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Comprehensive Guide To Selecting Free MP4 Players

by Tom Volotta on January 30, 2012

Free MP4 Player DownloadMP4 players open the door to a more contemporary and expansive world of video and audio capabilities for computers, the Internet, and mobile devices. With its roots based on one of the several parts of the overall MPEG-4 standard and direct links to Apple’s QuickTime technology, MP4 is ideal for streaming video on the Internet and other distribution platforms and all you need to do it is a MP4 player. The good news is that there are a large number of free MP4 players for Windows, Mac, and mobile devices available to play content from within a MP4 wrapper.

When you first start talking about MP4 players you should realize that you’re not referring to a piece of hardware. With the term “MP3 player” typically meaning a handheld device to play music, it’s a natural leap to assume that’s what we’re also discussing. That’s not the case here. Although for marketing purposes, many hardware devices are indeed called MP4 players. We’re talking about the decoding and processing software often found in free MP4 player downloads that makes the hardware capable of playing back the video and audio. Though it is true that the majority of mobile devices capable of playing video already have their preferred formats built-in, installing special CODEC packages can modify some of them.


With MP4 becoming one of the new stars of delivering MPEG-4 (H.264) content and the ability to be a wrapper for other formats, it’s no wonder there are a growing number of free MP4 player downloads available online. Add to those, converters, rippers, burners, and CODEC packs to change various input formats to MP4 and the selection process can be overwhelming.

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MP4 players can be differentiated by the ability to deal with MP4 features such as reading a subtitle track, playlists, processing metadata, chapter markers, playback of still pictures, and whether the content is scalable. Not all free MP4 players are designed to deliver all of those capabilities, or don’t necessarily do a good job at it. Some operating systems may also restrict which features your MP4 player can access.Choosing the right MP4 player for you depends upon the type of content you need to view and the features you want. If you require subtitles or chapters, be sure the free MP4 player download you select can accommodate them.

A few samples of free MP4 players include QuickTime and iTunes (yes, iTunes is a type of player, using both the .m4a file format for music and .mp4 for movies) by Apple, GOM Player, VLC, Windows Media Player, Media Go by Sony and of course RealPlayer. Some MP4 players will just play video in the .mp4 format, while others can do more. Of course, you can also upload MP4 videos up to the RealPlayer Cloud and then you can play them on just about any device you want.


Selecting a MP4 player that’s right for you really depends on your computer and what you want it to do. If you want a MP4 player that simply plays MP4 videos most of them will be just fine. There are players that do more such as support subtitles and even convert existing video files into the mp4 format. Here’s a short list of what you should look for in a MP4 player:

  • User interface functions
  • Support for subtitles and metadata
  • Look and feel
  • Workflow
  • Library and playlist media management
  • Burning DVDs (Note: If you already have DVD burning software this is not an important requirement)
  • Lightweight – putting less stress put on your CPU and RAM
  • Graphics processor acceleration
  • Convert other video files to MP4/H.264
  • Plug-ins for expandability
  • Video and audio enhancements through preferences
  • Lack of conflicts or playback problems with your system


Perhaps more than MP4 players, encoders encompass more of a “black art” in order to create high-quality images and sound. There are numerous parameters that must be taken into account, such as the aspect ratio, key frame distance, resolution, frame rate and the bit rate (variable or fixed) at which the original material will be encoded are some of the primary settings to look for. What determines the need for which settings is the type of end delivery system the video will be played back and displayed on.

The better MP4 players will also have a converter feature, allowing you to change from one file format to .mp4. Keep in mind that even though the H.264 end product plays back efficiently, encoding can be a CPU-intensive process so you’ll want to make sure the computer you use can support the MP4 player you select. High-end, professional encoders costing thousands of dollars not only use the best software, they throw-in significant dedicated hardware at the problem. That said, there are some quality software solutions for well under $1,000. There are also free MP4 players, such as RealPlayer that can be used to convert video in one file format to .mp4.


As we move into MPEG-based player formats, it’s worth a brief review of the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) standards designated for a variety of digital video formats, which have progressed in complexity and quality over the years. Each MPEG standard encompasses several “parts.” These represent evolutionary changes and improvements designed for particular applications.

Older MPEG standards, such as MPEG-1, a very low bit-rate format, were designed for content distribution on CDs. It can also be encoded onto DVDs for low-quality or high-capacity playback. MPEG-2 was the next step and is the standard for DVD-Video. It was also originally used for some over-the-air and satellite services. It can also be used for high-definition (HD), but lacks the efficiency and higher bit rates that MPEG-4 encoding handles. These “parts” within the respective MPEG specifications are important since different parts translate to different capabilities.

For example, MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (Advanced Video Coding) is known as part 10. AVC/H.264 is designed for high bit-rate Blu-ray content, but because of its range of bit rates and efficient encoding, it can also be essentially downsized and incorporated into Internet video distribution services. MP4 is in part 14 of MPEG-4. To be clear MP4, with its file extension of .mp4, is not an actual encoding format as is the case with H.264. MP4 is a “container” which can carry H.264 encoded material, along with other formats. Since the two are so closely related in MPEG-4 terminology, they are often incorrectly used interchangeably. H.264 also has an important tie-in to HTML5 with H.264 video and audio being directly embedded into a web page.


MP4 is destined to be with us for a long time and so are MP4 players. The MPEG-4 standard is still growing and improving, and with that, MP4 players will see continued expansion of their ability to deliver higher quality at less cost to more and more types of devices. If HTML5 and H.264 do become the predominant combination of web distribution for video and audio, we’ll see new products and services that will only continue to create a more media-rich interconnected world. In the meantime, MP4 players can be used to watch plenty of the video currently available online.

As always, if you have any questions about MP4 players just leave me a comment below.

{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

1 typing speed test February 28, 2012 at 10:08 am

Realplayer Converter no longer works, you now have to purchase Real Music or Real Player Plus in order to use that function. Tools!

2 Tom Volotta February 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

You are mistaken about RealPlayer Converter not working. I’ve used it extensively, and it performs just fine in the Free version of RealPlayer. No requirement to purchase RealPlayer Plus.

