How to Add an MP4 CoDec to Windows Media Player
The Windows Media Player is a multimedia application produced by the Microsoft Corporation for use on Windows computers. Primarily designed to support the native Windows Media Player format as well as MP3, the player also allows other video and audio CoDecs to be installed to support other file formats. A common task that arises for users of the software is determining how to add an MP4 CoDec to Windows Media Player.
What is a CoDec?
Some end-users get confused by the term “CoDec.” It is used to describe software which compresses or decompresses a digital audio, video, or combined file for use on a multimedia player. Windows Media Player uses these codecs to both play and create multimedia content. Most CoDecs include two parts: the decoder and the encoder. The Decoder is responsible for conducting decompression functions of content while the encoder does the opposite (compresses the file) to a specific format. As an example, when a Windows Media Audio (WMA) file is opened in Windows Media Player, the application leverages the Windows Media Audio codec to decompress the file in real time playback.
What is the MP4 Format?
The MP4 format (also known as the Moving Picture Expert Group-4 or MPEG-4) was designed throughout the 1990s and released in 1998. The intention of the new format was to include all features of the previously released MPEG formats and add new functionality to help advance online multimedia technology. Designed as a container format, MP4 made it possible for an end-user to enjoy higher quality audio and video broadcast media without having to install multiple software programs to view or listen to the content.
iTunes was the first major multimedia client to adopt the MP4 container as the format for audio and video content and has been followed by other major vendors in adopting the format. Many of the software applications will change the MP4 extension to indicate whether the content is audio or video to save time on the translation of the file by the respective player. Although Windows Media Player is capable of playing the file format, Microsoft does not include the MP4 CoDec with the application as of the time of this writing.
What CoDecs are Supported Natively by Windows Media Player?
There are a large number of audio and video codecs in use by industry both on and offline today. The Windows Media Player and operating system are designed to support the Windows Media Video, Windows Media Audio, and MP3 CoDecs. Unlike earlier in the lifecycle of the Windows Media Player, Microsoft now realizes that the end-user will have the need to play other file formats on the player and has designed current generations of the software to support new CoDecs installed by the consumer to include those which support the MP4 format.
How to Tell What CoDecs are Installed on Your Computer?
Step 1 – Open Windows Media Player by double clicking the program icon located on your computer’s desktop or located in the “Program Files” sub-menu of the Windows start menu.
Step 2 – Select the “Help” and “About Windows Media Player” menu options. If you cannot see the “Help” menu on the player, choose the “Organize” menu option. Then, choose “Layout” and click the “Show menu bar” menu choice to expose the main file menu and “Help” option.
Step 3 – Choose the “Technical Support Information” option located on the subsequently displayed dialog box.
Step 4 – View the subsequently displayed web page loaded in your computer’s web browser. This will include the CoDecs, plug-ins, services, and related binary files installed on your computer.
Installing the Official Microsoft MP4 Codec Package
Microsoft provides a CoDec installation package to support MP4 audio and video playback.
Step 1 – Open your computer’s web browser and visit the Microsoft website.
Step 2 – Click the “Downloads” and “Download Center” menu options.
Step 3 – Enter “code” in the “Search All Download Center” text field followed by pressing the “Enter” key.
Step 4 – Choose the “Codec Installation Package” result and install on your computer. The current installer will support Windows Media Players 10, 11 and newer as of the time of this writing.
Step 5 – You will be queried for a validation of running a legitimate installation of Microsoft Windows. After validation is completed, the files will be available for download to your computer.
Step 6 – Double click the .exe file downloaded to run the CoDec installer on your computer.
Step 7 – Choose the default “Next” or other menu options when prompted by the installer.
Step 8 – Restart your computer if prompted to do so by the installation program to complete installing the official Microsoft MP4 CoDec package.
How to Install the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack
Another popular MP4 CoDec that can be installed for use in Windows Media Player is the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack available from free-codecs.com. The software package is frequently updated and sees a large number of Windows use by third parties.
Step 1 – Open your computer’s web browser and visit the free codecs webpage.
Step 2 – Select the K-Lite or K-Lite Mega Codec packs and then choose the “Download” menu option.
Step 3 – Select a download mirror and continue to save the files to your computer.
Step 4 – After the download concludes, double click the installer .exe file.
Step 5 – Accept the default menu prompts on the installer dialogue.
Step 6 – Restart your computer if prompted to do so by the K-Lite CoDec and the MP4 format will now be supported on Windows Media Player.
Additional MP4 CoDecs for Windows Media Player
There are a number of other MP4 CoDecs available for you to install for use in Windows Media Player. Some of these include: MP4 Splitter, 3ivx MPEG-4, FFDShow MPEG-4 Video Decoder, LEAD MPEG-4 Video Codec Standard, and the Elecard MPEG-4 Codec Pack.
MP4 Splitter – MP4 Splitter is used for the MP4 Bit stream format that is used as a container format similar to Matroska and AVI. The format was originally licensed from Apple QuickTime and has a similar installation process as the K-Lite CoDec.
