I have a 320GB external hard drive full of various movies, ranging in formats from MP4, MKV, and AVIs with MP3 audio to AVIs with AAC audio.

Will the Pi be able to play all these types out-of-the-box with a high success rate? If not, can I install software that will play them?

Eventually, I'm hoping to get 2 of them, set them up the same way and use them for the kids movies.


4 Answers 4


The Raspberry Pi has H.264 hardware acceleration. It also has hardware acceleration for VC-1 and MPEG-2 available after purchasing a separate licence. The H.264 acceleration comes for free, with newer pi's.

This allows media players which are capable of using hardware acceleration to easily play videos. Currently, omxplayer and OpenELEC support such acceleration.

With the correct software taking advantage of the correct hardware, your Raspberry Pi will be quite capable of video plaback.


That's pretty much what I got mine for, and it's worked pretty well for me...although you have to get the right video player. I've been using omxplayer, and the only problems I've had are that fast forward/rewind seems to 'jump' several minutes per keystroke (there's probably a way around that I haven't found yet) and subtitles in the (Advanced?) SubStation Alpha format don't work quite right.

Also, I've only tried MKV and MP4 files, but they work perfectly, so I doubt the others will be much of a problem.


I have had run my Raspberry Pi on my movie collection for days without a single hickup, and there were really many NTSC/PAL, SD/HD, MP3/AAC encoded movies in every possible combination. Please don't worry, RasPi can handle most of the things your might throw at it.

On the other hand, if you plan to play DVD copies (not recompressed to another formats), I'd recommend to spend another $2-3 and buy MP2 video licence from raspberrypi.org, this is required for accelerated DVD images playback.

The only thing I dearly miss from Raspberry Pi is the accelerated playback at 1.2x-1.5x speed, it really helps to skim through boring stuff and save plenty of time.

  • Note that this should say MPEG-2, not MP2. MP2 is usually used to refer to MPEG Audio Layer 2, which is the audio format some (but not all or even most) DVDs are in. The Pi is more than capable of decoding MP2 without hardware acceleration. MPEG-2, not so much.
    – Jules
    Mar 25, 2016 at 15:21

So what I have found is that the OMXplayer on the Pi 3 will play .MP4 .MOV .AVI movies and videos but not .WMV .MOD but I haven't actually put a serious look into a solution yet to the last two. All movies stream flawlessly so far but they were under 5 minutes each, so . . . . .

  • I guess I should note the full process for the newbies like me. So my movies were on a micro SD card that was installed into a USB device that was installed into one of the USB outlets on the Raspberry pi. To access the content I used the File manager/go/devices in order to locate my usb drive. Then from there i just ran through the directors on my drive as usual to find the video that i wanted to play, which I "right-clicked" on in order to come up with an "open with . . . " selection which i clicked on as well. Select the "custom command line" tab and enter "omxplayer" and "ok" to watch.
    – Ron
    Dec 1, 2016 at 4:26
  • Please edit your answer and include all the relevant information. Comments on StackExchange are reserved for comments, not for extending posts (especially by the author).
    – techraf
    Dec 1, 2016 at 4:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.