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I tried to open an AVI file, but this shows up:

Additional software is required for QuickTime to playback this media. It may be available from the QuickTime Components page.

Make sure your interest network connection is active, then click the Continue button to check for the software.

Exactly what additional software do I have to install?

It's on a Mac.

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Please add the operation system you're using, either to your post or the tags. – Molly7244 Feb 13 '10 at 20:37
Sometimes you can see what is inside a video file using the file command in Open terminal, type file (remember the space after!) and then drag the file into the window, then hit return. File may tell you just what is in the AVI. – CyberSkull Aug 13 '12 at 16:40

VLC will play the video without additional codecs.

You can download the Mac OS X version here.

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QT + Perian are a more Mac OS X way of playing videos. Moreover, Perian works with the all system (Frontrow, Quicklook, …). – Studer Feb 14 '10 at 0:39
personal preferences ... :) – Molly7244 Feb 14 '10 at 0:42
thank you! it works now – John Feb 14 '10 at 3:09

I think you're missing some codecs to play your videos files. Try to install Perian if you're using a Mac! This is a must-have for Mac OS X.

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You are missing a codec that your player needs to interpret the video.

Are you under Windows? If so I would probably suggest installing a codec pack with the player of your choice. I like Media Player classic.

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the message looks more like Mac OS X rather than Windows. – Molly7244 Feb 13 '10 at 20:32

Note that most video files are actually containers, meaning that you don't really know what kind of player could be able to play that elusive avi or mkv file. To be sure, you can use programs like VideoSpec. You can drag any file to the program and it will be analyzed. It will tell you details about the file and also what kind of tools/plugins you might need to reproduce.

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Here's a description of the what and how:

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