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HOW-TO: Windows Media Player Cannot Access the File

Do you use your PC to play or view videos? After all the PC can be pretty robust when it comes to this functionality as the bundles of available player+codec software make a mutually potent combo to watch just about anything. However, the most common player available is Windows Media Player (or WMP). And it has its share of headaches, one of which is this error:

"Windows Media Player cannot access the file. The file might be in use; you might not have access to the computer where the file is stored, or your proxy settings might not be correct."

(or this screenshot below)

Windows Media Player Cannot Access the File

I got the above while trying to play an AVI file. No software install has been done in over a week, so this troubled me a bit. No recent changes to the system either. (Yeah, I'm one of those who believe in the saying: If it ain't broken, don't fix it.)

I have checked the permissions all the way to the root folder of the drive but it doesn't really help. I googled a bit, but came out empty.

Paranoia took over, so I scanned for viruses -- none. That didn't help either.

Luckily, I plugged in the Zalman 5.1ch headphones and was about to change the speaker settings from normal stereo to 5.1ch when the solution came. Try this:

(if using "Category" view try..)
Start --> Control Panel --> Hardware and Sound --> Sound

(if using "Icon" view try..)
Start --> Control Panel --> Sound

A pop-up will show stating certain enhancements are interfering with the program. Terminate? (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take a screenshot as I wasn't aware that this WAS the solution to the problem. And, it is as tragic that I cannot duplicate the problem. So for now, the cause is unknown.) Click "Yes" to this pop-up.

I didn't realize this was the solution until I actually clicked on the AVI file again and it played this time. The procedure above brought back functionality of WMP. I hope it does the same for you.

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