If you continue to have problems, try UNinstalling RealPlayer, then download and install Free RealPlayer. I also find it a good practice to do a system restart to clear out any odd states your machine may be in.


3 Disappointed April 30, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Tom – The new converter download first asks you if you want to upgrade. You can tell it ‘no thanks’. The next window that comes up offers you something called Superpass. You can’t bypass that window at all, unless you sign up. There’s no close, ‘no thanks’, whatever. If you X out of that window, converter closes. Useless download…

4 Tom Volotta May 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Where are you seeing this “new converter download?” RealPlayer Converter is an integrated part of RealPlayer, not an add-on module. RealDownloader IS a standalone, but I’m looking at the RealPlayer products page and just don’t see a separate “Converter.”

Even going directly to “SuperPass” I can get out of it anytime, and don’t see any reference to the converter download in the first place, let alone it closing.

When I look at RealPlayer Plus, I still don’t see any separate download for Converter. It’s already built into RP+.

Can you give me the URL where you’re seeing the separate ‘Converter’ download? I’ll see if there’s some hitch connecting it to SuperPass (which is a premium content service.)

Sorry you’re having the glitch.

5 GodGunsGutsGlory May 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I am having the same problem.

I used to convert videos all the time. But now it also goes to the upgrade page (mentions faster transfers, etc) then I can click NO THANKS and it goes to another page.

I once uninstalled and reinstalled.

Weird. But “disappointed” is not the only one I am afraid.

Also, unrelated… I hate how when FireFox does an upgrade, I loose the built in DOWNLOAD feature form realplayer until I reinstall real player. :-/

6 Tom Volotta May 2, 2012 at 10:02 am

I’m just not seeing the problem you’re describing when going to the RealPlayer Plus upgrade page and finding a button that says,”NO THANKS” then goes to another page. What page?

Are you somehow getting onto a download page that isn’t directly from

If you don’t want RP Plus, just click on the ‘Overview’ or ‘Features’ buttons on the RealPlayer Plus page, and that will take you back to the regular RealPlayer, which you can then download for free.

There’s a bit of info you need to fill in (name, address, billing, etc.) before the order can be filled for upgrading to Plus.

Can you give me some URLs that are specifically giving you these problems?

I’m looking on both Windows and Mac sides. No RP Plus for Mac though.

I think RP (or maybe just RP Plus) has recently (April 2012 – from November 2011) been upgraded. Maybe that’s causing some confusion?



RealPlayer Plus

Don’t know what to say about Firefox. They did have some quirks with version 10 recently, but version 11 apparently cleared those up. Maybe some it doesn’t like about RP making you re-install?

7 Timmmay May 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Is there a chance that some videos downloaded from youtube can’t be converted?

8 Tom Volotta May 16, 2012 at 10:23 am

Not that I know of. Once you’ve got the video on your machine, you should be able to convert to whatever device or format that’s supported. I doubt YouTube or whoever created the video is embedding code that would block conversion.

Can you be more specific? What is the format & codec of the downloaded video, and then, what is the device or format & codec you are targeting?

9 Timmmay May 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm

I was able to convert a video that gave me the same problems as described above to Windows Media but cannot convert it to h.264.

10 Tom Volotta May 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

So, you ARE able to convert a video from YouTube that had the same problem as your 7:33 pm comment above. You can convert to Windows Media, but not h.264 – right?

What are you trying to convert to? A smart phone, tablet, for use on a PC… ? Does that device support h.264?

Maybe it simply doesn’t.


11 Alex May 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Hi Tom,
I don’t exactly know, but I think that the converter problem described above is caused because you cn convert videos to SOME formats, but other formats are restricted to only the RP+ subscribers. So, you have to pay to be able to convert a video to ANY format. If you don’t pay, then there are only certain formats you can use and the others when you click on them will bring up the screen that asks you to upgrade.

12 Tom Volotta May 22, 2012 at 10:11 pm


Some confusing stuff going on here.

Here’s the link to a page showing a “few examples” of formats that can be converted by RealPlayer.

What I’m seeing that’s odd is MP4 has an * indicating RP+ is required to convert MP4 to another format. But when I test here, using plain vanilla RealPlayer, I can put MP4 files in the converter and turn them into MP3 Audio Only (or anything else that’s supported) with no problem. I’ve done that many times in the past also. Just going to a straight MP3 file, or converting an MP4 video to MP3 audio on an iPhone 4. Even adds it into iTunes automatically.

I’m not doing anything special.

See this listing of features showing RP and RP+ both checked to “Play all formats (universal media player).”

I can’t find anyplace on the RN site where there’s a list of extra file formats RealPlayer Plus can handle that RealPlayer can’t. The upgrade to Plus is mainly dealing with special added features like DVD Burning, Accelerated downloads and transfers.

There does seem to be a discrepancy in the supposed inability to convert MP4 unless you have RP Plus (which I don’t) and what’s listed on the first link above.

Will try to dig a little deeper into this with Tech Support.


13 Sabre May 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Tom, I am getting the same errors as the others above. But this is NOT from the upgrade page, when you are in the real player converter and select mp3 audio only and press start, you are prompted with a window to upgrade which you can say no thanks to. Then you get the superpass window which if you close that window you will then see that the conversion has not started.

14 Tom Volotta May 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm


Read my comments to Alex.

I’m in Real Player Converter right now, have done several tests, and simply don’t see issue with getting a prompt to upgrade. Not seeing any ‘No Thanks’ or anything. The Converter just does its thing and turns whatever into MP3.

Where I DO see this happening is if you click on the words “Upgrade To Accelerated Transfer” on top of RP Converter in the upper right. That DOES bring up URL to upgrade to RP+, and when you do click on “No Thanks” the SuperPass page comes up.

So, I’m seeing this upgrade/no thanks/superpass/non-start of the converter sequence you’re describing, but ONLY when clicking on “Upgrade To Accelerated Transfer” on the Converter, NOT when pressing the Start button.

