websites, as these can disrupt the proper function of both Windows Media Player and your Windows operating system.


  • If you are trying to play video or audio files recorded on a device that you own and Windows Media Player cannot play the file and does not offer a codec, contact the device manufacturer. Ask if the manufacturer has made a Windows Media Player codec available for download from the company's website.


Photo Credits

  • video montage image by Oleg Verbitsky from

About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.

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