Windows 10 can’t play MP4 files [VLC, Media Player]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • MP4 is a digital multimedia container format most commonly used to store video and audio.
  • This format replaced MP3 on most portable devices since MP3 was limited to storing only audio data.
  • If you want to read more about this amazing file format, check out our dedicated Video Hub.
  • For more great troubleshooting guides, check out our PC Software Fix page.
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We all enjoy multimedia content on our Windows 10 devices, and as you know, multimedia comes in all sorts of formats.

Speaking of multimedia formats, users have complained that Windows 10 can’t play MP4, so let’s fix this problem.

Before we start, we need to explain how MP4 file format works. This file format is a digital multimedia container format, similar to MKV.

In fact, not that long ago, we’ve covered what to do when you can’t play MKV videos in Windows 10, so you might want to read that as well.

Since an MP4 file is a multimedia digital container, it relies on different codecs in order to work properly.

How can I play MP4 files on Windows 10?

MP4 files are great, but sometimes issues with them can occur. Speaking of MP4 files and issues, in this article we’re going to cover the following topics:

  • VLC not playing MP4 Windows 10
    • It’s most likely a settings issue.
    • To fix the problem, you just need to go to the configuration page and change a few settings.
  • How to play MP4 on Windows 10
    • You should download third-party codecs and install them.
    • If you don’t feel comfortable downloading codes, you can always install VLC Player and use it to play MP4 files.
  • Windows Media Player won’t play MP4 video
    • You might be able to fix the problem simply by disabling video acceleration in Windows Media Player.
  • Can’t play MP4 in Movie Maker
    • You can fix it by reinstalling Windows Live Essentials.

Quick Tip

Before starting searching for codecs, players, and problems on your OS, we would recommend you to let a third-party software do the job for you.

Adobe Premiere Pro is a great tool that supports pretty much any type of video file format for both import and export.

It is perfect for opening, viewing, editing MP4 and other video-format files, as well as for converting popular video formats into MP4.

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro

No more trouble opening, viewing and even editing your MP4 files with this highly popular and professional software.
Free trial Visit website

1. Switch to a third-party media player

switch to a third-party media player

Windows Media Player doesn’t come with the necessary video codecs, and this is why Windows 10 won’t be able to play mp4 files on your computer.

Windows 10 doesn’t have native support for all MP4 files, therefore, it relies on video codecs. If you don’t wish to install video codecs, you can always install a third-party media player.

Most of these players come with all the necessary codecs, and they’ll be able to play all MP4 files without any issues.

If you’re looking for a good third party media player, we recommend downloading the CyberLink Power DVD.

This is a wonderfully featured all-around media player, that supports a large variety of media formats.

It offers a unique CyberLink Cloud feature (in the Pro versions) that allows you to upload and stream from a cloud storage space of your own.

CyberLink PowerDVD

CyberLink PowerDVD

With this powerful, fully-featured multimedia player, managing MP4 files won't ever be a problem.
Free trial Visit website

2. Convert your files

If other solutions can’t fix your problem, you might want to consider converting your MP4 files to a different format.

There are many great applications that can convert your MP4 files to other formats, and one of the best ones is WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe.

Keep in mind that file conversion can take a while, usually a couple of minutes depending on the size of your video.

If you can’t play just a couple of MP4 files, you can convert all of them using this tool which conveniently improves conversion time compared to similar software.

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe you can easily convert MP4 video to AVI, WMV, MOV, M2TS, H.264, and other 420+ video formats and codecs.

By utilizing the GPU acceleration tech, it can convert a video at the fastest speed without any quality loss.

Besides, with the batch conversion feature, you can queue dozens of files and convert them with just one click.

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe

Now you can have full control over videos in SD, HD and 4K resolution on your PC with WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe!
Free trial Visit website

3. Install the necessary codecs

Install necessary codecs to view mp4 files

As we have already mentioned, MP4 files rely on different codes in order to work properly, and if you don’t have these codecs installed, you won’t be able to play MP4 files on your Windows 10 PC.

To fix this issue, it’s advised that you download and install a codec pack on your computer. One of the most used codec packs is K-Lite Codec Pack, and you can download it from Codec Guide.

If you wish to use any other codec pack, feel free to do so. Once you download and install the necessary codecs, MP4 files should work in all media players.