3ivx MPEG-4 – Supports the playback of the majority of MP4 files to include M4A, MP4, MOV, and 3GP on Windows Media Player. In includes support for compact, high-quality MP4 and is also supports playback via plug-in for DirectShow and QuickTime.
FFDShow MPEG-4 Video Decoder – The FFDShow CoDec includes a number of DirectShow filters as well as a VFW CoDec. It leverages the libav CoDec from the ffmpeg project and post processing from mplayer to support MP4 playback on Windows Media Player.
LEAD MPEG-4 Video Codec Standard – The LEAD MPEG-4 CoDec is created to support multimedia decompression and compression on the Windows Media Player and Ulead Media Studio for standard MPEG-4 streams.
Elecard MPEG-4 Codec Pack – The Elecard MPEG-4 CoDec includes a number of MP4 encoding and decoding solutions designed as DirectShow filters. It also supports playback of the file format on Windows Media Player.
How to Convert MP3 to MP4 with iTunes
A common task for new adopters of the MP4 file format is converting legacy MP3 content to the new format. The conversion does not result in an increase in quality of the music file, but if you want to have all music saved in the same format, the iTunes media player can be used to conduct the task.
Step 1 – Open iTunes on your computer. If iTunes is not installed, visit the iTunes website and download and install the most current version of the software for your computer’s OS.
Step 2 – Choose the “File and “Add File to Library” menu choices. You can also select the “Add Folder to Library” option if you have an entire folder of music to convert to MP4. If the tracks are already part of the iTunes library skip this step to avoid having duplicate tracks in the multimedia library.
Step 3 – Select the “Music” menu label located on the left side of the iTunes main window. Then, right click the song you want to convert to M4A (MP4) format.
Step 4 – Click the “Create AAC Version” menu selection on the subsequently displayed file menu. This action will create the MP4 and leave the MP3 version of the song in the music library.
Step 5 – Wait for the “Converting” status label displayed on iTunes to conclude before taking further action with the new song track.
Step 6 – Continue to convert multiple songs by pressing the “CTRL” key and single click additional MP3 songs to MP4.
Step 7 – Make a new playlist for the MP4 tracks you have created by clicking the “File” and “New Playlist” menu options from the primary iTunes menu. Once the playlist has been created, you can click and drag the newly created songs to the playlist.
How to Convert MP3 to M4A Using Third Party Software
If you don’t want to use iTunes to convert MP3 files to MP4, there are a number of third party free or shareware applications available on the market that can accomplish the conversion. The 4Musics Mutiformat application is one of the software packages that can be used for creating MP4 files.
Step 1 – Open your computer’s web browser and visit the 4Musics website.
Step 2 – Download and install the 4Musics conversion application to your computer. The full application will cost a small fee to have full use of the product suite.
Step 3 – Open the 4Musics program after installation.
Step 4 – Click the “Add” menu option. Then select the menu choice to convert a single song or folder of songs to MP4.
Step 5 – Use the dialogue box that appears to choose the file(s) to convert to MP4.
Step 6 – Toggle the format type in the “Output Format” menu choice to “M4A.” The default bit rate, sample rate, and mode will be set to defaults that are sufficient for the majority of consumers on this menu option.
Step 7 – Select a destination output folder for the M4A files under the “Destination” menu label.
Step 8 – Choose the “Start” button to initiate the MP3 to M4A conversion.
How to Convert Windows Media to MP3 with Windows Media Player
Although there is not a direct conversion utility included in the current generation of Windows Media Player, the application can be used to create MP3 files by burning songs to CD or DVD.
Step 1 – Open Windows Media Player on your computer.
Step 2 – Choose the “Library” menu choice and pick the “Playlists” menu option.
Step 3 – Choose the “Create Playlist” menu option and input a unique name for the new playlist.
Step 4 – Pick the “Enter” menu button. Then, use the file choose to select the Windows Media Audio files to burn to CD or DVD. You can press the “Shift” key on the keyboard and left click on multiple files to add more than one to the list at a time.
Step 5 – Insert a blank CD-R or DVD-R into the computer’s CD/DVD drive. Note that your drive must be capable of burning discs for the process to work. Drag the playlist of content to burn to disc to the appropriate location in Windows Media Player to queue for the burning operation.
Step 6 – Select the “Audio CD” menu choice that is on the “Burn Options” menu.
Step 7 – Click the “Burn” menu button to initiate the burning operation.
Step 8 – After the music has been burnt to the disc, close the drive tray when it ejects the CD/DVD.
Step 9 – Do not allow Windows Media Player to initiate playback of the disc after closing the tray. To do this, press the “Stop” menu button.
Step 10 – Click the “Organize” and “Options” menu choices in Windows Media Player.
Step 11 – Choose the “Rip Music” menu option and change the file format to “MP3.”
Step 12 – Change the location of the “Ripped” music to the appropriate folder on your computer.
Step 13 – Windows Media Player will display a notification when ripping the music is complete and the songs are stored in MP3 format on the computer.