HOW TO: Enable/fix playback of various media formats in Opus

The information below should help you enable playback of various media formats in Opus, and could potentially fix issues with other Windows programs such as Windows Media Player.

Alternative movie playback plugins

If your issues are with video files, this is often the quickest and easiest way to get video playback working.

You have the option of not using the default Movie plugin which comes with Opus, and using one of the video players which comes with Windows (or one from a third party) in the viewer pane.

For something to work in the viewer pane (rather than as a separate application/window), it must provide a Preview Handler, an ActiveX control, or an Opus-specific plugin.

Disabling the Movie plugin may be enough to get playback to happen via something else. (Note that this will also disable some of the metadata columns which the Movie plugin provides.)

If you don't get the results you want after disabling the Movie plugin, configure the ActiveX + Preview + Office + Web plugin to tell it to use something else for the appropriate file extension, if other viewers are installed. The ActiveX + Preview + Office + Web plugin acts as a bridge between Opus and other types of components which can display files.

Formats which should work "out of the box" (MPEG, MP4, MP3, AVI, WAV, WMA, WMV, MKV...)

Opus should be able to play MPEG & AVI (via the Movie plugin in viewer panes), MP3 & WAV (via the File -> File Commands -> Play Sounds built-in music player) out of the box. (Some AVI files will require an additional codec such as FFDShow. See the sections below for how to get it.)

MP4 is supported out of the box by Windows 7 and above.

MKV is supported out of the box by Windows 10 and above.

(2021 update: In the last few years of Windows 10 updates, video playback seems less likely to work out of the box for some reason. The quickest fix is often the Alternative movie playback plugins section at the top of this first post. We're working on a new Movie plugin which makes this easier.)

If any of these formats stop working in Opus it's probably because something has broken the registry settings for them (usually when taking over the file formats in an incorrect way.)

You can usually repair this by telling Windows Media Player to take back the file formats (temporarily) so that the registry settings are fixed. You only need to do this for the broken formats and you can restore the associations back to your preferred media player (assuming it isn't Windows Media Player) afterwards.

  • Windows 10: Go to Control Panel -> System -> Default Apps and click the Video Player option, then assign it to Windows Media Player.

  • Windows Vista/7/8: Go to Control Panel -> Programs -> Default Programs and assign things to Windows Media Player there.

  • Windows XP: Load Windows Media Player, right-click its titlebar and select Tools -> Options; then, on the File Types tab associate Media Player with Movie file (mpeg), Movie file (avi), MP3 audio file (mp3) and so on.

Assigning the file types to Windows Media Player only needs to be done once, temporarily, to fix the problem. After you've done it once you can assign the types to something else again if you like.

MOV (QuickTime)

If your system can play QuickTime files in Windows Media Player then they should also work in Opus viewers.

Newer QuickTime files are essentially MP4 files with a different extension:

  • Windows 7 and above: MP4 playback is built into Windows these days.

You should be able to play newer MOV files if the MP4 components are working. Try following the Formats which should work "out of the box" section above if they are not.

  • Older versions of Windows:

You can install an MP4 Splitter (32-bit | 64-bit) and FFDShow (32-bit & 64-bit) codec. (See the next section for help installing the splitter DLL.)

Very old MOV files were not MP4 compatible. For advice with those, click this section to expand it:

Older MOV files

Older QuickTime files require QuickTime or more custom codecs/splitters. First, ask yourself how much you really need these old files to play outside of special applications, as the effort may not be worth it, and installing old video software can cause problems.

Sadly, the default QuickTime install from Apple will not enable DirectShow playback on its own. QuickTime is also something of an abomination which you may not want messing with your computer, and even Apple have deprecated it in recent years.

If you do want to install QuickTime, it used to be the case that installing the Nero CD/DVD-burning software alongside it would enable playback in other programs, as Nero included a DirectShow wrapper around QuickTime. Whether that is still true today (2017) needs verifying. (Again, ask yourself how badly you want to play those old files. The newer mov files need none of this.)

There is also a program called QuickTime Alternative which provides a similar wrapper, although this unfortunately also involves installing an unofficial version of the QuickTime DLLs, which may not be desirable. (QTA is not strictly an alternative to QuickTime; it includes components of QuickTime extracted from the official installer, or at least did the last time the author of this FAQ looked into it; it may be different now.)

Formats which need 3rd party codecs/splitters (FLV (Flash Video), 3GP, etc.)

This also applies to MP4 on Windows XP and Vista, but not later versions of Windows which have MP4 playback built-in and can be repaired as per the first section.

This also applies to MKV (Matroska) on older versions of Windows. Windows 10 is the first one with built-in MKV support.

FLV was a popular format for online videos (YouTube, etc.) and can be played in Opus with some additional setup. The same is true of MP4 and MKV and other formats, if you are on an older version of Windows. The same is true of most more obscure (or simply new) formats.

The first step is to get these formats playing back in Windows Media Player.

