How to Find the Codec Your AVI Video File Needs

A co-worker of mine wanted to view a presentation that was emailed to him. It was a video in AVI format. When he tried playing the file in Windows Media Player, he could hear the sound but the video did not play. This often happens when the correct codec for the video is not installed. The only problem was that we didn’t know which codec the file required.

Luckily I came across a handy utility called qaviinfo. Here’s how you can use this utility to locate the codec that an AVI video file needs to have installed before you can view it.

1. Download qaviinfo.exe and save it to the same folder that your AVI file is located. Mine is at C:\Downloads for this example.

2. Open a DOS command prompt (Start > Run > CMD) and navigate to that folder. Type CD C:\Downloads.

3. The name of the video file in my case is presenta.avi. So I can now type qaviinfo presenta.avi.

4. A list of information about the file will be displayed. In the Codec column you can see what codec is being used. Here it is FMP4.

Command results

5. A Google search on FMP4 revealed to me this link. Which then led me to The Codecs where I found a download for a file that included the FMP4 codec.

Success! I could then play the file and see the video.

See Also: How do I find which codec is needed to play an AVI file?


  1. DOS4NUBS says

    He’s instructing you to navigate to the folder within the CMD window, and once you are in that folder, you type in the command QAVIINFO FILENAME.AVI. The file QAVIINFO.EXE must be in that folder before you type in the command QAVINFO… Unfortunately, navigating folders in a DOS window is difficult for some, and some AVI files may not be recognized by that program.

    Type in the following into a DOS window to navigate…

    DIR = displays contents of folder.

    CD = change directory (folder) command… use as follows…

    CD FOLDERNAME = navigates to the named folder that exists in the current folder.

    CD .. = navigate back to the previous folder.

    There are more commands you can use in the CMD window, but these are the basics you will need to know.

    Instead of copying the file QAVIINFO.EXE to the folder where the AVI file resides, you could copy it to your C:/Windows folder (D: if your Windows install is on your D drive), or to C:/Windows/System32 folder. This will make the command QAVIINFO command accessible from any folder without the need to copy the file each time to the AVI file location.

    Or even easier?

    Download a program called GSpot Codec Information Appliance from a trusted download site (It’s freeware), install that, and it will be able to evaluate all common video file formats and let you know what codecs they need, if any. Google GSPOT, and you should be good to go.

  2. Erik says

    I don’t understand “qaviinfo” then the name of the file? I typed “qaviinfo” then the name of the file of mine..but it doesn’t work! please! please! help me! :'(

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