Microsoft never completely killed off the classic Windows Media Player, but in recent years it hasn’t shown it much love either. Now, the audio and video tool is back in a new incarnation for Windows 11, and while it doesn’t have all the features of its predecessor, it’s off to a good start.
Still, there are plenty of high-quality alternatives for Windows that might suit you better. In fact, if you need to play music or movies, you are spoiled for choice when choosing the software.
You can download the new Windows Media Player for Windows 11 by launching the Microsoft Store browser from the Start menu, then searching for “media player” in the box at the top. If you don’t see it, the update may not have rolled out to your region yet, but there is a workaround to download the app manually.
Once the program is up and running, you can click open files) to do just that, or use the Music library and Video library on the left to browse what Media Player has found on your computer (click Add Folder if you have files stored in locations outside of the standard Windows Music and Videos folders).
[Related: How to convert any file to any format]
the Read Queue link will show you the upcoming audio and video files, while you can use the Playlists to create custom lists of files to play. At least for now, Windows 11 media player doesn’t include any streaming service – everything you play has to be stored locally on your computer.
Click on the three dots in the lower right corner and you can view the audio equalizer or change the playback speed of your content. Finally, select Settings to adjust the color scheme of the media player or to specify the location of all your audio and video files.
Windows Media Player comes with Windows.
VLC Media Player has built up a loyal following over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. The program comes packed with features, supports a wide variety of popular audio and video formats, and has a spartan interface that keeps the focus on what you’re playing.
The app comes with a stack of audio and video effects you can play around with, so you can jazz up your movies or boost the bass in your music, for example. In fact, there are so many features here that it would probably take you several hours to explore them all properly.
VLC Media Player is neither complicated nor difficult to use, far from it. You can simply drag files onto the app to open them, and you’ll have support for creating playlists, streaming media over a local network, and even loading web-hosted audio and video streams.
To get an idea of how rich VLC Media Player is, choose Tools then Preferences. The next dialog lets you adjust everything from the keyboard shortcuts you use to control playback to how video subtitles look onscreen.
VLC Media Player is free to download.
Apple still hasn’t turned the Windows version of iTunes into Apple Music like it did on Mac, but there aren’t big differences between the two. If you’re looking for a local media player for Windows 11, iTunes is still one of the best options whether or not you have Apple devices or an Apple Music subscription.
Where iTunes has always excelled is in music library management. The app is perfect if you have a large collection of digital music, and few other programs come close in terms of organizing your albums, artists, and tracks in an easy and intuitive way.
Here you will also find support for videos and, if you wish, you can buy digital content directly from Apple. You can also sign up for a $10 per month Apple Music subscription, which won’t affect your local library, as the program will seamlessly integrate tracks from your PC with those from the cloud.
Importing audio and video files from your hard drive couldn’t be easier, and iTunes will automatically organize the files into folders if you like. We also like the smart support for playlists, so you can queue songs based on certain criteria (like number of plays or when you last listened to something).
Overall, iTunes for Windows is a fairly complete package, if a little outdated compared to the Mac version.
itunes is free to download.
If you’re not a fan of iTunes, but still want an app with a host of content management features as well as the ability to play audio and video, then MediaMonkey has it covered. ‘case.
The app will make it easy to organize the music and movies spread across your hard drive and import any missing metadata about your files (like artist names or song release years) from the Internet. If you want to know more about the artists you listen to, MediaMonkey also gives you a direct link to their Wikipedia pages. The software also supports podcasts and can even stream media around your home to compatible devices (like other computers) on your local Wi-Fi network.
This is all a bonus to the core functionality, which plays your local audio and video files, and MediaMonkey does this very well. As you spend more time with the software, you’ll notice plenty of neat touches, including audio equalizer and sleep timer, that you can use to let your music go wild.
MediaMonkey is mostly free, but if you upgrade to a Gold subscription, you get extras like automatic file organization on your hard drive and support for smart playlists that match certain criteria. Paying a one-time $25 fee will get you all of these features and a year of future updates, but if you want to fully commit, you can get a lifetime of updates for $50.
MediaMonkey is free to download. Additional features and updates start at $25.
Potplayer is a simple, straight-forward, no-frills media player, and that’s why we love it. The app focuses on the task of displaying your videos and streaming your tunes, and you don’t have to wade through a load of menus and settings first.
When you import or drag songs and videos into the program, Potplayer will ask you if you want to add them to the playlist or play them immediately, which is a useful touch. The app supports a wide range of popular file formats, and it rarely crashes, so it’s rock solid in terms of reliability.
[Related: How to stream your video collection to any device]
There are several advanced features included if you seek them out, including an audio and video effects panel that lets you adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, color, and audio frequencies. You’ll also find the option to set your own bookmarks within the videos, which you might want to use to jump back through your favorite content.
By focusing on basic functionality, the software developers behind this program have produced a tool that is both lightweight and fast. Other media players are more impressive in terms of interfaces and have more features to tap into, but Potplayer sticks to the basics and does them well.
pot player is free to download.