4. Run the troubleshooter

  1. Press Windows Key + I and open Settings.
  2. Go to Update & Security.
  3. Navigate to the Troubleshoot section.
  4. Select Video Playback and click on Run the troubleshooter.
    How to play MP4 on Windows 10
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the troubleshooter.

You can also run the Troubleshooter from Control Panel as following:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and type control panel.
  2. Select Control Panel.
  3. Click on Troubleshooting.
    How to play MP4 on Windows 10
  4. Choose View all.
    Windows Media Player won’t play MP4 video
  5. Select Windows Media Player Settings.
    Can't play MP4 in Movie Maker
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete it.

5. Reinstall Microsoft Live Essentials

If you can’t play MP4 files in Windows Movie Maker, the issue might be related to Microsoft Live Essentials. According to users, they had issues with this app, but they fixed the problem by reinstalling.

To remove a certain application from your PC, along with all of its files, we recommend using an uninstaller software. Check out any of these three tools to uninstall any application from your device:

After removing Microsoft Live Essentials, download the latest version and install it. After doing that, you should be able to play MP4 files in Windows Movie Maker again.

6. Turn off WMV DirectX video acceleration

  1. Open Windows Media Player.
  2. Click on Organize and go to Options.
    Windows Media Player won’t play MP4 video
  3. Navigate to the Performance tab and disable Turn on DirectX Video Acceleration for WMV files.
  4. Click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    Can't play MP4 in Movie Maker
  5. Restart Windows Media Player.

7. Change the file extension

VLC not playing MP4 Windows 10

  1. Locate the video that you want to play.
  2. Make sure that file extensions are revealed.
  3. Click on View and select File name extensions.
  4. Optional: Create a backup of the video file before you change its extension.
  5. Locate the file and rename it.
  6. Change the extension of the file from .mp4 to .mp4v.
  7. Click Yes to confirm.
    How to play MP4 on Windows 10
  8. Play the video again.

File is unusable after changing its extension? Check out how to avoid this unpleasant surprise.

8. Change VLC settings

  1. Open VLC Player.
  2. Navigate to Tools / Preferences.
  3. Now select Input / Codecs.
  4. In the Codecs section, locate Hardware-accelerated decoding and change it from Disabled to Automatic.

After doing that, the problem with VLC and MP4 files will be resolved, and they should start playing again without any issues.

As you can see, problems with MP4 files aren’t related to Windows 10 itself, they are related to video codecs that might not be installed on your computer.

And the only solution is to download and install the codecs, or to use a third-party multimedia player.

If you have any further suggestions on this topic, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about MP4 files

  • What is an MP4 file?

MP4, also known as MPEG-4 Part 14, is a digital multimedia container format most commonly used to store video and audio, but it can also be used to store subtitles and still images. If you’re running on Windows 10 and can’t use MP4 files, see this guide for alternatives.

  • How do I play MP4 files?

The easiest way to play MP4 files is to use a video player since this is one of the most common file formats available.

  • Are MP4 files still used today?

Yes, MP4 is still a very common video file format, especially when it comes to portable multimedia devices. Music players usually convert them to MP3.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in September 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in January 2018 and was revamped and updated in September 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
  • In some cases, Windows 10 can’t play MP4 due to incompatible codec so a video converter tool like hd video converter factory to convert mp4 to wmv is also a good solution.

  • What the hell. First of all it my mp4 files used to work normally. And now my mp4 files randomly stopped working out of nowhere. Cmon Windows 10!

  • I have a Swann security camera system that records to MP4. Win10 wont play them. Downloaded VLC. Win10 wont play them. Downloaded the latest greatest Quick Time. Win10 wont play them. Transferred the files to a flash drive and put them on my Windows 7 machine. They play just fine. Changed the file format in Win7 to something else. Put it back on Win 10 machine. Guess what? Win 10 wont play them. So whats up with Windows 10?

  • Why windows 10 can’t play videos recorded with windows phone, without some dodgy third party “codec packs”? They wanted to make one system for all devices, but it looks like they’ve done it the usuall, ridiculous micro$oft way.

    • Quite! I put a whole load of video of my children onto DVD in Windows 7, fab, runs a treat. Haven’t quite finished them all but can’t do it on Windows 10. Thanks a bunch!