How do I play a sound or music file in Windows?

Tip: This document contains information and help for users who want to know how to play a sound, music, or other audio file. See the sound card help and troubleshooting section if your sound is not working.

To play a sound, music, or other audio file in Windows requires that you use a media player program that is capable of playing that audio file. Below is a listing of different audio formats and media players that are capable of playing them.

Playing .AIFF, .ASF, .AU, .CDA, .MID, .MP3, .WAV, and .WMA audio files
Playing .AIFF, .AMR, .AU, .GSM, .MIDI, .WAV audio files
Playing .ASF, .CDA, .RA, .WAV, .WMA
Other recommended Media Players

Playing .AIFF, .ASF, .AU, .CDA, .MID, .MP3, .WAV, and .WMA audio files

Picture of Windows Media PlayerMicrosoft Windows comes with the Microsoft Windows Media Player (shown in the picture) that is capable of playing .AIFF, .ASF, .AU, .CDA, .MID, .MP3, .WAV, and .WMA audio files.

To open Windows Media Player and play the file by following the steps below.

  1. Click Start
  2. Go to Programs, Accessories, and then Entertainment
  3. Click Windows Media Player.

Once this program has been opened you can open the sound file through this program by clicking File, Open, and browsing to the location of the audio file or by dragging the audio file or the folder containing all the audio files to Windows Media Player.

Tip: You can also select multiple audio files at once and drag them to the Windows Media Player to play all of the selected files.

In addition to the above recommendation for playing audio files you can also double-click the file or insert the CD with the audio files to start playing the file immediately. However, if the audio file has been associated with a different program it may not open in Windows Media player.

Playing .AIFF, .AMR, .AU, .GSM, .MIDI, .WAV audio files

Picture of Apple QuicktimeApple QuickTime (shown in the image to the right) is the Apple Mac OS default media player and also a popular media player for Microsoft Windows users to play .MOV files. Apple QuickTime is the recommended media player for .DV and .MOV files, however, is also capable of playing .AVI and .FLC files.

To open Apple QuickTime in Microsoft Windows follow the steps below.

  1. Click Start
  2. Go to Programs, QuickTime, and click QuickTime Player. If QuickTime is not found it is not installed on your computer. See the QuickTime definition for a link to where to download and install this program.

Once this program has been opened you can open the audio file through this program by clicking File, Open, and browsing to the location of the file or by dragging the audio file to Apple QuickTime.

Tip: You can also select multiple audio files at once and drag them to the Apple QuickTime to play all of the files selected.

In addition to the above recommendation for playing audio files you can also double-click the audio file to start playing the file immediately. However, if the file has been associated with a different program it may not open in Windows Media player.

Playing .ASF, .CDA, .RA, .WAV, .WMA

RealPlayer is capable of playing the audio formats mentioned above as well as other audio formats. This program does not come pre-installed with all versions of Microsoft Windows so if you're attempting to play these files you will need to download this program before you'll be able to play these files. A download link for these programs can be found through RealPlayers site

Once RealPlayer has been installed on your computer it can be opened through the Program files under the Start menu. To play a file an audio file either click File and select open and browse to the location of the file or drag the file to the RealPlayer window.

In addition to the above recommendation for playing audio files you can also double-click the file to start playing the file immediately. However, if the audio file has been associated with a different program it may not open in Windows Media player.

Other recommended Media Players

VLC media Player

VLC media player is an extremely powerful, open-source, and free software program capable of playing AAC, AC3, DTS, MP3, WMA, Vorbis, and many more. The program is available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, BeOS, and many more platforms.

If you're having trouble viewing an audio file or just want a different media player you can download this program at: http://www.videolan.org/vlc

Winamp

Another excellent media player in Winamp, which is also capable of playing several of the audio files mentioned above. This program can be found at: http://www.winamp.com

Additional information