BTW: When on the RP+ upgrade prompt page, and click ‘See all features’ there is “High Quality H.264 Encoding” listed. I’m not sure how much higher quality that is compared to the regular RealPlayer Converter being able to encode H.264 already.

Not sure I’m helping you out on this, but am just reporting what I doing and seeing.


15 Timmmay June 6, 2012 at 8:35 pm


I figured it out: the default ipod setting is “RealPlayer Plus h.264″. I picked Apple iPod in the ‘Convert to:’ button, then when the ‘Select a Device’ dialog opened I clicked the “details” button next to the Apple iPod. A new dialog opened with the first option being ‘Format’. I switched this from RealPlayer Plus h.264 to Apple h.264, clicked Ok (twice), clicked Start (back in the main RealPlayer Converter screen and it worked just fine.

So there you go, the Apple default is a RealPlayer Plus thing that prompts you for the upgrade.

16 Tom Volotta June 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

You are correct.

When using the free RealPlayer, selecting RealPlayer Plus H.264, and then clicking ‘Start” displays a prompt for a RP+ upgrade. When you click “No Thanks” that dialog disappears and a prompt for SuperPass come up. Click the “X” in the upper right to make that go away.

You can’t use RP+ setting in the RealPlayer Converter. You must be running RealPlayer Plus. That’s because the Converter is a part of primary application, RealPlayer or RealPlayer Plus.

I’m curious about what container file format RP+ H.264 is using. Apple’s published list of compatible formats doesn’t include any of the RealMedia formats. Yes, both use the H.264 codec, and Apple is using MP4 as the container file format, but I don’t know what format RP+ converter is using to transport H.264.

Will check with Support.

Thanks for getting back to us on this.


17 Tom Volotta June 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm

A FWIW follow up on the RP+ file format for h.264:

Just got off Live Chat with RP Support. RealPlayer Plus uses MP4 with H.264, the same as Apple.

If so, that still leaves the lingering question of why would there are both choices in RP+ for Apple products?

BTW: Live Chat works great. You can also email Support to get questions answered.


18 Shada June 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm


Like others, I am unable to convert any .flv to H.264 for iPod. It starts but never completes, the output file size remains zero ’0′ K for ever.

I have used this umpteen number of times on OS X 10.5.8 but now I am on 10.7.3.
Have already uninstalled RealPlayer+ .The current latest build is from 11/15/2011.

I can send a screenshot. Also, downloading from YouTube isalso a pain. I had to downgrade to lower qualoty for the file to get downloaded!

Please help…

19 Tom Volotta June 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I’m getting mixed results here.

Testing on my Intel Mac (OS X 10.6.8) of the most current versions of RealPlayer SP, RealPlayer Converter and RealPlayer Downloader.

NO problems downloading various resolutions from YouTube. However, not all the FLV files I run through the Converter to output H.264 get completed. Some do, some don’t. Haven’t figured out what the difference is between the successful ones and the failures.

I’m not aware there is a “RealPlayer+” for Mac. A typo? The only version I know of for Mac is called RealPlayer SP. The current build, version 12, was updated in November 2011. It is a few generations behind the current version 15 of RealPlayer and RealPlayer Plus for Windows. The Windows versions are much more advanced in several ways from Mac.

Don’t worry about a screenshot. I’m seeing some of what you are.

Given that this is only happening on Mac OS X 10.7.3, I’d point the finger at Lion. There are many instances of applications having problems with the change to OS X 10.7.

Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

Maybe there are some known issues RealPlayer Support can shed some light on.


20 Nadege kouadio June 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I have the free real player & I am unable to convert videos to iPod or iPhone format
The video format choice are realplayer plus h .264 or audio only. It does not give me the format choice of just apple h. 264 or real player h. 264.

Please help!


21 Tom Volotta June 24, 2012 at 11:56 am

Download and install Apple QuickTime. Apple H.264 will be included, and the Converter in free RealPlayer will work fine.


22 gabriel August 4, 2012 at 10:11 am

i have downloaded real player before an it worked fine i did a system backup an it deleted off my computer, i downloaded it again and enabled it in my tools but when its installed on my computer the download tab at the the top right coner is not there almost like i dont have realplayer. i keep getting realplayer network an not the actual realplayer
i need help

23 Tom Volotta August 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Reading your problem occurred after a “system backup” always raises a red flag about that being the source of the trouble. Did you actually try to back up the Operating System itself? Were any other applications deleted?

I don’t have an answer for why the “Download This Video” button is not appearing for those videos that are authorized to be downloaded from whatever site(s.) Also, not sure what you mean by “enabled it in my tools” and “I keep getting RealPlayer Network and not the actual RealPlayer. Are you clicking on something during the video playback that takes you to the main RealNetworks website, or RealPlayer Support or what?

You didn’t say which browser you’re using, but if it’s Firefox, make sure it is version 11.0 or newer, and check to see the RealPlayer plug-in is installed.

Given that I think something blew out during they system backup, here’s what I would do:

1. Open the Windows Control Panel/Programs
2. UNinstall RealPlayer, and any other Real applications (e.g. RealDownloader) or “Real” files/packages that might be listed under “Programs and Features.”
3. SHUTDOWN the computer.
4. Start it up.
5. Open and point your browser to
6. Download the Free RealPlayer, and then install it.

See if the “Download This Video” button works properly now on whatever video website you were having trouble with. Check some others too. If DTV still doesn’t work, go here: and chose one or all of the browsers to get additional information that may help:

If you’re still having problems ONLY with RealPlayer, contact RealPlayer customer support:

If you’re having trouble with other applications or the computer seems off in some other way, start digging into the Windows troubleshooting tools.


24 E Spell August 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm

The converter works. It is better to use the converter with Firefox to change a video to MP3 format. I am enjoying it. :-)

25 Tom Volotta August 5, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Are you saying the RealPlayer Converter does a better job converting video to MP3 when the video is downloaded via Firefox? I don’t get why that matters. Am I misunderstanding your comment?


