There are various audio and video formats on the Internet. The formats are designed to make it easier to listen to music or watch a video. There is just one problem. There isn't one standard universal format (Yes, I know about Flash, .swf and .flv but that is a topic for another time).
For Macintosh users it is a real problem. The good news is that there are solutions and here are a few of them. Mac users you have a pretty good media player already installed on your system.
The QuickTime player can handle a variety of media formats such as:
Audio - if the audio file ends in any of these extensions you should be able to hear the audio.
- AIFF, AU, MIDI, MP3, WAV (there are others)
- .AVI (an older Windows legacy video format)
- .MOV the standard QT video format
- .MP4 a newer video format that has improved video quality and a smaller file size
- 3GPP a format for cell phones
- M4V iPod video format
It cannot display the Windows Media video format. But there is a way to video Windows Video on a Mac computer.
The good folks at Flip4Mac have created a small program that can display Windows video in the QT player. It was so good that Microsoft now has the software on their site. If is a free download http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/wmcomponents.mspx
If you want even more features or control over Windows video or to learn how to use it you'll need to visit http://www.flip4mac.com/support
This isn't your only choice. There is another contender that might have the flexibility you need.
VLC Media Player is a free media player. VLC can play a huge amount of audio and video formats. It is almost easier to say what it can't play (such as files in the Real Player format and MP3 files (its a license thing).
You download the Mac version of the software and you are good to go.
The downside? Well, you have to be comfortable with downloading, setting up your system and in general figuring things out. Go to the VLC wiki. If you can't make heads or tails of what they are instructing you to do then don't download the program.
For the most part QT player and the Flip4Mac component should serve you well.
(Before you download anything make sure that you have sufficient space on your hard drive, that you have backed up your system files and that you have updated your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.)