How to Play Any Video File: How to Install a Codec Pack

It is frustrating when you click on a video file to play it and you either get an error message, or nothing happens. Here is a guide to show you exactly how to install the K-lite codec pack and how to play any video file.

Download it from here: K-Lite Codec Pack

I’ve been using this codec pack for many years. If you configure this pack correctly, it will have you covered for just about every video file out there.

It will also install codecs corresponding to each type of video file that works well and reliably.

So instead of having to transcode all your media files, having a codec pack allows you to play them in the original format that you received them in.

We also recommend that you check your screen’s resolution. This can greatly impact the visual performance of your video playback.

Let us begin with the installation.

If you aren’t sure which package you want, I’d suggest going with the Standard version. Download the version you want and save it to a location you can get to it. Usually, it goes to your ‘Downloads’ folder.

Once you have downloaded the codec pack from the link provided, go ahead and right-click on it and in the menu left click on ‘Run as administrator’.

How to play any video file: Install K-Lite Codec Pack

1. Select your installation mode

installation mode - how to play any video file
select advanced installation level

Firstly click on the advanced mode radio button and then click on ‘Next’.

We want the advanced mode so we can tweak a few settings to our liking during the installation process.

You could leave it on normal, this would cut out some of the steps in this process. However, you will be missing out on some preferences that could save annoyances when playing back media later on.

2. Installation preferences

installation preferences
select players

Now it’s time to select your favorite player as the default player for your video or audio files.

I am a user of the Windows Classic Media Player as it is lightweight and has faster network streaming access to files over your network.

However, I realize that everybody’s preference in media player is different, so go ahead and select your player of choice for file types.

The rest of the options can be left to their default settings.

After that, click on ‘Next’.

3. Select your destination location

destination location

In this step, you can select where you would like your codec pack to be installed.

I would leave this set to the default setting. If you have a small ‘C’ drive or you are trying to save every bit of space on your ‘C’ drive, you can simply edit the text to change the drive letter to the one you want.

The alternative is to click on ‘Browse’ and select the actual folder you would like it installed to.

The need for every bit of ‘C’ drive space normally comes from having an SSD installed as the primary Windows drive.

However, with that being said, the codec pack is very small and shouldn’t make any significant impact on the space it will take up on your drive.

Simply click on ‘Next’ to proceed when you are finished with this step.

4. Select your components

select components

You can click the drop-down box to select the type of profile you want.

If you don’t want Windows Classic Media Player, you can select the ‘without player’ option. In this case, you can click on ‘Next’ and jump to the next step.

The second option you need to decide is the versions of players you want to be installed if you have a 64-bit operating system.

If you have a 32-bit version of Windows, this option won’t appear and you are good to go.

If you are running a 64-bit version of Windows and you can see the selection as it’s appearing above, simply leave the 64-bit version of MPC selected.

5. Specify shortcuts

shortcut locations

Firstly there is a setting to change the shortcut folder. I strongly recommend that you leave this at default, seeing as you would definitely like to access settings to the program via your start menu at some point.

Secondly, you can opt to skip the shortcuts entirely, which I also don’t recommend. Unless you are doing this installation for some specific purpose leave it as is.

After this, click on ‘Next’.

6. Specifying additional task options

additional tasks
task settings - updates

For these settings, scroll down right to the bottom of the settings page.

Firstly specify if you want to be reminded of updates. Bear in mind the cleanest way to update this software is by uninstalling the complete software package, doing a restart and reinstalling the newly downloaded version of the installation package.

So for this setting, I recommend that you get prompted every three months. New versions are coming out regularly and you will get bugged often to install the latest version. This way you can stay reasonably up to date without the extra annoyance.

I have found that things in the codec playback world aren’t that rapidly changing to affect your end-user experience that much to warrant updates every few weeks or so.

The second option is important for keeping extra unwanted software from being installed. Later on in the steps, they like to give you an option to install unnecessary software which can be easily looked over and the next thing you know, you have some piece of software on your machine that you don’t understand how it got there.

So unchecking the ‘Show optional offer’ checkbox avoids unwanted software creeping onto your computer.

7. Configure hardware acceleration options

hardware settings

Firstly, select the DXVA2 copy-back setting. Just under this selection box are some checkboxes for the types of formats you would like to use with this setting. Tick them all.