26 Kenny G August 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm

This thread seems to have gone in two directions: 1) problems involving and upgrade and 2) RP+ issues.
The 1st problem seems to still be out there. When converting the video to another format (in my case and android), I get a pop up to upgrade, when I press start, and when “x” out the popups, it takes me back to the converter and does not start the conversion. Help…

27 Tom Volotta August 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Right, this has come up several times. Android isn’t a factor.

I assume you’re using the free RealPlayer. RealPlayer PLAYS MP4/H.264, but it does NOT convert it. Attempting such a conversion automatically prompts an upgrade to RealPlayer Plus, which DOES MP4 conversions fine. Read the RealPlayer Converter page and notice the * next to .mp4. Just below, you’ll see the notice saying RealPlayer Plus is required.

The simple workaround I suggest is to download install QuickTime for Windows. QT’s MP4/H.264 codec can be read by RealPlayer.

Let me know what happens.


28 Margot August 14, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I had similar problems with the converyter a while back, even though I had kept up to speed on current versions of RP+. Turns out, I had to uninstall it and reinstall an older version of it. Problem cleared up. At this point, the new problem that has just appeared with the converter is, it up and quits during coversion. A reinstall might be the best solution in any case.

As for the popup not working on Firefox every time they do an upgrade, there are lots of solutions out there, but I got around it by simply not using Firefox. Punkt.

29 Tom Volotta August 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Sounds like going back to a previous version of RP+ isn’t helping much if the Converter quits. I’d use the current version, unless you KNOW there’s a bug. Are you seeing any patterns of common elements? Certain file formats not working, problems transferring to particular devices?

Firefox and RealPlayer have had their conflicts. The routine seems to be that if you upgrade either Firefox or RP, be sure to reinstall the RealPlayer Plug-in. Not a scientific analysis, just a routine I’ve used to help avoid trouble. Firefox 10 did have compatibility problems that were corrected with version 11.

Let me know how things go.


30 Kevin October 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I’m having problems with adding songs onto my iPhone 4. I’ve successfully converted my 50+ files into mp3 format and after completion, they were transferred to my iTunes. Now, after I’ve clicked and dragged one of the music files and supposedly “added” the song onto my iPhone, it doesn’t play. Basically, when I click on my iPhone on the left panel in my iTunes, I look for the song and it shows up feint and unable to play. Wasn’t the file saved during conversion to a file on my PC? (fyi I had previously selected the option for the player to save files under “My Music”). Can someone assist?

31 Tom Volotta October 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Something similar here, only I’m not even able to see the songs on the iPhone. I’m on a Mac, running a dual-boot system here, and thought that might be complicating things. Started straight from BootCamp, so it was 64-bit Windows 7 Pro all the way. Like you, I could do the conversions (MP4 video to MP3 audio) just fine, got the prompt to add to my iTunes Library, but was never able to even find them in iTunes. Couldn’t even see, let alone drag a song from the Library into the iPhone. Grayed-out like you’re describing sometimes has something to do with machine authorization, entering ID and PW, but these don’t sound like content you’re purchasing from the iTunes store.

I was able to track the converted songs down through “My Music” folder, and could play them there, but through the computer, not the iPhone 4.

I’ve done this successfully dozens of times, but am at a loss as to why it’s not working now. I do have to be a little careful with the Windows side of things wanting to sync up with my iPhone. Not ready for that disaster, as everything is tied to the Mac.

I’m not saying this is the problem, but Apple just upgraded iTunes to version 10.7 for both Mac and Windows. I’m always suspicious of a change, and then troubles cropping up. Again, not saying 10.7 is the cause. I’m still running Snow Leopard, so it’s possible iTunes 10.7 is made for Lion. I know the recent release of iOS6 caused all kinds of grief. App updates pouring in by the minute. Maybe pilot error somewhere on both our sides. I’ll look into it if I can find the time over the weekend, but I have some other obligations. Sorry I can’t be of more help now.


32 irena December 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

hi just read some of the questions being asked here and im having the same problem in trying to play a video in h264 format…real player keeps flicking up i have to pay to watch it…is this right?? i tried downloading a h264 codec which hasnt helped one bit either…any suggestions please would help….thanks

33 Tom Volotta December 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm


Just to start fresh, UNinstall whatever version of RealPlayer and any other RealPlayer applications, along with the H.264 codec you downloaded. Restart the computer. Download and install the new RealPlayer 16. Just click on the orange RealPlayer download button at the upper right of this page.

See if that works for you. You didn’t mention the file format, e.g., MP4, FLV or others you are trying to play. The H.264 codec is not a “format” in the strict sense of the word for digital video. It is a type of compression/decompression algorithm that can ride inside MP4, FLV and other “formats.”

Here’s a list of RealPlayer 16 and RealPlayer Plus 16 Media Types (formats) supported. Although the H.264 codec is not listed (nor are any other codecs), the MP4 format is, and typically uses H.264. You should be able to PLAY a format using H.264 with the free RealPlayer. If there’s a snag, download and install QuickTime for Windows. That should work. You’ll even be able to Convert To and From video using H.264. I do it all the time with the above configuration.

Please get back to me on whether this solves your problem or not. There can be some confusing issues regarding MP4/H.264 and RealPlayer vs. RealPlayer Plus. This PlayPack Feature Overview leads one to think only the Plus version can play H.264. Regardless, there are a number of nice new features in RP 16 you can take advantage of.


34 Wyatt December 17, 2012 at 9:51 am

I adore your website beginning from how you use colors and design your theme.
Is this something you have made all on your own?
I hope you can answer me back since I am considering developing my own site.
I’d like to know your source (theme) so I could use it also. Thanks a lot!

35 Tom Volotta December 17, 2012 at 10:33 am


Thank you for the compliments. Everything was custom-made by the RealPlayer Blog team. I’m sure they appreciate your kind words. I personally had nothing to do with the design.


36 December 24, 2012 at 10:53 am

I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.

