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Playing Windows Media Files On Your Mac

TMO Quick Tip - Playing Windows Media Files On Your Mac

by , 7:30 AM EDT, July 14th, 2006

Apple has done a pretty good job of making QuickTime a universally accepted multimedia standard, but not everyone wants to play nice. Some file formats - most notably Microsoft's WMV and WMA formats - just don't work on a Mac without a little help. There was a time when Microsoft developed a version of the Windows Media Player application for the Mac, but those days are gone, too.

Luckily, Telestream's Flip4Mac adds the appropriate codec to QuickTime so that it can play Microsoft's file format. It's even what Microsoft tells Mac users to download.

The plug-in is free and easy to install. Just go to Microsoft's Web site to download the software. Once it's installed, you need to restart any applications that use QuickTime to display video and audio, like Web browsers and the QuickTime player application.

Flip4Mac lets QuickTime play most Windows media files better than Windows Media Player ever did, but there are a couple of downsides. First, it can't play files that are encoded with Microsoft's copy protection software. Second, the Universal Binary version isn't available yet. That means Intel Mac users need to launch Safari in Rosetta instead of running it natively if they plan on visiting Web sites that offer WMA and WMV files.

Telestream is hard at work on an Intel version of Flip4Mac, so hopefully we'll see something soon. You can root around on the Internet and find unauthorized beta copies of the Universal Binary version of Flip4Mac, but it's not a good idea to install software when you can't verify the validity of the source.

Translation: If you aren't downloading Flip4Mac from the Telestream or Microsoft Web sites, don't install it.

Thanks to TMO reader DI for posing the question.

if you have ideas for Mac related tips that you think other TMO readers might find helpful.

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