Media file formats supported by NVivo 10


This topic lists the audio and video file formats supported by NVivo 10 and explains why you may need to install additional codecs in order to import and play some media files.

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Supported audio and video formats

NVivo supports the following media file formats:


  • MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 format (mp3)

  • MPEG-4 audio format (m4a)

  • Microsoft Windows Media formats (wma, wav)


  • MPEG formats (mpg, mpeg, mpe, mp4)

  • Windows Media formats ( avi, wmv)

  • QuickTime formats (mov, qt)

  • 3G Mobile Phone format (3gp)

  • AVCHD High Definition Video formats (mts, m2ts)

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Why should I install 32-bit NVivo if I am working with .mov and .qt files?

If you work with .mov and .qt files, we recommend you install the 32-bit version of NVivo—even if you are running Windows 7 64-bit.

When you install the 32-bit NVivo, NVivo uses QuickTime to import and play these files. A 64-bit version of the QuickTime media player is not available, so you may experience difficulties working with these files if you install the 64-bit version of NVivo.

You can see which version of software you are using (the 32-bit or 64-bit version) on the About dialog box—refer to Software updates (Find out which version of the software is currently installed on your computer) for more information.

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What are codecs?

A codec is software that is used to compress or decompress a media file. Audio and video recording software and media players use codecs to create and play media files.

A codec has two components—an encoder and a decoder. The encoder compresses the file and the decoder decompresses it.

There are many different codecs in use today, some commonly used codecs are installed on your computer when the operating system or media players are installed. Other codecs may be installed when you connect a digital camera, video recorder or other mobile recording device to your computer.

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Why may I need additional codecs to import and play media files?

NVivo relies on the codecs installed on your computer to decode media files, when you:

  • Import them into your project.

  • Play the media files within your project

  • Export nodes containing media content to web pages (HTML files)

If the required codec is not installed on your computer, you will not be able to import or play the file, even if it is in a supported format.

Different codecs can be used to compress files with the same file extension, so you might find you have difficulty importing a particular file, but have no problems importing other files of the same type. For example, you might be able to import most .mp4 files, but have difficulty with a particular .mp4  file that requires a different codec.

If you give someone a copy of your project, they may not be able to play media files that you imported and can play. This may happen, if their computer does not have a codec that is installed on yours. For example, if you uploaded HD video recordings from a digital camera, you may have installed additional codecs on your computer, that are not installed on theirs.

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How do I know which codec was used to compress a file?

If you recorded the audio or video yourself (for example, on a digital recorder or camera), the manufacturer may provide the codec via their website (or even on a CD that was included in the box when you purchased the device).

If you did not record the audio or video yourself, it can be difficult to find out which codec was used to compress the file, but you can try these methods:

  • Try playing the media file in Windows Media Player. While the file is playing, right-click the file in the library, and then click Properties. On the File tab, look at the Audio codec and Video codec sections. Note that, sometimes these sections are blank and do not display the codec that is being used.

  • Use a codec identification tool—these tools are available on the Internet.

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How do I tell which codecs are installed on my computer?

You can use Windows Media Player to see a list of components including codecs installed on your computer:

  1. Start Windows Media Player (from the Start menu, click All Programs>Windows Media Player).

  2. On the Help menu, click About Windows Media Player. If the Help menu is not visible, you may need to show the menu bar.

  3. On the About Windows Media Player dialog box, click Technical Support Information

Your web browser will open a page that includes information about related binary files, codecs, filters, plug-ins and services installed on your computer. You may be able to see that the codec you require is missing or you might give this information to a technical support person to help troubleshoot your problems with importing and playing particular media files.

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How do I find a codec?

If you know the name of the codec or its ID (Known as a FourCC identifier for video codecs or a WaveFormat identifier for audio codecs), you can try searching the Internet. You may be able to go to a codec manufacturer's website and download the most recent version of the codec.

CAUTION  We recommend you install only codecs from trusted authorized sources, such as the website of the official supplier. Some codecs you find on the Internet, particularly some of the free codec packs that contain codecs from a wide variety of organizations, may cause playback issues or lead to system corruption.

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Can I convert the media file to another format and then try importing it?

If you are unable to import a particular media file and cannot find the codec you require, you can try converting it into another file format for import into NVivo.

You may be able to convert the file into another format by using:

  • Audio or video editing software to save it to another format

  • A conversion tool—there are a number of conversion tools available on the Internet.

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