How Do I Open MKV Files

Wondering "How do I open MKV files?" MKV is a popular multimedia file container, but it takes the right software to open these file types.

What type of file is MKV?
If you don't already know, MKV isn't a data file format; it's a multimedia file format. MKV is a container file, like AVI or MP4, that typically contains video, audio and occasionally subtitles. MKV is a Matroska file format, and it requires the right combination of software and add-ons to open it.

You need the right program to open MKV files.
When you play with enough video, you'll run into MKV files. MKV is a common file type, and many software developers have the foresight to create software capable of opening it. Many popular video players open MKV files, including Windows Media Player, Apple Quick Time Player and a host of others. Unfortunately, it's not enough to be able to open MKV files; without the right codecs installed, you can't view them.

Codecs, and why you need them.
MKV is a common container for multimedia files. It's most common in video files that include subtitles, as MKV supports multiple audio tracks and subtitles. However, having the right software to open MKV files doesn't guarantee you can watch them. Instead, you also need the right add-ons to translate the data properly.

Data is typically encoded before it goes into the MKV container. When you try to open it with a video player that supports MKV playback, you may miss part of the data, or it may not work at all without the proper component to decode the encoding. Codecs are the components that tell your video player how to translate the file data contained inside the MKV wrapper and ultimately play it back on your computer.

How to convert file formats to avoid the codec problem.
If you don't want to worry about codecs at all, you can use software to convert the file format to a different multimedia file to bypass the question of the MKV format altogether. With a file format converter, you don't have to have video player software that supports MKV, and you don't need to know how to install codecs. However, software to convert file formats from MKV to other popular formats typically isn't free, so it's definitely more cost-effective to bite the bullet and install codec packages.

Some video players are more powerful than others.
Because MKV files are multimedia files, many video players can open them. However, some video players are more powerful than others. With the right video player, you don't need to convert file formats in order to play; you can simply open the MKV file without worrying about installing codecs or whether or not your player supports MKV at all. The most popular of these video players is VideoLan, or VLC. This is a great option if you're new to advanced video playback or installing and managing codecs.

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