I want to be able to play a WMV file on my Mac, but can't decide which plugin/software to install. In particular, I need something that will interface with Adobe Acrobat reader, as Adobe currently do not have a media player plug-in that supports the file format. Essentially, I have created a beamer presentation using LaTeX that contains an embedded WMV file.

In the original post, I mentioned that my options were Flip4Mac, Xvid or VLC. Since then, perian has also been suggested. Having decided on Flip4Mac, I discovered that while it does function according to specification, it does not interface with Adobe Acrobat reader. Adobe, however, do suggest visiting the Apple web site for QuickTime....hence my reason for installing Flip4Mac!!!!

One caveat of Flip4Mac is that it cannot play WMV videos that use Windows Media digital rights management, so some videos may not be viewable even though Flip4Mac is installed.

An Xvid quicktime plugin available for Mac but is not well maintained at the moment, according to the Xvid FAQ. The developers, however, are currently working on improved Quicktime support, which will become part of the Xvid core code base. How good/bad is it?

VLC seems to be the popular choice, however, does it include a plugin to Quicktime, or is this a stand-alone product?

Perian, on the other hand, can be used with all QuickTime supporting apps like QuickTime Player, NicePlayer and QTAmateur, however, it does not support all formats.

Also, would downloading them from the MacPorts Project suit my purpose, or would downloading the latest versions from their respective home pages be better? Note that this is more a question of compatibility than anything else. Also note that I am running Mac OS X Version 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard).

Any advice/suggestions/feedback would be appreciated.

Just to let you know that I posted a similar question to the Adobe forum. This is the reply that I received:

Putting it bluntly, you shouldn't be embedding WMVs in PDF files anymore -
it's called "legacy media" and it's been discontinued for security reasons.
You can't author it in Acrobat X, and playback is disabled in all current
versions of Acrobat and Adobe Reader unless the user changes their security
options. Authors should be using Rich Media annotations, which embed FLV or
H.264 video and play cross-platform via an internal copy of Flash Player.

The weblink fired by Reader when it encounters legacy media for which the OS has
no registered handler understands that you're on a Mac - and as there are no
primary players for WMV files on OS X, that's what it tells you. Adobe does not
link to third-party add-ons for other software, and even with those installed it
will continue to complain unless the add-on has changed the file type
associations, so that WMV files +automatically+ open in Quicktime.

In view of this reply, it's clear that I cannot view WMV files embedded in PDF files, no matter what third party software I have installed under Mac OS. Nevertheless, I appreciate the feedback that I received from each of you. While VLC seems like the most attractive alternative, the reason I chose flip4mac is because I do not wish to clutter my system with duplicate/redundant media players. While this solves my problem of being able to play WMV files under Mac OS, it does not solve my original problem concerning Adobe Acrobat Reader. It seems like I will have to use Rich Media annotations to do this.

Problem solved! I ended up converting the WMV file to MP4 (a format that Adobe Flash Player and QuickTime understands). This allowed me to play the media file embedded in the PDF document. For the complete story, have a look at the TeX-LaTeX.SE group.


4 Answers 4


I've tried them all flip4mac, perian... trust me, VLC is your simplest and most efficient solution. It handles almost every single video type known, including WMV. Perian with Quicktime would come a good second, but still doesn't beat VLC as it doesn't have VLC's codec coverage. So that would most definitely be the best solution.

But is there any specific reason you're looking for a quicktime based solution? If only "playing" a video, is your primary requirement, VLC takes care of that (and pretty darn well i might add).


(I've written a post on my blog covering most of the "good" software that I use. You're welcome to check it out. VLC was my final vote there. Excuse the shameless self promotion. Ignore if offended)

  • 2
    VLC is the best.
    – JFW
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 21:50
  • Will it interfere with what I already have installed, that is with flip4mac? In other words, will I need to uninstall flip4mac before installing VLC? Furthermore, will it resolve my interface problem with Adobe Acrobat reader?
    – Bill
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 22:25
  • @Bill: I don't foresee any issues. Each should function independently. No clue about the Adobe Acrobat reader, I use only Preview.
    – KG -
    Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 4:34
  • @Kaushik: Thanks for your reply. As a matter of course, I have posed the same question on the Adobe forum. Will let you know how I go.
    – Bill
    Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 6:07
  • @KaushikGopal the blog post link is broken - do you have an updated link? Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 0:30

I havent seen any videos with Microsoft DRM in a while. Most people I know go with flip4mac and perian so you can play most things without opening a secondary player.

  • Thanks for that. From your reply, I gather that Xvid and VLC are stand-alone products in their own right. I had a look at perian and, although it can be used with all QuickTime supporting apps like QuickTime Player, NicePlayer and QTAmateur, it does not support all formats. Decisions, decisions....
    – Bill
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 14:00
  • Just to let you know that I decided to install flip4mac. While it does function according to specs, it does not interface with Adobe Acrobat reader, meaning that I have to download the plug-in that supports the media file format. Unfortunately, the third-party media player required to play the selected media file is not available for my system. Adobe, however, recommend that I visit the Apple web site for QuickTime player....hence my reason for installing flip4mac!!! Nevertheless, I appreciate your help.
    – Bill
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 15:21
  • @Bill Good choice! I would highly recommend Flip4Mac.
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 15:47
  • @bill sorry for the confusion, flip4mac and perian sit side by side, giving you more options for quicktime. Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 16:11
  • @hobs - No problem. Thanks for that. In fact, I have solved the problem. I ended up converting the WMV file to MP4 (a format that Adobe Flash Player understands). Have a look at TeX-LateX.SE for the solution.
    – Bill
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 22:35

I normally use "Mplayer OSX Extended" for all my Video Files. I think WMV will also work just fine with it. But I think it wont't play DRM WMV either.


M Player is a great media free player for all kinds of formats. VLC is another good alternative.


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