Frequently asked questions about video and audio playback on Xbox 360

Overview

This article answers frequently asked questions about video playback and audio/video (AV) streaming on the Xbox 360.

Solutions

Frequently asked questions

Q1: What are the details of Xbox 360 Audio Video Interleaved (AVI) support?

A1: Here are Xbox 360 AVI support details:

  • File extensions: .avi, .divx
  • Containers: AVI
  • Video profiles: MPEG-4 Part 2, Simple and Advanced Simple Profile
  • Video bitrate: 5 megabits per second (Mbps) with resolutions of 1280 x 720 at 30 frames per second (fps)
  • Audio profiles: Dolby Digital 2 channel and 5.1 channel, MP3
  • Audio max bitrate: No restrictions
    Note See question 11 for more information.

Q2: Can you describe Xbox 360 support for the H.264 standard?

A2: Xbox 360 provides the following H.264 support:

  • File name extensions: .mp4, .m4v, mp4v, .mov
  • Containers: MPEG-4, QuickTime
  • Video profiles: Baseline, main, and high (up to level 4.1) profiles
  • Video bitrate: 10 Mbps with resolutions of 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps
  • Audio profiles: two-channel AAC low complexity (LC)
  • Audio max bitrate: No restrictions
    Note See question 11 for more information.

Q3: What does Xbox 360 support for MPEG-4 Part 2?

A3: Here are the details about Xbox 360 support for MPEG-4:

  • File name extensions: .mp4, .m4v, mp4v, .mov
  • Containers: MPEG-4, QuickTime
  • Video profiles: Simple and Advanced Simple Profile
  • Video bitrate: 5 Mbps with resolutions of 1280 x 720 at 30 fps
  • Audio profiles: two-channel AAC low complexity (LC)
  • Audio max bitrate: No restrictions
    Note See question 11 for more information.

Q4: What exactly does Xbox 360 support for WMV (VC-1)?

A4: Here are the details about Xbox 360 support for WMV:

  • File name extensions: .wmv
  • Container: asf
  • Video profiles: WMV7 (WMV1), WMV8 (WMV2), WMV9 (WMV3), VC-1 (WVC1 or WMVA) in simple, main, and advanced up to level 3
  • Video bitrate: 15 Mbps with resolutions of 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps
  • Audio profiles: WMA7/8, WMA 9 Pro (stereo and 5.1), WMA lossless
  • Audio max bitrate: No restrictions
    Note See question 11 for more information.

Q5: Can I mix and match the video and audio codecs outside those defined in questions 1 through 4 above?

A5: No. Xbox only supports each audio and video codec in the explicit containers as defined in questions 1 through 4.

Q6: How can I determine if a video file that I’m trying to play conforms to the specifications as described in questions 1 through 4?

A6: You can use a third-party tool to analyze your video files to determine what audio and video codec is used. One popular third-party tool to analyze video files is available at http://www.headbands.com/gspot/.

Q7: How do I create WMV, AVI, H.264, and MPEG-4 content? What encoders does Xbox 360 support?

A7: You can create this content by using one of the many third-party applications that are available. Xbox 360 supports many popular encoders. Specifically, for encoding to WMV, you can use Microsoft Expression Encoder or Windows Media Encoder.

Q8: What specific features of MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile does Xbox 360 support?

A8: Xbox 360 supports Bidirectional Frames (BVOPs), Interlaced Frames, Quarter Pixel Motion Compensation, Global Motion Compensation, and MPEG Quantization.

Q9: What are the different ways to play video content on Xbox 360?

A9: You can play video from a USB 2.0 FAT32 removable drive, from optical media, and by streaming from the Zune software, Windows Media Player 11, or Windows Home Server.

Q10: What are the different video codecs that are supported by all the different ways to play video content on Xbox 360?