37 Laura January 11, 2013 at 7:03 am

I downloaded the new version of Realplay yesterday but when I play my MP4 songs with it ,it breaks the song up…keeps on stopping for a second and then play the rest of the song ,stop for a second then play again…Its like it has to keep downloading bit by bits of the song first and then play that bit…..My MP3 files play perfectly smooth…..How can I correct this problem

38 Tom Volotta January 11, 2013 at 11:05 am


A couple of things:

As efficient as MP4 is, it does require more computer horsepower to decode and play. MP3 is very lightweight.
Given that, you should check to see what other applications may be running while playing the MP4. Depending on that, RAM, speed and interface of your HDD, or a piece of hardware connected that could simply be pushing the performance capabilities of your computer too hard.

Those are the standard answers to your problem. If the stuttering continues, dig a little deeper into the RealPlayer Preferences to see if you have things set for maximum quality playback or other setting had eat up resources within the application or overall system. If none of the above does the fix, the next possible remedy would be to do a complete UNinstall of ALL RealPlayer software, old and new. Restart the computer, and then do a fresh install of RP 16.

BTW: If you are light on RAM, get as much as the computer can address, and/or you can afford. RAM is the best, cheapest and simplest way to improve performance.


39 January 18, 2013 at 10:20 am

I think this article , “MP4 Players – All About MP4s
— RealPlayer”, fairly compelling and also the blog post was a good read.
Thanks a lot-Terese

40 Tom Volotta January 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm

You’re welcome, Terese. Always nice to hear the posts are helpful.


41 Sandra February 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Very informative article. I’m wondering if you can help me out. Can you tell me how to download youtube videos to my mp4 player?

42 Tom Volotta February 28, 2013 at 4:24 pm


Downloading YouTube videos is simple with RealPlayer. Whether they are MP4 or not is a different issue that you have no control over. Either MP4 is available or it’s not. Whether you can choose is yet another matter.

RealPlayer includes RealPlayer Downloader, which makes it simple to download any video from any website that allows it. Just hover the cursor in the video frame, if it can be downloaded, a “Download This Video” prompt will appear in the upper right of the video. Just click that button, and you’ll see the Downloader application open, and watch the progress of the download. When finished, the video is automatically placed in the RealPlayer Library for you to select and play. This works just fine on YouTube.

– If the native format is something other than MP4, say Flash (FLV), you can use the RealPlayer Converter to change it to a generic MP4, or to a specific hardware device that requires MP4. Either can have details for quality and resolution customized. RealPlayer Plus has this feature built-in, but the free version does not. The work-around recommended by RealPlayer Support is to download and install QuickTime for Windows. You’ll then be able to play and convert to and from MP4 with the free RealPlayer.

Here’s where I’m not positive on part of your question: “…my MP4 player?” Do you mean a hardware device like an iPod or a software media player other than RealPlayer?

– If you are transferring to a physical device that plays MP4 files, just connect it to your computer, make sure they recognize each other, and move the MP4 file from the computer to the device in whatever method required by that device. For example, transferring media to Apple products must go through the iTunes Library. If you are using RealPlayer Converter to transfer MP4 to an Apple device, there will be a specific prompt asking if you want the file sent to the iTunes Library. Yes, you do.

– If you’re referring to playing the MP4 in a third-party software media player on the same machine, the MP4 file can be read by the other player in its current location, or if necessary, imported into the other player’s library.


43 L March 16, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I just bought a phillips mp4 player but it is locked…and i cant figure out the code??? Is there a way to factory reset it or something?

44 RealPlayer April 2, 2013 at 11:24 am

Check with Phillips customer support. They should be able to help.

45 Geoff April 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Kinda getting annoyed at this one. Realplayer will download MP4′s from the web just fine but when I try and play them in the RealPlayer it just gives me a black video and no sound for the duration. What the hell happened>

46 RealPlayer Team April 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Hi Geoff,

RealPlayer requires h264 encoders to either play/convert .mp4 files. Hence installing Itunes/QuickTime will enable the necessary codec for RealPlayer to play/convert .mp4 files.



If that doesn’t work, send an email to so that we can help you further.

47 Angela April 14, 2013 at 6:53 am

My realplayer downloader is now downloading videos int mp4. I did not have anything to do with this and dont know how to change it. When I try to convert to wma an error occurs. I have the free edition of realplayer and cannot get help without haveing the realplayer 16. Is there anybody out there that can help me out PLEASE?

48 RealPlayer Team April 14, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hi Angela,

Please send an email to Include a brief description of the issue, and copy and paste the link to this thread within the email for further assistance.

49 Mandy May 10, 2013 at 9:18 am

Downloaded your player. Supposed to be mp4. What a lie. Hardly plays mp3 let alone mp4. And you want people to purchase an upgrade? I don’t think so.

50 RealPlayer Team May 10, 2013 at 9:53 am

Hi Mandy,

Our technical team is aware of this issue and currently working on it. However, try the troubleshooting steps provided in this link:

If there is anything else we can help with, please send an email to

51 evon May 11, 2013 at 6:00 am

The strange thing about this mp4 problem is that Firefox has an extension called the Flash Video Downloader 3.8.7 which allows downloading videos including mp4 videos. It works for me every time but you have to use that extension not the RealPlayer plug-in. In other words, in FireFox for an mp4 video just ignore the RP Download Video pop-up and look for the added download (down arrow) icon on the toolbar if you have the 3.8.7 extension installed. That works for me flawlessly. The downloaded file is playable with any player including the free version of RP. Perhaps Real cold look at the FireFox source code since it’s open-source and see how they do it and fix it in the free version of RP.

52 RealPlayer Team May 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Hi Evon,

Please send an email to, include a brief description of the issue, copy and paste the link to this thread within the email for further assistance.

53 Patrick May 26, 2013 at 12:13 pm


Good review. Could you help me with an issue concerning an mp4 player I just purchased? I got a “generic” (no brand visible) on ebay. The instructions were next to non-existent, but I have figured out most of the functions. What I can’t get is how to play videos when the unit is solo – not plugged into a computer USB. I have downloaded several videos in mp4 onto it (using YouTube Downloader website), and they play at home on my hi-def TV thru the USB cord, but I can’t figure how to access the video files without the TV or computer! When I go to “My Computer” on Windows 7, I see the files listed, but when the unit is solo, I go to “Movies” menu, and it lists only the sample that came with the unit. What do you think I am missing? Thanks.

