macOS + Windows
Last updated: October 29, 2023
How to Play Windows Media Files on a Mac

How to Play Windows Media Files on a Mac: Top 3 Best Solutions in 2023

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The transition from Windows PC to Mac can be quite challenging, even for those who consider themselves tech-savvy. The new layout, files, programs, and commands can be overwhelming, which is why users need some time to become comfortable with their new surroundings.

A common problem users encounter is not having the ability to play Windows Media files on their Mac or MacBook due to lack of codec support. It is possible to play Windows Media files on macOS, and we are going to show you how to do it.

First Things First: What Are WMA and WMV Files?

wmv iconYou may have seen WMV or WMA files that have been downloaded to your Mac. These are Windows Media files and cannot be played on your Mac using native OS functionality. Windows Media Video (WMV) files contain, as you would expect, video sound and images. Windows Media Audio (WMA) files only store audio data.

On Windows machines, these media files play easily using the built-in Windows Media Player and Windows Video programs. Microsoft recommends these players to play WMV and WMA files. Unfortunately for those users who prefer Macs, these programs are not available to run under macOS.

The lack of a native WMV or WMA player on a Mac can be a real problem, especially for users who are migrating from a Windows environment and wish to bring along their media files. Even users who never had a Windows machine themselves may download WMV or WMA files and need a way to play them on their Apple computer.

So let’s look at three great ways to play Windows Media files on your Mac or MacBook.

Method 1: Install a Media Player for Mac to Play WMV and WMA Files

VLC Media Player for Mac is an open-source freeware tool for macOS and OS X that allows you to play WMV and WMA files on your Mac. The tool also has basic video editing capabilities that some users may find appealing.

Here’s how to use VLC Media Player for Mac:

  1. Download and install VLC Media Player.
  2. Drag the program icon to your Applications folder.vlc install
  3. Launch VLC Media Player.
  4. Drag a WMV or WMA file and drop it in the interface.vlc wmv play
  5. Enjoy the show!vlc movie playing
✅ Pros of VLC Media Player❌ Cons of VLC Media Player
  • Completely free software
  • Easy to use
  • Plays all Mac file formats as well as WMV and WMA
  • Difficult to find advanced features in the interface
Microsoft does not offer Windows Media Player for the Mac. For this reason, if you want to play WMV or WMA files on your Mac you need to use third-party software.

Other Media Players for Mac You Can Consider

There are various free software alternatives on the market that can play WMV or WMA files on Mac. If you are unsatisfied with VLC Media Player’s capabilities, you have the option to explore other tools.
Here’s a brief overview of MPlayerX, Elmedia Player, and 5KPlayer, along with some of their pros and cons:

MPlayerX is a lightweight, open-source media player for macOS, known for its simple interface and broad format support. It integrates well with macOS, offering gesture controls and subtitle support. It’s designed to play almost any kind of media file, including Windows Media formats.

✅ Pros of MPlayerX❌ Cons of MPlayerX
  • Wide format support: Can play almost any file format without needing additional codecs
  • User-friendly: Simple, intuitive interface with easy navigation
  • Gesture controls: Supports Apple’s Multi-Touch trackpad gestures for easy control
  • Development status: Updates and development might be less frequent
  • Limited advanced features: May not have as many features as other advanced media players

Elmedia Player
Elmedia Player is a versatile media player for macOS that supports a wide range of video and audio formats. It comes in both a free and a Pro version, where the latter offers additional features like video downloading and AirPlay support.

✅ Pros of Elmedia Player❌ Cons of Elmedia Player
  • Format compatibility: Supports a vast array of formats, including Windows Media
  • Advanced features in Pro version: Streaming video and audio to Apple TV and Chromecast, video downloading, etc.
  • Built-in web browser: Allows users to watch online videos directly from the app
  • Pro version cost: Some advanced features are locked behind the Pro version
  • Interface: The interface, while functional, might not be as modern or sleek as some users prefer

5KPlayer presents itself as a more feature-rich alternative to VLC, especially for users inclined towards high-definition video playback. It supports a wide range of video resolutions and formats, including 4K and 5K content. Beyond just playing media files, 5KPlayer is equipped with additional functionalities like wireless streaming via AirPlay & DLNA, and the ability to download videos directly from the internet. This player is ideal for users who prioritize high-quality video playback and multimedia versatility.

