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What is an AVI File and How to Play it?

What is an AVI File and How to Play it?

In today’s digital era, we often encounter various types of video files, one of which is the AVI format. AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave, a multimedia container format introduced by Microsoft in the early 1990s as part of its Video for Windows technology. AVI files can contain both audio and video data in a file container that allows synchronous audio-with-video playback, making them a common choice for movies and clips. As a Mac user, you might have experienced difficulty playing AVI files since they are not fully supported by macOS’s default video player, QuickTime. I’ve faced this challenge myself and have found workarounds to tackle it effectively. In this how-to article, let’s delve into what is an AVI file and how to play it, and highlight the AVI player for Mac, which is an outstanding tool developed by Eltima Software to make watching AVI on Mac simple with Elmedia Player.


Common Scenarios:

When QuickTime Can’t Handle the AVI 🎬

  • Navigating to your favorite movie but it won’t play on QuickTime.
  • Seeing error messages like ‘This file isn’t compatible’ or ‘Codec missing’.
  • Facing choppy playback or audio-video sync issues when trying to open AVI files on a Mac.

Sharing Video Files Across Different OS πŸ”„

  • Receiving an AVI file from a friend who uses a Windows PC.
  • Trying to include an AVI clip in a presentation or a project, and realizing it won’t open on your Mac.
  • Wanting to edit AVI files in a video editing software that primarily supports AVI on Mac.

Switching to a Mac from Windows πŸ’» to 🍏

  • Transitioning to Mac and discovering that your collection of AVI movies needs a compatible player.
  • Searching for a reliable video player to experience high-quality AVI playback without converting files.
  • Seeking a player with advanced features to enhance your AVI file viewing experience on Mac.

Step-by-Step Guide. How To Play An AVI File?:

Method 1: Using Elmedia Player πŸŽ₯

  • Download and install the Elmedia Player from the official website or the Mac App Store.
  • Open Elmedia Player and use the ‘File’ menu to select ‘Open’ and browse for your AVI file.
  • Enjoy your video with advanced playback options that include adjusting audio sync, video tuning, and subtitle management.

Note: Elmedia Player supports a vast range of file formats beyond AVI, offering a one-stop solution for all your media playback needs on Mac.

Conclusion: Elmedia Player offers a seamless experience for playing AVI files on Mac, guaranteeing compatibility and enhancing your multimedia enjoyment with its rich feature set.

Method 2: VLC Media Player πŸ“Ί

  • Download and install the VLC Media Player from
  • Open VLC and use the ‘Media’ menu to select ‘Open File’, then locate your AVI file.
  • Customize playback settings if needed, including equalizer and video filters, for an optimized viewing experience.

Note: VLC is an open-source player that is known for its prowess in handling a multitude of video formats on various operating systems.

Conclusion: VLC Media Player is a reliable alternative to play AVI files on Mac, offering both robustness and flexibility.

Method 3: Convert AVI to MOV or MP4 πŸ”„

  • Use a video converter, such as Handbrake, available at, to convert AVI files to a more Mac-friendly format like MOV or MP4.
  • Select your AVI file in Handbrake and choose the desired output format and quality settings.
  • Start the conversion process and wait for your newly converted file, which can be played on QuickTime or any native Mac player.

Note: Converting files may result in quality loss and will take time depending on the video length and the performance of your Mac.

Conclusion: While this method ensures compatibility with Mac’s built-in video player, it requires extra steps and waiting time for conversion.

Method 4: Perian Plugin for QuickTime 🎞

  • Download the Perian codec pack from, which used to provide additional codec support for QuickTime.
  • Install Perian and restart QuickTime to enable the new codecs.
  • Play your AVI files directly in QuickTime without needing any other software.

Note: The Perian plugin is no longer maintained and may not work with newer versions of macOS, so this method has its limitations.

Conclusion: Perian was once a popular solution for extending QuickTime’s capabilities, but its discontinued status means it’s less viable for current Mac systems.

Method 5: Use a Cloud-Based Service 🌐

  • Upload your AVI file to a cloud-based video conversion service, like Zamzar at, which can convert the video to a different format online.
  • Select the AVI file you want to convert, choose a new format such as MP4, and start the conversion process.
  • Download the converted file and play it using QuickTime on your Mac.

Note: While convenient, these services may have file size limits and can pose privacy concerns as you are uploading your videos to their servers.

Conclusion: Cloud-based conversion services are handy for occasional use but may not be the most practical solution for those with privacy concerns or frequent playback needs.


Precautions and Tips:

Ensure Compatibility 🀝

  • Check the AVI file for any corruption or damage that might prevent playback.
  • Keep your media players updated to the latest version for optimal compatibility and performance.
  • Consider converting AVI files when necessary, but always keep a backup in the original format.

Improve Playback Experience 🎞

  • Experiment with different media players to find the one that best suits your preferences.
  • Use external codecs if needed, but ensure they are from reputable sources to avoid security risks.
  • Customize settings in your media player for enhanced audio and video quality.

AVI Compatibilities

As we delve deeper into AVI compatibility and playback on Mac, it’s worth noting that AVI is a container format, which means that the video and audio streams inside it can be encoded using various codecs. The reason AVI files often have issues playing on Mac is due to the absence of certain codecs that were typically designed for the Windows platform. Some of the codecs that may come within AVI files include DivX, Xvid, and others that might not be natively supported by macOS.

Understanding video formats and codecs is fundamental for anyone dealing with multimedia content. I recommend checking out in-depth guides available at TechSmith’s blog on video formats, and the comprehensive codec information at the FourCC website, which can help you get acquainted with the technical aspects of AVI files and what makes them play (or not play) on certain devices.

Useful info: Check the list of the music players to select the best one for your Mac.


Throughout my journey with AVI files on Mac, I’ve painstakingly learned that while Apple’s ecosystem is built on seamless integration, there are times when we need to rely on third-party solutions to bridge compatibility gaps. Remember that while the likes of Elmedia Player and VLC offer straightforward solace for AVI playback, the trick lies in understanding which method suits your needs the bestβ€”whether it’s converting files for native playback, enhancing QuickTime with codecs, or going with a dedicated AVI player for Mac.

Still, the most stress-free path to enjoying your AVI files on a Mac is to leverage the capabilities of robust and specialized software like Elmedia Player. Its supportive environment and feature-rich platform provide an unrivaled user experience, affirming why Mac users continually turn to it for their multimedia endeavors. Play smarter, not harder, and let the right tools enrich your digital life.


You can use VLC Media Player or Windows Media Player to play AVI files on a Windows PC. Download VLC from

Yes, you can use QuickTime Player, which is included with macOS, or you can use VLC Media Player for more compatibility.

Android doesn't support AVI natively. You'll need to download a third-party player like VLC or MX Player from the Google Play Store.

You'll need to use a third-party app like VLC for Mobile to play AVI files on an iPhone or iPad, as the native iOS player doesn't support the format.

If your media player cannot play the AVI file, you might need to download and install additional codec packages like the K-Lite Codec Pack.

PlayStation consoles usually don't support AVI files natively. Xbox supports AVI if it contains compatible video and audio codecs.

There are limited web-based players that support AVI files. It's generally better to use a standalone application, like VLC, for reliable playback.

First, try a different media player like VLC. If issues persist, check for missing codecs or consider repairing the AVI file if it's corrupted.

Converting AVI to MP4 or another widely-supported format can solve compatibility problems. Use a trustworthy converter tool to change the file format.

Use a quality media player like VLC, and ensure your AVI file is not compressed or damaged for the best playback experience.