54 RealPlayer May 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm

It sounds like you might need to try other menus on the device and that you might access the movies on the device in a different folder. It’s really hard to say how to fix the situation unless you have a model number. If you can find that, you’ll be able to find a manual online. Hope that helps.

55 Chris May 26, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Is it something on my RP that I can be able to download .mp4 from youtube(RP Downloader) but not able to convert videos(RP Converter) for my Ipod (Apple h.264)? It will say error

56 RealPlayer Team May 27, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Hi Chris,

Sorry for the inconvenience, this is due to changes made at YouTube and we are working with YouTube to resolve the issue.

57 Belligerent May 31, 2013 at 10:34 pm

“Sorry for the inconvenience, this is due to changes made at YouTube and we are working with YouTube to resolve the issue.”

Any update on when this will be resolved?


58 RealPlayer Team June 1, 2013 at 8:23 am

Hi Belligerent,

Our technical team is working on this issue and it will be resolved at the earliest.

If you have additional questions, email us at

59 Sagar June 7, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Did you find solution on this?

60 RealPlayer Team June 8, 2013 at 9:19 am

Hi Sagar,

Sorry for the inconvenience, this is due to changes made at YouTube and we are working with YouTube to resolve the issue. However, here are some steps we think might fix the issue.

Workaround steps for Internet Explorer

1. Open Internet Explorer
2. Click on Tools
3. Go to Manage Add-ons
4. Disable Shockwave Flash Object
5. Close & reopen Internet Explorer
6. Go to and play the video you want to download
7. It will prompt to ‘Upgrade Adobe Flash Player’ (Ignore this message)
8. Attempt to download. Now files should get downloaded and are playable

Please be informed that we have already tested these steps with few customers and it worked on their computers. Even after disabling the Shockwave Flash Object plug-in, the YouTube videos are playing in Internet Explorer. If the videos doesn’t play, kindly enable the plugin and wait for our team to find a permanent fix for this issue.

If that doesn’t work, send an email to so that we can help you further.

61 Anonymous June 16, 2013 at 8:10 am

the mp4 i download was not talking.why?

62 RealPlayer Team June 16, 2013 at 10:45 am


sorry for the inconvenience, this is due to changes made at YouTube and we are working with YouTube to resolve the issue.

However, try few work around steps provided in this link to fix this issue:

If that doesn’t help, send an email to to assist you better.

63 Woody June 24, 2013 at 9:44 am

All most every video I download will not play very upsetting I paid for this realone 15plus.
Could you tell me what the problem leave a phone no. or better yet fix this problem please!!!!!


64 RealPlayer Team June 24, 2013 at 11:10 am

Hi Woody,

This is due to changes made at YouTube and we are working with YouTube to resolve the issue. However, try few work around steps provided in this link to fix the issue:

If you have additional questions, email us at

65 moshe yaakov June 26, 2013 at 2:51 am

I cannot download mp4 formates. It seems they were uploaded but they could not be opened and the downloadung is too fast to be true. Can upgrade to realplayer pluse will solve the problem?

66 RealPlayer Team June 26, 2013 at 7:01 am

Hi Moshe,

This is due to changes made at YouTube and we are working with YouTube to resolve the issue. However, try few workaround steps provided in this link to fix the issue:

67 Sandy July 16, 2013 at 11:26 am

Hi! I have been using Realplayer for many years.
Recently, I noticed I cannot download mp4 formats. The files are uploaded but they could not be opened.
I had upgraded to the realplayer plus 16, but the file still can’t open. Please let me know if there’s something I missing? Thank you!!

68 RealPlayer Team July 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Hi Sandy,

Please provide us some more information about the problem to assist you further.

69 Jesse July 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I have been using real player to convert Youtube videos and send them directly to my Itunes for almost a year now. Today, I finally installed the RP update that it has been prompting me to download for some time. But since then, I have been unable to convert any of the long list of videos I just downloaded in any way shape or form. RP library says that these videos are MP4, which I assume is true, and I was under the impression Itunes uses MP3, but regardless the default Ipod “Convert To:” (Apple h.264) gives me an instant error message and a “Conversion Complete” message detailing the fact that 0 of 13 of my videos were actually converted and there were 13 errors. Underneath the name of the video in the conversion box it also reads “Unable to convert: NAME OF VIDEO”. The video does not even try to convert after clicking start, but instead gives this instant error message with no information as to why.

I tried updating my Quicktime, which didnt seem to help, and I tried making my own custom “Convert To:” with both “Audio Only” and MP3. I also changed the details of the default Ipod settings from Apple h.264 to Audio only and even tried changing the default ACC format to MP3, none of which worked. I assume this has something to do with Youtube making some changes to the format of their videos, but would like that confirmed if possible and hopefully I can be directed as to how to fix this myself or when it will work again.

I do remember that, before I downloaded this most recent update, after the downloader finished downloading a video it stored it in the Videos section on my computer in a folder called “RealDownloader” as FLASH VIDEOS, but now it is saving those videos in a folder called RealPlayer Downloads, and they are all MP4. Before, when I clicked the “View Downloads” button in the window, it merely opened the “RealDownloader” folder, and I was able to drag and drop the videos from that folder into my RP Library. From that point I would convert the videos for compatibility with Itunes.

Not sure if its obvious but I’ve been doing further research while typing this. Long story short, the Youtube videos I downloaded in the past are saved in one folder as FLASH VIDEOS and the videos I downloaded since the update are saved in a separate folder as MP4s. Another key not I forgot to mention, None of these most recently downloaded videos will play with Quicktime. I know the comments above state that such videos are due to a change from Youtube, but I was unsure if I was having the some problem.

Sorry for the Length, Thank you to anyone with information.

70 RealPlayer Team July 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Hi Jesse,

YouTube and other sites have introduced a new streaming standard. We are working on an update to RealPlayer that will allow for this new format. In the meantime, you can try the temporary solution provided in this link (if you are using Internet Explorer):

71 Also Stumped July 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I tried the solution in the article referenced by RealPlayer Team on 7/18 at 6:59, and when I disable the Shockwave Flash Object, even though the video does play, the download link for Real Downloader does not appear when I hover in the upper right corner. Any way to solve this? Thanks!

