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What is an AVI File?


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Question: What is an AVI File?

Did you find an AVI file on your computer and wonder what program should open it? Maybe someone emailed you an AVI file but you're not sure how to use it. Perhaps you tried to open the AVI file but Windows told you that it could not open it.

Before you can open an AVI file (assuming it's even a file format that's intended to be viewed or edited), you'll need to determine what kind of file the .AVI file extension refers to.

Answer: A file with the AVI file extension is an Audio Video Interleave file.

Other types of files may also use the AVI file extension. If you know of any additional file formats that use the .AVI extension, please let me know so I can update this information.

How To Open an AVI File

The easiest way to open an AVI file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the AVI file then you probably don't have an application installed that can view and/or edit AVI files.

Warning: Take great care when opening executable file formats received via email or downloaded from websites you're not familiar with. See my List of Executable File Extensions for a listing of file extensions to avoid and why.

AVI files can be opened by nearly any popular video player, including Windows Media Player. The free VLC Media Player will also play AVI files, as will the free Open Freely program.

Most web-based storage services will also play AVI files when stored there, Google Drive being one of many examples. See this list of Free Cloud Storage Services if you're interested in going that route.

AVI files can be encoded with a variety of video and audio codecs as well, meaning that one AVI file may differ substantially from another AVI file.

If you know any other information about AVI files that might be useful to others, please send me a quick email and let me know so I can update this page.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the AVI file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open AVI files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How To Convert an AVI File

There are two main ways to attempt to convert an AVI file to another file type:

The first option involving opening the AVI file in its native program is preferable because it's both easier and will probably result in a more accurate file conversion. Of course if you don't have a program that opens AVI files and then exports another kind of video file, a third-party file conversion tool (the second option) could be very useful.

Important: You cannot usually change a file extension (like the AVI file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place in most cases.

Still Having Problems Opening or Using an AVI File?

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the AVI file and I'll see what I can do to help.

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