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How to Play H.264/.264 Files on Windows (11/10), Mac, Android and More

What is H.264? H.264 is a popular video compression standard. It is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10 or Advanced Video Coding (MPEG-4 AVC).it is created to provide good video quality at lower bit rate than previous standards. And it did. It uses half of less the bit rate of MPEG-2, H.263, or MPEG-4 Part 2. Therefore, it is widely adopted by electronic devices, applications, networks, and systems, such as CCTV, IP camera, DVR, NVR, DSLR, GoPro, DJI, iPhone, and Android. However, sometimes playing H.264 files, especially .h264 files from security camera, is not an easy thing. For example, a user in spiceworks community says:

"I am trying to download some security camera DVR footage for work and I downloaded the file but I am having a hard time finding a player to play it. The DVR downloaded it to an .h264 file. I have no idea what kind of file this is nor have I ever heard a video file like this before. I tried playing it in Windows media player, Quicktime, MPC-HC, VLC Media Player with no luck."

Can't play H.264 files? Don't worry. Here we're going to introduce 3 free H.264 player software to play raw .h264/.264 extension files from CCTV camera as well as other H.264-encoded MP4, MKV, MOV, and other video files from GoPro, DJI, iPhone, camcorder, Android, etc. Alternatively, you can also convert your H.264 videos or download a H.264 codec pack to open the files. We'll show you more details below.

H.264 vs MPEG-2
H.264 vs MPEG-2

Method 1. Download a Free H.264/AVC Player

Option 1. 5KPlayer

5KPlayer is a powerful, simple to use and all-in-one free media player for Windows and Mac. It can play H.264/AVC, H.265/HEVC, MP4, AVI, WMV, MOV, MKV, M2TS, AVCHD, and more video file formats, as well as play back any music files in MP3, AAC, WMA, M4A, FLAC, etc. It can play all your favorite videos (from low resolution to 4K and 8K) and audios directly and smoothly.

Give 5KPlayer a try to see if it can play your .h264/.264 files on Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, or Mac.

It builds in numerous customizable controls, fully supports Multi-track video/audio and subtitles, TrueColor System, compatible with almost all multimedia formats and owns fast launch speed. 5KPlayer is guaranteed to deliver the highest quality viewing and listening experience.

Besides playing (H264/AVC) videos and audios, 5KPlayer is also able to play DVD and radio, download videos/films songs from 1000+ online video websites, and turn your Mac and Windows as AirPlay sender and AirPlay receiver. All features are free to use!

How to play H.264 video with 5KPlayer?

Step 1. Open 5KPlayer on your computer.

Step 2. Find the destination where your H.264 file is stored, then drag and drop it to the screen of 5KPlayer. Then, 5KPlayer will play it right away.

Best free H.264 player - 5KPlayer
Play h264/avc videos for free with 5KPlayer

Option 2. VLC

VLC is another powerful media player that supports H.264 file playback on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Howerver, many VLC users report that they can't play .h264 video file from CCTV camera, DVR or NVR. Yes, we cannot play security camera .h264/.264 footage directly with VLC. We need to adjust some settings before putting the file into VLC. Now let me show you how to do this.

Step 1. Open VLC, click Tools on the top menu, and then choose Preferences.

VLC Preferences
VLC Preferences

Step 2. Under Show settings, choose All.

Step 3. On Adcanced Preferences panel, scroll down and choose Demuxers. Click the drop-down menu of Demux module and choose H264 video demuxer. Then save your settings.

Enable H264 video demuxer on VLC to play .h264 file
Enable H264 video demuxer on VLC to play .h264 file

Step 4. Now try opening CCTV h.264 files with VLC again and see if it can play or not.

If VLC still can't play your H.264 file, try a different H.264 player or convert the H.264 file.

Option 3. Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player is a free media player that comes with Windows operating systems and was once released for Mac. It can play audios, videos and images. However, it doesn't include the support for H.264 until the release of Windows Media Player 12[1]. So if you want to play H.264 file on Windows Media Player, firstly make sure you use the right version. And then, you can follow our tutorial to open H.264 video on Windows Media Player.

Step 1. Click the Start menu, find and launch Windows Media Player.

Find and open Windows Media Player
Find and open Windows Media Player

Step 2. After opening Windows Media Player, check if your H.264 file is in the video library or not. To import your H.264 video to Windows Media Player, just drag the video file over to the video library window and then release the button.

Play H.264 video with Windows Media Player
Play H.264 video with Windows Media Player

Step 3. Once imported, just double click on your H.264 file to play. If you have trouble playing H.264 file with Windows Media Player, you may need to convert it.

Method 2. Convert Your H.264 Video

If you still have problem playing H.264 files after trying VLC and other H.264/AVC compatible players, you might as well try converting your files with WinX Video Converter.

WinX Video Converter is capable of converting raw .264, .h264, and H.264-encoded files, and more formats to MP4, MOV, and other formats for playing on PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, TV, YouTube, etc. It can read video recordings from surveillance cameras, digital cameras, action cameras, drones, mobiles, and those you download online, from lower resolution to 4K/8K videos. Making the most of GPU hardware acceleration, it processes video decoding and encoding at a super fast speed.

WinX Video Converter is a versatile tool bundled with video editing, video compression, video recording (available on Mac only), and video downloading features.

Now, you can free download and install it to have a try. It's easy to use.

Once done, just follow our tutorial to convert H.264 file for flawless playback.

Step 1. Open WinX Video Converter and click + Video button to import the H.264 file you want to convert and play.

Convert H.264 file
Convert H.264 file

Step 2. Choose an output format that can be recognized by your player.

Step 3. Hit RUN to begin converting. That's all. Once done, try playing the new file and see if it can play.

Method 3. Install a H.264 Codec

There are many codec packs that cover H.264 codec. To download H.264 codec for Windows Media Player, you can download and install K-Lite Codec Pack. For Mac users, they can choose x264 QuickTime Codec.

After installing H.264 codec, restart your computer, and try playing H.264 files again.

Well, above are the ways to play H.264 video files. Hope you can find a workable solution.


1. Hands on: Windows Media Player 12's surprising new features


 author - Matthew Palmer

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Matthew Palmer is a seasoned content creator with over 10 years of experience in Windows at large. He has been specialized in almost any technology with Windows OS and written thousands of new articles, covering everything from in-depth features of new laptops, latest GPU/CPU PC hardware, games, to software related. While digging into new techs, he continues enjoying painting and comics.

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