This short article will teach you how to play a Video CD (VCD) on your computer. If you do not know what a Video CD is, chances are that this guide will be useless to you. The target audience of this guide is the person who is only familiar with playing VCDs in a standalone VCD or DVD player, but not a computer. Lets proceed, shall we?
There are two options for playing VCDs on your computer. One is to use Windows Media Player, which is installed on most Windows systems. First, insert the VCD into your CD or DVD-ROM drive. Then, navigate to the MPEGAV directory on the CD. One way to do this is to click on Start, then Run, and in the Run box type X:\MPEGAV, where X is the letter of your CD or DVD-ROM drive. Here, you will see one or more files with a MUSIC***.DAT or AVSEQ***.DAT naming convention, where the asterisks represent a series of numbers, usually beginning with 01 or 001. These are the video files. Unless you have another application that uses DAT files, there should be no programs associated with them. If this is the case, double-click on one of them, and when Windows asks you what program you want to use to open them, choose Windows Media Player (or mplayer2.exe), and check the box that asks if you want to always use mplayer2.exe to open DAT files. In Windows XP, you will have to locate the file yourself. The location of the file is C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\mplayer2.exe. Once you have selected mplayer2.exe, click OK and the video should now play.
The second method for playing a VCD is deceptively simple. If you have a DVD drive on your computer, then you probably already have DVD player software (such as WinDVD or PowerDVD) on your computer as well. Start up this software, insert your VCD, and the VCD should play automatically. Note that you can also install said software on your computer even if you do not have a DVD drive, and use it to play VCDs.
Well, there you have it, a super short guide on playing VCDs on your computer. Please email me if you have any questions. Enjoy the show!
Update May 10, 2016 – 1:06 AM
(Kind of crazy to be updating this article after nearly 12 years, but believe it or not this is one of the more popular pages on this site. Luckily, it’s now much easier to play a video CD on your computer than it was back in 2002.)
It would seem that Windows 7, 8, 10, and possibly Vista now support video CDs out of the box. The first time inserting a VCD, the OS will prompt you to choose how you want VCDs to be handled. Select Play Video CD (Windows Media Player) and that’s it! If no prompt comes up, then go to Autoplay settings in Control Panel (you can simply type autoplay into the Start menu) and make the proper selection under CDs->Video CD. Once Windows Media Player starts playing the VCD, use the right-click menu to select the proper audio track, if necessary. Below are some screenshots which should help. As always, leave a comment below if further help is needed, and enjoy the show!