50 Mac Essentials #10: Flip4Mac WMV Player

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Apple might have overtaken Microsoft in terms of market cap, but Windows remains the world’s most popular operating system by a long way. That means there’s a lot of Windows-friendly stuff out there on the web that won’t necessarily play nicely with your Mac.

Not unless you have Flip4Mac WMV Player installed.

This free player does one job, and does it very well. Once it’s installed, you can play Windows Media files that you find on the web without fuss. There’s no need to download, convert, then play in some other app. Stuff just works and you don’t have to think about it. Even Microsoft approves of this app, having discontinued its own Windows Media Player for OS X some years ago. Nowadays it just points people to Flip4Mac.

If you need to do more with WMV files, you can pay up for a series of upgrades – from a simple thirty bucks to move them to an iPod and do basic editing, to $179 for the Studio Pro HD version, which is best suited to video professionals.

For the rest of us, however, the free Player comes in very handy for watching video clips or listening to lots of music streams (particularly internet radio stations) that come in Windows Media format by default.

Once you’ve used it for a while, it will become one of the handful of apps that you install almost without thinking on every new Mac you own – because when it’s missing, you soon notice.

(You’re reading the 10th post in our series, 50 Essential Mac Applications: a list of the great Mac apps the team at Cult of Mac value most. Read more.)