Troubleshooting Your Windows Media Player

In this age of digital media, you want the software you rely on to work seamlessly, as well as flawlessly.

Perhaps you’re trying to watch a movie or editing a video. You may be creating a playlist or burning something you’ve been working on to DVD. Whatever the project, there are many choices out there when it comes to media players for Windows.

To be honest, Windows Media Player (WMP) isn’t exactly what you’d consider cutting edge by today’s standards. There are features, such as 3D and 4K video, with limited or no support. In fact, the last version (WMP 12) was released back in 2009.

Still, if you’re a long-time user of this antiquated media player, it may do exactly what you need it to. In such a case, it helps to know some ways of fixing Windows Media Player problems.

windows media player not working

Common WMP Issues and Potential Fixes

Every piece of software has the potential to fail at some point. Sometimes issues lie within the application itself. Other times it could be a conflict within the system. Whatever the reason, there are typically ways to approach troubleshooting.

The following headings indicate problems along with their potential solutions. Though organized in this manner, you should note that solutions for one problem may also work for another.

Windows Media Player is Missing

This one can be pretty straight-forward if you’re running Windows 10. Windows Media Player may not be enabled/installed by default so you’ll want to go in and turn on the feature.

apps and features

To install it, right-click the Windows start button and choose Apps & Features.

windows optional features

Then click the link for Manage optional features.

add a feature

Select Add a feature (with a plus sign beside it).

add windows media player

Find Windows Media Player on the list and click it. You’ll see an option appear to Install.

Once installation completes, you can search (using the search box on the taskbar) for Windows Media Player and select the app. While it’s running, you can pin the app to the taskbar for easier access the next time.

Windows Media Player Does Not Launch

If you’re patiently watching your screen and nothing happens when you try to start the app, you’re likely asking yourself, “why won’t my Windows Media player open?”

When an application fails to launch, it might be an indication that the software is corrupted or there is a conflict with another program. For the latter, you can walk through and close one or more programs in Windows, though it might be much quicker to just reboot the computer.

If you prefer to determine what application or processes might be conflicting, you can open up the Task List by hitting Ctrl + Alt + Del on the keyboard and selecting it. From here, you can experiment with closing down various items.

Shutting down other applications or rebooting Windows won’t always help. If not, you can try to refresh the application. So how do you reset Windows Media Player?

uninstall windows media player

Simply follow the prior steps (for installing) – but this time an option will appear to Uninstall. After removing it, go back and Install the application again.

Windows Media Player Stops Responding

Another frustrating scenario is to be moving along with some activity and find yourself waiting for the WMP app to do something, and after a while realizing that it’s never going to happen. When an application freezes, there are a few possibilities to consider.

You’ve already gone over some steps to manually troubleshoot, but what if there is a way for the OS to help? Windows has built-in troubleshooting software that can sometimes detect problems and attempt to fix them.

windows media player not responding

While not always successful, it doesn’t hurt to let Windows try to fix a problem. To do so, search for the Control Panel (from the taskbar) and click on the app. Then choose the link for View all.

troubleshoot computer problems

From the list, find Windows Media Player. You’ll notice that there are three choices – for the DVD, Library, and Settings. You can try troubleshooting each of these separately.

recreate media library

Start with one of them by clicking on it. You’ll notice a window will appear with the option to hit Next. Doing so will take you through a wizard that will make suggestions such as recreating the media library. You can choose to apply the recommended fix or skip it. Feel free to experiment. At some point, you may need to go through and test each suggestion.

Remember that you can try these for each category (DVD, Library & Settings) as needed. One strategy might be to go through the steps for one and then test the Windows Media Player. If it still has issues, go through another and test again.

Device Driver Issues

Applications like media players rely on the functionality and integration of hardware like graphics cards, DVD drives, and so on. If the application is communicating with this device but it’s not responding properly, the problem may lie with a common culprit.

Every device on your computer requires software to run it. The software – known as device drivers – can become outdated or corrupt. When this happens, the hardware may not function properly, if at all.

When that occurs, you need to update the driver for that particular device. You can allow Windows to try to correct the problem first.

windows device manager

To do so, go into the Device Manager (search for it from the Windows 10 taskbar) and click on the app.

update driver

Then, you’ll want to seek out the device from the list, right-click it and choose Update driver.

search for updated driver software

You’ll be met with a couple of choices. For now, choose the first one to allow Windows to search for the driver. If the operating system finds a better one, it will install it, and you’ll be done.

Manually Updating Drivers

Windows won’t always be successful in its attempt to find the correct driver. If not, you can opt to search for one yourself.

You’ll need to know the exact model of the hardware in order to find the correct one from the manufacturer’s website. Assuming you’re successful, you can download and unzip the new driver to a local area (typically your hard drive).

browse computer for drivers

Once you’ve completed that task, you can go back into the Device Manager and choose to update the driver again, but this time select the second choice to browse your computer for the driver. This will allow you to drill down to the location where you downloaded the software.

Automate the Task of Keeping Drivers Updated

When it comes to updating drivers, there is another path you can take – in fact, an easier one. There exist solutions, such as Driver Support, that can maintain your computer’s device drivers for you. Instead of scrambling to find the correct ones every time the need arises, you can decide to be prepared ahead of time.

The choice is yours. You can go through the laborious task of keeping drivers current or use that time for something else, like working on that media project.

Since 1996, Driver Support has been trusted to keep your devices running smoothly. Once registered, the Driver Support service will inventory and update any drivers that are missing or outdated. Download Driver Support today to get started.