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Fixing Windows Media Player

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#1
gerryf

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Fixing Windows Media Player

There is something evil about Windows Media Player. This is not one of those anti-Microsoft rants about bloated code or Microsoft is taking over the world. For the most part, Windows Media Player works just fine. It's when it does not that the program can drive you to the edge of despair.

A key reason? It's practically impossible to fix. Windows Media Player integrates itself so deeply into Windows it is essentially unremovable, and it is so tighttly entwined into Windows that diagnosing the issue is mind bogglingly complex.

You cannot remove Windows Media Player entirerly, but you often CAN blow enough away to do enough of a reinstall to get it working properly again. It takes a little work and several steps, but that's what this guide is here for--I have fixed dozens of machines this way after nothing else worked--in fact, I am beginning to rely on this procedure rather than slaving away to determine a way to resolve undecipherable error messages.

The only drawback to this method? You lose your playlists, catalogues and preferences--all of which can be re-created. You will not lose any media (music or video) files.

Before you start, you're going to need a copy of Windows Media Player's setup files. You can get all versions of WMP from Microsoft here: Microsoft Windows Media Player downloads

You might also consider checking out www.oldversion.com, www.oldversion.com which is a nifty website that archives old versions of applications.

Download it and store it on your desktop for now.

After that, let's get busy. Start by logging off, (START > LOG OFF) which leaves you at the humble log-on screen even if you have a single user system.

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CTRL-ALT-DEL brings you to the old-style log on screen which is familiar to some but not others. You want to log on as ADMINISTRATOR, by typing Administrator in the USER NAME: box. Administrator is NOT case sensitive. If you are using Windows XP Pro, you must also supply the administrator password, which is the password you created when installing Windows on the machine. If you have Windows XP Home, the default is a blank password, so leave it blank (unless you set a password) Go ahead and press OK.

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Windows will now load the Administrator profile, which is necessary so that you can take care of a few folders in your normal user profile. You may need to do a little work to get to them though. First, let's open MY COMPUTER (START > MY COMPUTER)

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By default, Windows hides certain files and folders to prevent users from carelessly deleting them. Well, we're not going to carelessly delete anything--we're going to blow away some files blatantly and with extremem malice! So, first thing we need to do is choose TOOLS and FOLDER OPTIONS from the text menu at the top of the MY COMPUTER window.

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This brings us to this little window...choose the VIEW tab and then scroll down a little bit. We want to UNCHECK the HIDE EXTENSIONS FOR KNOWN FILE TYPES and the HIDE PROTECTED OPERATING SYSTEM FILES (RECOMMENDED) boxes. We also want to set the SHOW HIDDEN FILES AND FOLDER setting, by clicking the radio button, which will move the focus away from DO NOT SHOW HIDDEN FILES AND FOLDERS.


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Alright, Click OK to return to the MY COMPUTER window, then double click LOCAL DISK (C:)

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Then double click the DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS folder

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Then double click your normal user file. This will likely be your username unless you have changed it, but in some cases (for example, if you bought your PC from a large manufacturer), it will be called OWNER or USER. In this case, the default user account is GF


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After double clicking the profile folder you will be looking at a number of folders, some appearing opaque or lighter than the others. We are interested in two of these. The first is APPLICATION DATA...double click it

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Now we're getting into the bowels of your user profile. Programmers in general and Microsoft in particular love to hide things from users, figuring the deeper they bury them, the less likely a user will come along to mess it up. That's basically true, but then we wouldn't be in here if the programmers hadn't made their programs so hideously complex and [roblem prone. Double click the MICROSOFT folder.

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You should now see the MEDIA PLAYER FOLDER....stop, we're not going in there. We just want to rename it. Right click it and choose RENAME, and give it a useful name like, oh "Old Media Player". After it is renamed, hit the Folder with the green arrow pointing up on the toolbar twice to take yourself back to ...

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The root of your normal profile. We're not done yet. Look for the LOCAL SETTINGS folder....double click it.

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And what do we find? Another APPLICATION DATA folder! Double click it to reveal...

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Another MICROSOFT folder...what a surprise. Double click that to find...

