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What Is an AVI File and How to Open One

Edited by Ben Jacklin

What is an AVI file? What does AVI mean? Which media player can one use to play a file in the AVI format? Can I convert an AVI file to a different file format?

Such questions are pertinent for anyone working with different media files. Microsoft has developed many multimedia file formats. MPEG, MOV, and AVI are some of the most popular audio and video files.

Read on to find answers to the questions we posed earlier. At the end of this article, you should have an easier time working with the AVI file format.

You can also check out Movavi Video Converter – a simple and effective tool for switching between video, audio, and image formats.

What is AVI format?

AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave. Microsoft developed this file format to store video and audio data as a single file. AVI files have an '.avi' extension at the end of their name. This file format is an excellent choice for synchronized playback of different media.

An AVI format is akin to the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF) – a multimedia container format. Container formats don't predefine the encoding process of your file's contents. Windows 10 and Mac users can also store their media files with the RIFF format.

Unlike the MPEG and MOV files, the AVI format is less compressed. The implications are that the AVI files are often larger than their more compressed counterparts. If you like, you could create an AVI file with no compression.

Many viewers love the AVI format for its simplicity. The file is also compatible with different platforms making it even more popular.

Are you looking to store movies and TV shows with excellent quality? The AVI file format is a great option. This format saves your files as lossless videos – preserving all your original data. You will have little to no trouble when you choose to edit your videos.

Lossless videos are quite massive. A one minute video may be about 2GB in size. Besides the size, everything else about a lossless video is great. You get to enjoy playback without codecs while the file quality remains topnotch all through.

How old is AVI?

Microsoft developed the AVI file format back in 1992, meaning that this format has been around for 27 years now. The tech giant created the AVI format to serve as the standard video format for Windows users. Today, viewers have numerous alternatives for the video files, including WMV, FLV, MP4, MPEG, and 3GP formats.

How to open an AVI file

Windows users should not have a hard time opening an AVI file. Double-click the video file, and you'll be good to go. Alternatively, you could right-click the file and select Windows Media Player from the 'Open With' drop-down menu.

Windows Media Player is the default media player for most Windows computers. Unfortunately, it might not open all of your AVI files. The free K-Lite Codec pack should bail you out in this case. Download and install the pack, then try playing your files again.

Say you have a couple of AVI files; a few open just fine while the rest give you a hard time. Let's find out why this may be the case.

Opening and playing an AVI file is not as simple as opening a MPEG file. The different video and audio codecs used to encode AVI files cause much of the trouble you might experience with such files. You'll need to install the right codecs to play the files seamlessly – AVI files often use XviD and DivX codecs to store media files.

CODECs (Compressor – Decompressor) ensure that your media players can pack and unpack media files. Given that a codec encodes your file with a specific algorithm, your computer needs to decode the file with the same algorithm.

If you are working with a different OS, say macOS or Linux, you'll need a third-party application to playback AVI files. The highly versatile VLC Player is an excellent alternative.

macOS users may also have to do more than merely downloading the VLC player. You could choose to convert the AVI file to the Mac QuickTime file format. This conversion lets you play your file on all Mac video programs.

QuickTime friendly formats include MOV, MP4, and M4V formats. With the converted file, you can view your file on iTunes and sync with any other macOS device. Just like for Windows, you may need to download and install the specific codec for your video if it doesn't play on QuickTime.

What other players could you use?

If you are not a stickler for the Windows Media Player, here are a couple of media viewers that will get the job done.

  • File Viewer Plus

  • Nullsoft Winamp

  • Kodi

  • Adobe© Premiere© Pro

  • Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate

  • Microsoft Movies & TV

Mac users could work with:

  • Apple QuickTime Player

  • Eltima Elmedia Player

  • Kodi

  • VideoLAN VLC media player

If you are on Linux, try out:

  • Xine

  • VLC media player

  • RealNetworks RealPlayer

Besides the media players, you could also try playing your files from the web. In this case, you'll need to store your AVI file in a web-based storage service like Google Drive or OneDrive. Then try to open your file from this location.

Are you looking to edit your AVI files? Try out Wax, Movie Maker, or Avidemux. These apps should help you render and create videos that you'll love.

Convert an AVI file

Do you want to switch between different file formats? Here's how you can tweak your AVI file.

For one, some readers come with the provision of opening your media file and saving it in a different format. Open the file and click the 'Save/convert' icon under the 'media' tool. This process might, however, not work for some of your AVI players.

In that case, you might want to find a file converter. The Any Video Converter and Movavi Video Converter are some of the options to consider. A suitable converter allows you to convert your AVI file to WMV, FLV, or MP4 files, among other file formats.

Alternatively, you could opt for an online AVI converter. Upload your AVI file to OnlineVideoConverter or Zamzar, then convert it to different formats. With online converters, you can turn your file to either a video or audio format.

Once you complete the conversion, download the file in its new format, then try opening it you're your preferred video players.

Are you still having trouble with the AVI files?

If none of these solutions work, this might be a technical issue. For one, the file extension is probably not for an AVI file. The '.avi' extension could stand for a different file format other than the AVI file. Avid Project Preferences (AVS) and Avid Bin (AVB) files, for example, both have the '.avi' file extension.

Alternatively, you may want to find out what codec you need to play the AVI file. AVIcodec can help you determine the correct codec for your file. Make sure to consult the 'Help' files while working with such software.

With this information, you should have less trouble working with an AVI file. Install the right codes for your Windows Media Player or work with the alternative media players. Alternatively, you could convert your file to a different format and still enjoy your watching experience.

Do you need a program to convert your videos? Try Movavi Video Converter. Enjoy lightning-fast conversions to any format with this app.

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