A10: See the following table:

Scenario Supported codecs
From USB storage device to Xbox 360 Dashboard video player WMV(unprotected),
MPEG4
H.264
AVI
From Windows Media Player 11 to Xbox 360 Dashboard video player WMV(protected)
WMV(unprotected)
MPEG4*
*H.264*
AVI
From the Zune software to Xbox 360 Dashboard video player WMV(unprotected)
MPEG4
H.264
From Windows Home Server to Xbox 360 Dashboard video player WMV (protected)
WMV (unprotected)
AVI
From Windows Media Center to an Xbox Media Center Extender WMV (protected)
WMV (unprotected)
MPEG2

*See question 32 for information about how to configure Windows Media Player to share these file types to Xbox 360.

Q11: What is the "real" max bit rate, resolution, and frames per second that Xbox 360 supports for all the different formats?

A11: Xbox 360 does not specifically block video from playing based on a maximum bit rate, a resolution, or frames per second. The maximums listed previously for each codec are the results from tests for various video playback sources. Higher-rated content will not be blocked, but playback may be less then optimal. Use higher bitrates at your own risk.

Q12: What size USB storage device does Xbox 360 support?

A12: Xbox 360 will support as big a storage device as you can format by using FAT32. Unfortunately, when formatting a device in Windows Vista or Windows XP, you are restricted to a maximum FAT32 size of 32 GB. You can work around this limitation by using a third-party utility or using an alternative operating system that does not have this restriction. Note that the maximum size of any single file on FAT32 is 4 GB.

Q13: What is the maximum video file size that is supported?

A13: The maximum file size for an AVI, MPEG-4 Part 2, or H.264 file that can be played is 4 GB. 4 GB is also the maximum size of any single file that you can store on a FAT32 USB hard drive. However, Windows Media Player 11 and the Zune software do support streaming WMV files that are larger than 4 GB.

Q14: Do you support 5.1-channel AAC?

A14: No. Only 2-channel AAC is supported. If you want to play a 5.1-channel video on your console, you will have to encode it to WMV with WMAPro 5.1 audio or use the AVI container with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Q15: What kinds of AVI files are supported?

A15: Xbox 360 supports files that were encoded using MPEG-4 Part 2, Simple and Advanced Simple Profile. These files are often referred to as "Xvid" or "DivX" video files. Many common DVD authoring tools, cameras, and camcorders are capable of encoding files by using MPEG-4. Note that some files authored for DivX devices may also contain additional functionality, such as menus, subtitles, multiple audio tracks, and so on. Xbox 360 will try to play these files but does not support any of this additional functionality and in some cases will be unable to play the file.

Q16: Why don’t some of my older versions of DivX files play?

A16: Since Xbox 360 only supports MPEG-4-compatible codec implementations, it can’t play video files older than DivX 5.0.

Q17: Does Xbox 360 support video artwork when I browse my collection from Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune software?

A17: Xbox 360 will display whatever video artwork is displayed in Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune software for each video file.

Q18: Does Xbox 360 support video artwork when I browse my collection from a USB 2.0 FAT32 removable drive or optical media?

A18: For all video types, Xbox 360 will search for a corresponding .jpg file and use that file as the artwork. For example, video1.avi would display the artwork in video1.jpg if it exists. In the absence of this file, for the mp4 container, Xbox will search to determine whether the video file has embedded album artwork and then instead display that art. Please be aware you can't use this method when streaming from Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune software. See question 21 for more information.

Q19: What is the maximum album artwork size that Xbox 360 supports?

A19: It should not exceed 512 KB for all scenarios. This includes embedding artwork in the mp4 container, storing artwork alongside the file in a separate .jpg container, or streaming from Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune software.

Q20: How do the "Sort by type" and "Sort by title" options work when I browse my own generated video content?

A20: The "Sort by type" option is the typical Windows Explorer view that a computer would use to show your files. It will first alphabetically sort your folders and then alphabetically sort your files. The "Sort by title" option allows you to sort all folders and files alongside each other. Both of these sort options are persistent and linked to your profile so you do not need to set them every time. See question 21 for more information.

