How to Find Which Codecs are Needed for Playing a Video File?

Codecs are small programs which encode or decode a media file. When you play a video file on your computer, it requires a special type of codec which decodes it and displays the video on your screen. The type of codec should be the same as the one which was used to encode it. If you downloaded a media file on your computer from the Internet and are unable to play because the required codec is missing, then you need to first install that codec. But how would you know which codec is required? Sure you can use the VLC Media Player (which does not require any codecs), but what if you want to play it in Windows Media Player? Thanks to the free G-Spot program, finding which codecs are needed is a very easy thing to do.

First of all you will have to download the G-Spot program from its website. The download is available as a portable application. Just download the ZIP archive, extract the contents to a folder and run GSpot.exe from there. The user interface looks a little bit complicated because of so many settings, but its actually very easy to follow.

Click on the open button to select a media file. As soon as the media file is selected, G-Spot starts to analyze it. It displays so much technical data is displayed about the media file, but you have to pay attention only to two sections – Audio and Video. In these both sections, notice the Codec field. These are the codecs required for playing the selected media file.

G-Spot Codec Tool

In the above screenshot, I have selected an AVI file. The Audio section is displaying that I need MP3 codec (which is installed in Windows  by default) and the Video section is showing that I need DivX 5.x/6.x codec. You can google about this codec and find its website to download it. Fortunately, the DivX codec is a very popular codec and can be downloaded from the DivX website. Usually, the later versions support older versions. So even if I install DivX codec 7.0, I can still play the media file compressed with DivX 5.

If you do not want to be bothered by minute examination of every media file you download, then you can install a codec pack like K-Lite Codec Pack and be done with all your codec requirements. But if you are an advanced user then you can use the G-Spot tool to pinpoint which codec you exactly need and install only that one.

You can download G-Spot tool from http://www.headbands.com/gspot/v26x/index.htm.

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