What Is an AVI File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert AVI Files

AVI Files
AVI Files.
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Standing for Audio Video Interleave, a file with the AVI file extension is a commonly used file format developed by Microsoft for storing both video and audio data in a single file.

The AVI format is based off of the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF), a container format used to store multimedia data.

AVI is typically less compressed than other, more popular formats like MOV and MPEG, meaning that an AVI file will be larger than the same file in one of those more compressed formats.

How to Open an AVI File

You might have trouble opening AVI files because they can be encoded with a variety of video and audio codecs. One AVI file may play just fine, but another might not, because they can only be played if the right codecs are installed.

Windows Media Player is included in most versions of Windows and should be able to play most AVI files by default. If an AVI file won't play in Windows Media Player, you can try installing the free K-Lite Codec pack.

VLC, ALLPlayer, Kodi, and DivX Player are some other free AVI players you can try out if WMP isn't working for you.

Most web-based storage services will also play AVI files when stored there, Google Drive being one of many examples.

Some simple and free AVI editors include Avidemux, VirtualDub, Movie Maker, and Wax.

Note: If your file isn't opening with the programs mentioned above, you may have misread the file extension, meaning you're technically opening something other than an AVI file.

For example, while the file's extension may look like ".AVI," it may be in an entirely different file format like AV, AVS (Avid Project Preferences), AVB (Avid Bin), or AVE.

How to Convert an AVI File

Sometimes you can convert a file by just opening it in a viewer (like one of the programs from above) and then saving it to another format, but this probably isn't the case with most AVI viewers.

Instead, the easiest and most effective way to convert an AVI file to another format is to use a free file converter. One of my favorites, Any Video Converter, converts AVI to MP4, FLV, WMV, and a number of other formats.

Another option, which I would only recommended if the AVI file is pretty small, is to use an online AVI converter like Zamzar, FileZigZag, OnlineVideoConverter, or Online-Convert.com. After uploading your AVI file to one of those websites, you can convert it to a variety of formats like 3GP, WEBM, MOV, MKV, and others, including audio formats (MP3, AAC, M4A, WAV, etc.). You then have to download the converted file back to your computer to use it.

Tip: If there's a specific file type that you need to convert your AVI file to that you don't see listed above in my examples, click through to those online AVI converter websites to find a list of formats you can convert the AVI file to. For example, if you're using FileZigZag, you can visit their Conversion Types page to see a full list of supported formats.

See these Free Video Converter Programs and Online Services for even more free AVI converters, some of which also serve as a free AVI editor.