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Another group of folders, including a Media Player folder. Oh joy. Right click it and name it something appropriate (ike "Old Media Player")


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OK, close all the windows so you are back to the desktop. For this next step, we need to be in safe mode. There are several ways to get into safe mode, with one way being to use the System Configuration Utility to edit the boot.ini file to add the safe mode switch. DO NOT DO THIS. In recent months, we have seen more than a few occassions where people have done this and locked themselves into a perpetual loop of rebooting. Normally, this method works, but in a few rare cases (certain malware and if people have the unpatched packet-writing software InCD from Nero) this can be in serious trouble.

Instead, reboot the PC and tap the F8 key while the memory is counting up, or while you are looking at the spalsh screen that says the name of the PC's maker or motherbaord.

NOTE: Some PCs disable the FUNCTION keys at boot up. You may need to activate the function keys so that they will work, typically with a F-LOCK (function lock) key.

2nd NOTE: Sometimes, when you press the F-Lock key, your PC will turn it back off when it first detects your keyboard a second or two later, so you have to be careful to note that the function keys are on.


Tap the F8 key about about once every second until you see this screen, then use your Ccursor keys (the up, down, left and right arrow keys) to navigate to SAFED MODE...

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Even if you do not have a multiboot system, you will be given a choice of operating systems...just hit enter

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You will see a whole bunch of lines of text--this is normal. These are your system drivers loading. In fact, this happens at every boot, but it is normally hidden by the Windows XP splash screen. Please note, there will be a short pause after several dozen drivers load.

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Your now looking at a windows logon screen. If you haven't been in safe mode before, you will note that now the ADMINISTRATOR account is listed. Once again, if you are using XP Pro, the Administrator password is required and it is the one you used to set the system up. If you are using XP Home, the default is no password (so leave it blank) unless you set one.

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Click the ADMINSITRATOR logon and sign in the password if needed.

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We're going down the home stretch, now. Windows is going to alert you youre in safe mode, just click OK.

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You're in safe mode, everything should look just like normal, just bigger...since windows is using the default windows driver. Things might seem a bit slower. That's ok, too. We're going to need windows explorer again, so click START > MY COMPUTER.

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Which brings us back to our old friend from earlier, but this time, we are going somewhere else. Double click LOCAL DISK (C:) just like before...

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This time, however, double click the PROGRAM FILES folder...

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...and scroll down to WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER. Right click WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER, choose RENAME and give it a nice new name (like "Old Windows Media Player"

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Windows will warn you that renaming this folder is a bad idea, but we're going to ignore Windows and go ahead and do it anyway.

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That's it. That's the hard part. Reboot your machine normally and go start the Windows Media Player installation you download way back up at the top.

If, after reinstalling Windows Media Player, all is well, you can go back to the above renamed files and delete them.
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#2
admin

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Great guide gerryf! :whistling:

Moved to guides and tutorials forum.
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#3
ozzie1012

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it wont let me reboot when i press f8
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#4
ozzie1012

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never mind i got it
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#5
Kurenai

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Funny, I always thought that the way to fix WMP was to install Winamp and VLC, heh.

Great guide.
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#6
SpicyNHot

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My urge media player opens slow.. So this guide will work for this problem I have? about Urge!
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#7
Tiak

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Thanks for the guide, *but* I hit a wall at this:

"We also want to set the SHOW HIDDEN FILES AND FOLDER setting, by clicking the radio button, which will move the focus away from DO NOT SHOW HIDDEN FILES AND FOLDERS. "

I don't see any 'radio' button!
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#8
BO BO BOLINSKI

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Gerryf, thanks for taking the time to post this fix. I have been trying to repair my WMP for days and have exhausted ALL GOOGLED remedies including yours for "Fixing Windows Media Player, ..when all else fails". This also failed unfortunately. See below for summary of my problem as well as several error message attachments from WMP and WEB Help for same (which was no help).

1. WMP works for another user account on my PC just fine.

2. Does NOT work for primary user account. I get this codec error msg >>>>

"An audio codec is needed to play this file. To determine if this codec is available to download from the Web, click Web Help."

WEB Help offers this info>>>

Windows Media Player Error Message Help
You've encountered error message C00D10D1 while using Windows Media Player. The following information might help you troubleshoot the issue.

Cannot play the file
Windows Media Player cannot play the file (or cannot play either the audio or video portion of the file) because of a technical problem with your computer.

The problem might be solved by reinstalling the computer's sound card driver. See the following sections for information about how to do this for the version of Windows that you are running.



