Reader Question: How to Play Obscure Video File Formats

Today's post comes from a reader: "I need to watch a video that was sent to me in a format that my Mac doesn't recognize (.asf). Is there something I can install to play this?"

You are in luck! The Mac is a very versatile system, but it's not all-encompassing when it comes to opening and playing every single file format that's available. There are so many video formats out there that it's difficult to keep up with. That's where the (awesome) developer community can really help! Here's your answer.

There's a 3rd-party utility I use (and highly recommend) called VLC (developed by VideoLAN, a non-profit organization). VLC is a collection of audio and video codecs that allow you to play just about anything. Below is a list of some of the file formats that VLC plays:

  • MPEG
  • AVI
  • ASF
  • WMV
  • WMA
  • MP4
  • Real
  • WAV
  • FLV (Flash)
  • MXF
  • Many, many more...

While you may not use it every day, it is something that I recommend installing so that when you do need it, it's already there for you.

VLC is completely free and can be downloaded here.

Posted on August 20, 2014 and filed under Mac, How To.