72 RealPlayer Team July 29, 2013 at 11:44 am

Enable the RealPlayer plug-in in your browser by following:

73 George August 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I can’t get RealPlayer to download and play MP4. I’m a teacher — I like to download YouTube clips and show them to my classes. When the clips download as flv files, then I have no problem. More and more, though, the clips are MP4 files. When I click on the RealPlayer bar to download, they download. But then they won’t play. If I try to play them with RealPlayer, nothing appears in the screen. If I try to play them using something else (Windows Media), I get error messages. I’ve uninstalled and re-installed RealPlayer so many times I’ve lost count, but I get the same problem every time. I would be willing to pay the $50 for RealPlayer Plus, but there’s a serious trust issue — RealPlayer claims that its free player will download and play MP4, but since that claim isn’t true (at least not for me) then why should I risk $50 to find out whether the claims about RealPlayer Plus are true. Any suggestions? School starts in 3 weeks, and I need to find a way to show the MP4 clips by then. It seems like RealPlayer is not the answer.

74 RealPlayer Team August 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Let me inform you, YouTube and other sites have introduced a new streaming standard. Essentially, the files that are being downloaded are not actually MP4s but a new streaming format that is being misidentified as MP4. We are working toward compatibility with this new format and expect to release a fix in mid-August.

75 Mitch August 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I am having the same problem as everyone else W/ the aborted You-Tube MP4 format. I am able to play the files using “Free File Player”, but I get video only, no sound. Your team of geeks might just look into how they do it, since they don’t seem to be having much luck on their own.

76 RealPlayer Team August 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Thank you for taking the time to share your comments with us. I have forwarded your feedback to the appropriate team. Your insights and opinions will help us in our ongoing efforts to enhance our products and services.

If you would like to suggest any other improvements to RealPlayer, please send future suggestions to

77 Sam August 24, 2013 at 4:59 am

When RealPlayer “forces” users of the supposedly-free REALPLAYER 16, by going to–when the NoThanks link or the X in the box is checked, they may be doing something illegal. This borders on ransomware or spyware that holds your data hostage, till you pay $79.99 or some such figure.
By not providing a true opt-out link or button, the company is risking a class-action anti-trust lawsuit. Customer service should run this by their legal dept.

warm regards

78 RealPlayer Team August 28, 2013 at 9:18 am

Your post raises concerns for us. RealNetworks doesn’t direct potential consumers to We offer a free download of RealPlayer 16 at “” directly. However, other partners/sites can also offer RealPlayer 16 but our expectation is that any site or partner would offer a No thanks or X to opt-in or opt-out, as one would expect. It is not our practice to force anyone to purchase our products or services. It may be a situation where you received a Trial Pay offer as an option to get our product or service for free or at a discount, in exchange for trying one of their service offerings. I’ve shared your feedback. In the meantime, please send an email to with details about exactly what happened. What site you were on, what selections you made, etc. That way we can better understand what happened and make sure that our products and services are presented in a manner consistent with our policies. Thanks for bringing your concern to our attention. I hope you’ll follow-up so we can as well.

79 Orville Redenbacher August 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I see what now appears to be a resolution to this issue. Using RealPlayer v16.0.0.x to “Check for Update” today bumped me up to v16.0.3.51. A quick test of at least one fresh MP4 downloaded from YouTube appears to play back just fine. Thanks!

However, I have a lingering question that others will enjoy, too. I have downloaded numerous MP4′s over the past several months before I realized there was an issue playing them back. If they were not true MP4′s, then exactly what WAS being downloaded? Could I change the “MP4″ extension to something else, then play them back successfully? For instance, VLC has a number of available input methods and transcoding options that perhaps could be used to convert to a playable format.

80 RealPlayer Team August 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm

A compatibility issue was preventing some .mp4 files from playing in RealPlayer. Essentially, the files that are being downloaded are not actually MP4s but a new streaming format that was being misidentified as MP4.

Please try to re-download the previously downloaded videos which got the ‘General Error’ message and play it using RealPlayer.

81 Moses Nguyen August 27, 2013 at 8:48 am

At times, Realplayer records a video in flash format, and then plays back just fine. However, sometimes Realplayer records in Mpeg-4 format, and cannot play back.

82 RealPlayer Team August 27, 2013 at 9:05 am

Try to update RealPlayer by following this link: then enable the RealPlayer plug-in in your browser: After that try to re-download the videos. This should resolve the problem.

If the issue still persists, please send an email to, include a brief description of the issue, copy and paste the link to this thread within the email for further assistance.

83 Bhogeswara Rao Chitta August 27, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I have had the latest free version of realplayer downloader on my computer. Besides this, I also have got the quicktime player (apple version) downloaded. For a few days this went well. Now the my attempts to download MP4 video clippings through realplayer downloader afresh from youtube can not be opened. I seek suitable suggestion in this matter. Thanking you.

84 RealPlayer Team August 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

This issue has been fixed in the latest build of RealPlayer 16, released on August 21.

Please open RealPlayer, click the RealPlayer logo in the upper left, and select Check for Update. You will then be able to update your RealPlayer to the newest build.

Please note that you may need to re-enable the RealDownloader extension in your web browser as well by following this link:

After updating RealPlayer, please re-download the videos that previously received the “General Error” message.

85 Orville Redenbacher August 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

So are you saying we MUST start over, downloading files from the past several months all over again using the Aug 21 release? Would it be IMPOSSIBLE to convert files downloaded before by some tool like VLC? Such programs have a number of available input methods and transcoding options. Is there some H.264 or WebP content that can be recovered from the earlier downloads?

86 RealPlayer Team August 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Sorry for the trouble, unfortunately no tool can help you to recover those videos. You have to redownload the videos using RealDownloader.