3. I have done the following to try and fix the problem:

1. re-installed Soundblaster drivers.

2. performed an XP repair.

3. tried different dloads for codec packages.

4. XP System Restore.

5. regsvr commands in RUN.

6. Most recently your fix.

Logically, I thought that your fix made the most sense and was hopeful that it would work. Supreme bummer that it did not. The only thing I can think of would be that there is something in the registry unique to each user account (specific to using Media Player) that allows user 2 to work but prevents user 1 from playing the EXACT same audio files on my C: drive.


Although this is not a show stopper it is a severe annoyance to me, especially since I am a former Programmer/Systems Analayst that cannot let loose of a problem until it is resolved. I have had some tough ones BUT this takes the cake.


Any suggestions for other possible remedies?

ps: CAN'T SEE A METHOD TO ATTACH MY SAVED ERROR MESSAGES HERE? HOW DOES THAT WORK IF IT IS NOT A URL?


Thanks, Jeff AKA BO BO BOLINSKI
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#9
BO BO BOLINSKI

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Gerryf, thanks for taking the time to post this fix. I have been trying to repair my WMP for days and have exhausted ALL GOOGLED remedies including yours for "Fixing Windows Media Player, ..when all else fails". This also failed unfortunately. See below for summary of my problem as well as several error message attachments from WMP and WEB Help for same (which was no help).

The codec you are missing is not available for download from this site. You might be able to find it on another site by searching the Web for "1" (this is the WaveFormat or FourCC identifier of the codec).

Codec is missing
Windows Media Player cannot play the file (or cannot play either the audio or video portion of the file) because the Microsoft PCM Format (1) codec is not installed on your computer.

The missing codec might be available to download from the Internet. To search for the Microsoft PCM Format (1) codec, go to the WMPlugins.com Web site.





1. WMP works for another user account on my PC just fine.

2. Does NOT work for primary user account. I get a codex error msg which I am attaching.

3. I have done the following to try and fix the problem:

1. re-installed Soundblaster drivers.

2. performed an XP repair.

3. tried different dloads for codec packages.

4. XP System Restore.

5. regsvr commands in RUN.

6. Most recently your fix.

Logically, I thought that your fix made the most sense and was hopeful that it would work. Supreme bummer that it did not. The only thing I can think of would be that there is something in the registry unique to each user account (specific to using Media Player) that allows user 2 to work but prevents user 1 from playing the EXACT same audio files on my C: drive.


Although this is not a show stopper it is a severe annoyance to me, especially since I am a former Programmer/Systems Analayst that cannot let loose of a problem until it is resolved. I have had some tough ones BUT this takes the cake.


Any suggestions for other possible remedies?


Thanks, Jeff AKA BO BO BOLINSKI
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#10
rawwar44

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after reading thru all the replies, most from educated idiots, I offer the following solution which worked for me in under 5 minutes, without losing anything...run "autoruns", and check all boxes having anything to do with microsoft windows media player/windows media player...for me, 2/3 boxes, respectively. no restart, no log off...just restarted media player, all worked fine. sheesh.
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#11
Broni

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Can anything be done about missing images from the original post?
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#12
protiti

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Try using other software. There are a lot of better players. To listen the music you can use Winamp. To view video VLC is nice. And what about the KMP. That is the boss of all. Support all common formatted media. This is good for both music and video.
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#13
lynn1102

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I don't know if this thread is still active or not but here goes. I had the problem with media player not playing. I downloaded a new version, and now it will not open It downloads fine and get to 75% of the installation, then gives a message that it cannot continue and the player has not been installed and suggests ywo options - reboot and try again or web help. Neither of these worked. I followed the instructions here, but no help either. Several web sites mentioned changing registry numbers, but I don't have the lines they refer to. My second system doesn't have them either and media player works there.
I just had my motherboard replaced and and now have an AMD 4 core 64 bit cpu. I'm running winXP Pro only because it works fine and I would have to spend mucho money to replace half of my programs. I'd rather wait until I really need it I have 4 gigs memory (actually I have 8 for when I upgrade) and loads of hard drive space. I've spent over a week on this thing and am running out of patience. This machine is used in a small business and I need the media player. I know there are other players available.
Anyone have any more suggestions for this problem?
MS website was no help at all.

Thanks
Lynn1102
L
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