Q21: Can you give me an example of a way to organize my video hierarchy so I can best utilize artwork and folder structure on Xbox 360 for my personal video collection?

A21: The following example uses the "Sort by title" option on a USB hard drive that is connected to the Xbox 360 console:

  • Genre 1 (folder)
  • Genre 2 (folder)
    • Video 1.avi (file)
    • Video 1.jpg (file) (artwork)
    • Video 2.mp4 (file) (artwork embedded in file)
    • Video 3 (folder)
      • Video 3-1.wmv (file)
      • Video 3-2.mp4 (file)
      • Video 3-2.jpg (file) (artwork)
      • Video 3-3.wmv (file)
      • Video 3-3.jpg (file) (artwork)
  • Genre 3 (folder)

Q22: How do display modes work?

A22: There are five display modes: auto, letterbox, full screen, stretch, and native. You can access these modes while you’re watching a video by pressing Display on your remote or A on your controller.

  • The auto setting attempts to automatically determine the best viewing experience for your video. If it is a low resolution video, the video will be enlarged enough to be viewable on your screen while limiting the size for optimal viewing. If the video is higher resolution, it will be enlarged to fit the TV. For both scenarios, it will retain the aspect ratio of the original video, such as 4 x 3 or 16 x 9.
  • Letterbox mode will display your image full screen while retaining the aspect ratio of the original video. Use this mode if you want to override the auto function and fit the content to your TV.
  • Full screen mode will display your image full screen with the assumption that the video is 16 x 9 formatted for 4 x 3 screens. This can be helpful for older content that may be 4 x 3 with black bars encoded into the video. This mode will allow you to "zoom through" the black bars and see the video as wide screen.
  • Stretch mode will display your image full screen and stretch 4 x 3 content horizontally to fill a 16 x 9 TV screen. This can be helpful for those who always want to fill their TV regardless of the aspect ratio of the content. This causes 4 x 3 content to appear stretched.
  • Native mode allows you to see the content at its original resolution. Use this mode to view content that is extremely low resolution or has a very low bitrate.

Q23: How are display mode settings saved?

A23: Every time you watch a new video, the display mode defaults to auto. If you change the setting, each time that you watch the same video, the console will remember what you chose last time.

Q24: What is the information bar?

A24: The information bar on the display shows you exactly where you are in the video and where the chapters are in the file. In addition, for downloaded content, it shows how much of the video has been downloaded.

Q25: How are the chapters determined?

A25: Each video is divided into 10 chapters, which allows you to quickly move around the video content. Use skip to move to the next or previous chapter. Each chapter appears as a tick on the information bar.

Q26: Can I fast forward, rewind, and skip while watching content while it's being downloaded from Xbox Live?

A26: You can move around in video as far as you have already downloaded. If you skip ahead or try to view past the point that you have downloaded, you will have to wait for it to buffer enough to begin normal playback again.

Q27: Is there other third-party software that I can use to stream from my PC to my Xbox 360 console?

A27: The Xbox 360 team tests extensively to ensure that Xbox will work well with Windows Media Player 11 and the Zune software. If you decide to use third-party software, contact the manufacturer of that software for support.

Q28: How can I stream content from my Mac?

A28: To share from a Macintosh computer, you have to use a third-party streaming solution. Be aware that Microsoft does not support third-party streaming solutions, so you’ll have to contact the manufacturer of the product if you need support.

Q29: After the May 2007 update, my third-party software doesn't stream videos correctly. Why?

A29: Video navigation was changed in the May 2007 update. Third-party software that does not support folders through network sharing will not work correctly. You'll have to contact the software developer for support.

Q30: How can I set up Windows Media Player 11 or the Zune software to share my media to my console?

A30: For information about setting up sharing, see Using Windows Media Center with Xbox 360.

Q31: Should I continue to use Windows Media Connect (WMC) to stream video to my Xbox 360?