87 Orville Redenbacher August 29, 2013 at 8:35 am

Well, despite having to redownload earlier MP4′s, I would like to say THANK YOU for your efforts to resolve the MP4 troubles. I’ve download MP4′s fine with my RP update v16.0.3.51. Only wrinkle is one time a YouTube download appeared to result in an SWF that was small and unplayable. Only have seen this once and don’t know if I did something different.

Thanks again for the MP4 fix!
Win7 Enterprise, SP1 (64-bit) / IE8 (64-bit)

88 RealPlayer Team August 29, 2013 at 9:18 am

I am glad to hear that the .mp4 issue has been resolved. It seems that it might be a problem with that particular videos. In that case, I suggest you to download some other video and try to play it. If the issue still persists, please send an email to, include a brief description of the issue, copy and paste the link to this thread within the email for further assistance.

89 zhizan September 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Hi Tom,

I am having exactly the same problem as did Mr. George (comment #73, 4th August 2013) and many others. I felt relieved as it was just a compatibility issue with YouTube videos rather than the malfunction of my RP.

But now, i haven’t updated it to the latest version yet. I wonder how the latest RP build would be like…i mean, is it simpler and more user-friendly? I wanna try it but i kinda feel worried a little bit. Is updating to the latest version the only solution right now? Anyway, thank you for all your efforts to resolve this issue.

90 RealPlayer Team September 10, 2013 at 10:50 am

We haven’t made any changes on the interface of the RealPlayer. We have only updated the RealPlayer Plug-in and also added some necessary codecs to play/convert .MP4 files.

To update RealPlayer

>Please open RealPlayer
>Click the RealPlayer logo in the upper left
>Select Check for Update.

You will then be able to update your RealPlayer to the newest build.

91 zhizan September 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Well, I did so afterwards…even before I had read your reply.

I think the newest build contains more ads and I prefer the previous one.

But there are breakthroughs though. the download this video button appears in firefox v22 web browser. it’s not like that before this (the button would only appear in chrome). Best of all, the mp4 videos I downloaded from YouTube can now play in RP. Very happy about it, so thank you so much Mr. Tom and the RP Team.

92 mrj September 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Like so many others on so many blogs, I am very pleased that after many months, you have finally resolved the issue of downloading MP4s correctly from Youtube so they can be played. However…

…like so many others on so many blogs, it is most dissappointing to see another problem crop up with Realplayer, that of not being able to convert MP4 to MP3 with Realplayer Converter, without the need to download QuickTime or iTunes software. I have no interest in nor reason to use these programs apart from solving the Realplayer Converter fault.

Would you kindly advise whether you are going to fix Realplayer Converter so it correctly converts MP4 files by itself please, and if so when do you expect this to be fixed? It’s now time to make a decision as to whether uninstall Realplayer and move to an easy solution such as VLC which doesn’t have any of the ongoing problems Realplayer has. Thanks.

93 RealPlayer Team September 15, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Thank you for taking the time to share your comments with us. I have forwarded your feedback to the appropriate team. Your insights and opinions will help us in our ongoing efforts to enhance our products and services.

If you would like to suggest any other improvements to RealPlayer, please send future suggestions to

94 brian October 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm

oh and btw – i cant even load this on my computer – gets to the last stage then quits. and yes i install as administrator.
again – crap

95 RealPlayer Team October 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Before I can help you, I will need some more information.

Could you please be more specific about the problem you are having? Please describe exactly what it is that you are trying to do and include any error messages that you may receive. It can also be helpful to include what your computer’s operating system is and what web browser you’re using.

The more specific you are, the better I will be able to assist you.

96 brian October 30, 2013 at 2:32 am

will have to wait – im catching a plane. but as an aside i have over the past year tried to install this about a dozen times. i can load the downloader but not the program to play what i had just downloaded.

97 RealPlayer Team October 30, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Sorry you can’t play videos! Please provide us some more information:

1. What is the video format? (MP4 or FLV)
2. Do you get any error messages?
3. Are you using latest version of RealPlayer?

The more specific you are, the better we will be able to assist you.

98 MILLARD April 23, 2014 at 2:07 am

I have w7 64 bit with geo 850b capture card . It saves as a special h264 codec the program has the codes and w media player will play I have 4 monitors for 4 different video feeds into computer. I was wanting to play 2 different captured videos on 2 different screens. will the real player play one video while windows player plays the other please email me if you can as I am not too good at finding web sites

99 RealPlayer Team April 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm

By default, RealPlayer can play RealAudio, RealVideo, and MPEG files. For a list of supported file types, visit the Media Types page in RealPlayer Help.

It can also play other media types if the appropriate plug-ins and codecs (compression/decompression systems) are installed.

However, RealPlayer cannot play files that your computer does not recognize. To install the codecs required for your system to recognize other types of files, download and install the media player or its codec package that was originally designed to play back that media.

To install these free codecs for your system, choose one from the following list of media players with commonly-used codecs:

QuickTime Player: Visit Apple’s QuickTime site to download.

Combined Community Codec Pack: To play MKV files, download the Combined Community Codec Pack.

DivX codec: Download the DivX Plus Codec Pack.

If you have additional questions, please send an email to

100 Tom June 2, 2014 at 5:09 pm

just down loader realplayer. Need simple instructions on how to use this system. I am new at this type of activity. Thanks

101 Brinton Felixraja June 3, 2014 at 12:14 am

Happy to help you with that.

If RealPlayer Cloud is installed, sign in to get 2 GB of Cloud storage. When you share, upload and add a device you get 250 MB additional cloud space.

Make sure to enable the RealDowloader plugin to download videos. To do so, follow this link:

Once it is done, restart the browser and when you watch any online videos, the Download This Video button appears to download. You can try with RealPlayer browser too. Here’s how:

1. Open RealPlayer.
2. Click on RealPlayer Logo.
3. Go to File.
4. Then select New and then New Web Browser.
5. Type the URL of the website ( like ) and select a video.
6. If ‘Download This Video’ button is not enabled, make a right click and then select ‘Download This video’ option. It should download the video.

To know more about the features and working of RealPlayer Cloud, visit the below link :

Hope this helps!

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