  • 64-bit note: If you're using 64-bit Windows then your system will have both a 32-bit and a 64-bit version of Windows Media Player.

Opus is a 64-bit program and this applies to the default Movie plugin as well. You need to get videos working with the 64-bit version of Windows Media Player for them to work with Opus's default Movie plugin.

At the time of writing, the 64-bit Windows Media Player is still not version that Windows launches by default. To launch the 64-bit version, open the Start Menu and type this:

%Programfiles%\Windows Media Player\wmplayer.exe

(That will also launch the 32-bit version if you're using a 32-bit OS, so if you are not sure then just run that.)

To get things working in Windows Media Player you should install an appropriate splitter. The Media Player Classic Home Cinema project (a fork of the Media Player Classic project) on SourceForge has many splitters which seem to be well-written and include splitters for FLV, MKV, MP4 and many other formats:

Some FLV files seem to work better using these alternatives splitters from the Guliverkli2 project (another fork of Media Player Classic and related components) on SourceForge:

To install the splitters, extract the archives, copy the .ax files inside somewhere safe (e.g. Program Files), then run regsvr32.exe on them to register them. (If you are using Vista or above, you need to run regsvr32.exe from an Administrator command prompt. An Opus button to Register/Unregister via regsvr32 can be used to do this for you, including handle Administrator elevation.)

In addition to the splitters for the container formats you will also need a codec which can decode the actual video inside them. FFDShow is a single-install codec which can play almost anything:

After confirming that FLV plays in Windows Media Player you may then need to either create a simple registry entry or explicitly add any missing extensions to the Movie plugin to enable FLV playback in Opus. The easiest way is to download this zip and double-click this registry (.reg) file inside of it: (2.1 KB)

The registry file creates the required entries to enable playback of the following formats in Opus and Windows Media Player (assuming the appropriate splitters and codecs are also installed):

  • .ogg
  • .ogm
  • .mka
  • .mkv
  • .mp4 (Vista version only; Win7 has it already)
  • .flv

If you don't care about Media Center and would rather configure things manually then you only need to create the PerceivedType = Video values in the registry, as shown in this screenshot:

If you don't want to change any registry settings then you can instead open an Opus window and go to Preferences / Viewer / Plugins, configure the Movie plugin and add any missing extensions to its list. Of course, this will only make the formats work in Opus.

(You may also find you don't need to change the registry or the Movie plugin config with newer versions of Opus.)

Other video formats

If a video format, e.g. Real Media, works in Windows Media Player but not in Opus then you probably just need to create a PerceivedType registry entry, or add the extension to the Movie plugin, both shown above.

If a video format doesn't play in Windows Media Player then it is unlikely to work in Opus and you will need to seek out the appropriate codecs/splitters/filters. Be careful as some codecs will make your system unstable and combinations of lots of different codecs can result in conflicts which are difficult to resolve. If in doubt, ask in the forums here or, even better, at a site that is dedicated to video playback.

How to make MP3, WMA and WAV play in the viewer pane

For WAV files, there is an option Preferences / File Operations / Double-click on Files: Use internal sound player for WAV files. When the option is enabled, double-clicking WAV files in Opus will play them in a little sound player window. (The option has no effect on double-clicks outside of Opus.)

You can also access this player with the Play command which can be assigned to the Left double-click events of MP3 and WMA file types, if you like.

If you select an MP3, WMA or WAV file and open the viewer pane then Opus will, by default, try to play them via the ActiveX + Preview + Office + Web plugin, which in turn will usually ask Windows Media Player's ActiveX control to handle them. This depends a bit on your system's configuration, however. Ask for help, if needed.

I've updated this FAQ to include info & links for 64-bit splitters and codecs.

I also updated the Splitter links to point to the newer Media Player Classic Home Cinema versions which I have found to be better than the old ones (for FLV in particular).

I've updated the file linked above so that it now includes registry files suitable for:

  • Windows Vista 32-bit (the old version of the file)
  • Windows 7 32-bit (new)
  • Windows 7 64-bit (new)[

About video playback on 64-bit systems:

Remember that, on 64-bit versions of Windows, Opus is a 64-bit program so it's the 64-bit codecs and splitters/filters which Opus will use.

On the other hand, Windows Media Player is a 32-bit program, even on 64-bit Windows, so it's the 32-bit codecs and splitters/filters which WMP will use.

Since the two programs require different components to be installed it can be confusing when video works in one but not the other.

You can get video working in both; to do so you need to install both 32-bit and 64-bit codecs and splitters/filters.

Confused? Yeah. Video playback was complex enough with 32-bit... With 64-bit it's even worse. :slight_smile: A good codec pack should take care of all this but I don't personally know which to recommend as I still like to do it all by hand so I know exactly what has been done. Check out the forums at some video-related sites if you need advice.

At some point I want to write a plugin for Opus which lets you hook into VLC to avoid all of this codec nonsense. Hopefully not too long away...