A31: Windows Media Connect can be used but is no longer supported outside Windows Home Server. We recommend that you upgrade to Windows Media Player 11 or use the Zune software to have the best experience managing and streaming content to Xbox 360.

Q32: How can I get Windows Media Player 11 to stream MPEG-4 Part 2 and H.264 to my console?

A32: By default, Windows Media Player 11 does not support MPEG-4 Part 2 and H.264. Your first option is to install a third-party MP4 DirectShow decoder to import MPEG-4 Part 2 and H.264 files into your library. When they are in your library, they can be streamed to your console, and they can be played from Windows Media Player 11 on your computer. An alternative approach is to rename all of your mp4 files to have an ".avi" file name extension. This will enable Windows Media Player 11 to import them into the library and will allow them to be played on your Xbox 360 console. To enable the playback of these files on the computer, you will still need to install an appropriate decoder on the PC.

Q33: I can't see my video files from the Zune software on my console. What's wrong?

A33: Make sure that the folders that contain the videos you want to share with your console are included in the Zune software's list of monitored folders.

Q34: I got a message that a media update is required to play the content. When I download the update, I get the message "The download could not be completed. Please try again later. Any points you used for this transaction have already been deducted from your balance and will not be deducted again," along with error code 80070005. Can you explain this?

A34: You'll get this error if you previously downloaded the media update on another Xbox 360 console by using the same profile. You can only download the update on one console with each profile. You can work around this limitation by creating a temporary free membership to download the update. After the update is downloaded, you’ll be able to use the update with any profile.

Q35: Why do I get the message "Updating content. This may take a few minutes. Please wait." when I enter the Xbox 360 video area?

A35: To support grouping television and game videos, your content metadata has to be updated. After this process is completed, subsequent entries into the video area will be very quick. Please be patient during the update process and allow it to finish updating all your content metadata.

Q36: What changes have you made to selecting the source for videos, music, and pictures?

A36: The source selection is now mapped to the X button for each of these areas. The Xbox 360 console will remember the last source that you picked and default to that source. We have also removed the computer affiliation from the System area and instead now show a list of all the computers that you can connect to directly in Select Source. This allows you to quickly jump between Windows Media Player 11 and the Zune software media shares.

Q37: How can I play music from my iPhone and iPod Touch?

A37: Unfortunately, the iPhone and iPod Touch use a different mechanism for storing music than a “traditional” iPod uses. Xbox is currently unable to play music from the iPhone or iPod Touch. However, you can still browse the pictures that are stored on these devices through the Pictures area in the Xbox 360 Dashboard.

Q38: Can I play videos from my iPod?

A38: Xbox 360 does not support playing of videos from an iPod.

Q39: When trying to play 25 or 50 frame-per-second content, I don’t get any video over VGA. Why?

A39: This only affects consoles that output PAL-50 and PAL-60 output modes. There is a known issue in which 25 or 50 fps video sometimes can’t be displayed over a VGA connection if you previously connected your Xbox console through component video output. To work around this problem, follow these steps:
  1. Connect your Xbox 360 console to a display device with a component video cable.
  2. Select Settings, and then select System.
  3. Select Console Settings.
  4. Select Display.
  5. Set your display settings to a different resolution than the current setting. For example, if your current setting is 720p, change it to 480p.
  6. A slider with the following message should appear:
    "Your display settings have changed. You can keep this setting or try another. Do you want to keep the new settings? If you keep the new settings, your TV will be tested to see if it also supports this setting at 50Hz." Select Yes, keep these settings.
  7. Next, your display will be tested for 50Hz output. A slider with the following message will appear: "Now displaying at 50Hz. Does this display appear correctly?"
    Select No.
    Important Select No even if the display is correct.
  8. Again connect your Xbox console by VGA. The videos should now play correctly.

Microsoft disclaims any and all liability arising out of your use of the third-party companies, software, solutions, services, and training listed on the site. All software, solutions, services, and training are provided "as is" and without warranty unless provided by the authoring third-party company.

Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

Additional support

For more help, contact Xbox Support.

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