✅ Pros of 5KPlayer❌ Cons of 5KPlayer
  • High-definition support: Excellent for playing high-resolution videos
  • AirPlay & DLNA support: Can stream audio and video files wirelessly
  • Online video download: Ability to download videos from various online platforms
  • Resource intensive: May consume more system resources, especially when playing higher resolution videos
  • Ad-Supported: The interface includes ads, which can be intrusive for some users

Method 2: Convert the WMA/WMV File Format Into a Mac File

Another option is to convert the WMA/WMV files to a format that can be played on your Mac. Microsoft recommends this method as the safest way to play WIndows media files on a Mac. You can find online converters as well as stand-alone apps to download to your Mac.

Convert File Format Through an Online Converter

There are several online converters that convert WMV and WMA file format to a macOS-supported format.

Convert.Files is one of the most popular free online video converters for Mac. One of its nice features is the ability to convert batches of files simultaneously.


The tool supports a large range of input file formats as well as multiple output file formats that are compatible with macOS. These formats include AMV, M4V, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPG, WMV, MP3, WMA, M4A, MKA, and a lot more.

All you need to do is:

  1. Select a file from your computer through the browse function.
  2. Choose the input file format.
  3. Select the output file format.
  4. Click Convert.
  5. Download the converted file once the conversion process finishes.
Convert.Files also provides the option to have the download link for the converted file sent to you by email.
✅ Pros of Convert.Files❌ Cons of Convert.Files
  • Converts standard video definition, high definition, and ultra-high-definition files into MP4, MPEG, WebM, MKV, etc.
  • Easy to use graphical interface and layout
  • Offers editing tools
  • The trial period has certain limitations

Convert File into a Mac-Friendly Format Using a Third-Party Tool

If you do not want to use an online converter, consider other third-party tools such as Smart Converter for Mac. It is simple and easy to use video converter that can be found in the Mac’s App Store.

Smart Converter for Mac

Smart Converter converts several file formats easily through its Smart Conversion Technology. It offers a simple drag-and-drop interface for ease of use. The converted files are automatically saved to iTunes. You can extract audio content from videos and save the sound as MP3 or WAV files.

Follow these steps to use Smart Converter:

  1. Drag and drop the media file in the converter wmv
  2. Select the output format and click the Convert converter wmv convert
  3. View the file after the conversion is converter view
✅ Pros of Smart Converter❌ Cons of Smart Converter
  • Converts to all Apple device formats including iPad and iPhone
  • Easy conversion through a simple drag and drop
  • Stylish look with a dark mode
  • Adds the converted video files to iTunes
  • Pop up ads whenever you click the Convert button

Method 3: Use Parallels Desktop

Fans of Windows media can use Parallels Desktop to play WMV and WMA files, as well as run other Windows software on their Mac. In addition to Windows Media Player, you can run virtually any Windows software package on your Mac with Parallels Desktop. It goes far beyond simply allowing you to access your Windows media files.

Parallels Desktop windows media player

✅ Pros of using Parallels❌ Cons of using Parallels
  • Native Windows environment: Convenient for users accustomed to the Windows interface
  • Broad application support: Not limited to media playback, which can be beneficial for users who need access to Windows-specific software
  • Seamless Integration: Parallels offers Coherence Mode, which allows Windows applications to run as if they were native Mac applications, blending in with the macOS environment
  • Resource intensive: Running a virtual machine can be demanding on your system’s resources, including RAM and CPU
  • Costly Parallels Desktop is not free, requiring a purchase and subscription for continuous use
  • Windows license required: To install Windows on Parallels, you need a valid Windows license, which is an additional cost if you don’t already have one


Now that you are familiar with three of the best ways to play Windows Media files on your Mac computer, check them out to see what works for you. With the help of online video converters or third-party tools and media players suggested here, you can enjoy viewing and listening to Windows Media Files on your macOS.

Ian Haynes is a content strategist with seven years of experience in developing content and editorial calendars. He specializes in creating content that resonates with business audiences while being differentiated enough to draw in new prospects. As an expert in technology, marketing, and business-related niches, Ian can develop content strategies that help brands adhere to a consistent philosophy and create a strong digital presence.
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Andrey Vasilyev is an Editorial Advisor at onMac. Andrey is a software expert with extensive experience in data recovery, computer forensics, and litigation. Andrey has over 12 years of experience in software development, database administration, and hardware repair.
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