Play Windows media files on your Mac

If you’ve had your ear to the ground you know that increasing numbers of Windows users are switching to the Mac. And with that switch comes a measure of confusion (and yes, I mean in areas other than “What do you mean my new computer isn’t subject to adware and spyware!?”). For the purposes of this Playlist entry, I’d like to focus specifically on media file compatibility—making files you had on your PC play on your Mac.

Sure as shootin’, when a friend or relative hops the fence to the greener grass that is the Mac, I get a message along these lines:

Help! I’ve managed to move my beloved movie files from my PC to the new Mac you talked me into, but none of the movies will play. Or they’ll play but show only a white screen. I’m switching back to a PC if you don’t help me right now!

And my reply is this:

You’re almost certainly trying to play Windows media files. Those files aren’t natively supported by QuickTime, but you can force QuickTime (and any Mac media applications that use QuickTime’s technology, which is just about all of them) to play them by downloading and installing the free Windows Media Components for QuickTime. Do this and you should be good to go.

If the files still won’t play, beetle across the Web and grab a copy of the just-as-free Perian. With Perian installed QuickTime (and its related applications) can play AVI, DIVX, FLV, MKV, GVI, VP6, and VFW files. Specific video types include MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivx, H.264, Sorenson H.263, FLV/Sorenson Spark, FSV1, VP6, H263i, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Snow, NuppelVideo, Techsmith Screen Capture, and DosBox Capture. Specific supported audio types include Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), and MPEG Layer I & II Audio, True Audio, DTS Coherent Acoustics, and Nellymoser ASAO.

And that should do it.

Ah, but what about the obscure audio file types such as FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, or .ape (Monkey Audio)? Call on Max. Yet another freebie (though contributions are welcome), Max can read and write over 20 compressed and uncompressed audio formats.

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