If the DXVA2 copy back setting isn’t present, select ‘Use software decoding’ instead.

It could be argued that other settings are better, but this is what I always have been using over the years which has given me reliable smooth playback of all my media files. 

I’m not saying the other settings won’t be as good or they are inferior, you are welcome to try them out and see which one works best for you. Every computer is different and you may get some extra performance through some trial and error with this setting.

The second setting is to specify if you only want hardware acceleration with MPC. I would opt against this as you don’t want to limit your options for playback. This article is about trying to get everything to play reliably, not to get the maximum performance out of every single file. For that, you’ll need a lot of documentation and experimentation.

Once these settings are set, click on the ‘Next’ button.

8. Media Player Classic HC configuration

mpc hc settings media player classic

I highly recommend keeping everything on its default settings for this page.

The Enhanced Video Renderer is the superior renderer of choice with Microsoft Windows.

The only setting I could imagine you would like to change is the ‘Remember file history’ setting. Apart from that, it’s pretty straight forward.

Click on the ‘Next’ button to proceed.

9. Select preferred languages

preferred languages

Firstly select your primary language in the first drop-down box if it’s incorrect.

Secondly, select your secondary language if you understand more languages than just one. It will be the language used if your primary one isn’t present in the media file.

These language options are used for text subtitles when playing back your media if it has extra subtitle data associated with it.

The other reason for these language selections is for audio track selection. Some media files have more than one language of audio track embedded in them. This setting will automatically allow your primary language to be used by default when you open a media file if it matches the language of the specific audio track.

The third setting is to instruct the codecs to show subtitles for your primary or secondary languages. Tick the primary checkbox to allow subtitles to use your primary language selection.

If you prefer not to have subtitles, leave both checkboxes unchecked.

Once you are happy with your language settings, click on ‘Next’.

10. Select the preferred media player

file associations

If you chose to install Windows Media Player Classic, keep the checkbox checked, and uncheck the rest in number two. Click ‘Next’ to continue to the next step.

If you don’t have Media Player Classic installed, check the Windows Media Player checkbox for the x64 version. If you are using a 32 bit Windows version, simply keep Windows Media Player checked. Proceed by clicking on ‘Next’.

11. Select file associations by type

player file associations p1
all associations p2

Make sure both of the file extension checkboxes on the top are fully checked. Make sure they look like the right-hand image with the red boxes around them.

This will make sure that all file types are associated with your media player.

Click on ‘Next’ after completing these settings.

12. Audio configuration

audio configuration

Firstly select the radio button that matches your audio or speakers system. Selecting ‘Same as input’ won’t select anything and keep it the same as the original audio track.

The second option would be used when you have a digital connection from your computer to a receiver or something similar. This usually makes use of one co-axial connector or a fiber optic cable to transport your audio data to the receiver.

There is a Windows Sound Settings button in case you would like to see how your audio is set up in Windows. This could come in handy if you don’t know what audio setup you currently have configured on your system. Apply the same settings that you see in the audio properties panel (default device) to the codec settings above.

You can read more about selecting your default audio output in Windows in our other article.

After this click on ‘Next’ to proceed to the next step.

13. Select thumbnails

Thumbnails

Make sure all the top checkboxes are checked by clicking on the ‘Select All’ button in the number two box.

This will make sure that anywhere your media files are displayed in Windows, they will have thumbnails automatically generated from the video files.

Once it looks the same as the above image, click on ‘Next’.

14. Confirm and proceed with the installation

confirmation

You can now review all the settings to make sure you have it right. If you want to change anything, click on the ‘Back’ button until you get to the correct page that corresponds to the setting you want to change.

After that, click on ‘Install’ to start the installation process.

15. Finish up

finished

Congratulations, you are done. Click on ‘Finish’ to complete the installation.

Just be aware that a browser window will be opened afterward, simply close it after it opens up.

Conclusion

If you have completed all the steps, you should have the ability to click on any video file and play it without any difficulty.

This is the easiest way to use your existing native media players to play any files.

If you don’t want to go down this path, you can install VLC (VideoLan) which has codecs built into it. This is a third-party media player that has been around for a long time.

Whichever route you choose, having issues playing some video media formats will be a thing of the past for you. Enjoy watching your video files with ease.