ffdshow is a free DirectShow and Video for Windows codec. It supports a wide range of audio and video formats like Xvid, Divx, and H.264. You can use the program to enhance the video’s quality with plenty of postprocessing filters for displaying subtitles, deinterlacing, resizing, and options to alter and fine-tune the audio quality.
ffdshow is released under the GNU General Public Licence, which means it’s free to distribute, download and use on your Windows computer. If you’re looking for an extensive collection of codes and playback filters, then ffdshow is an excellent choice. Other options include XviD Codec and LAV Filters.
How to install and set up ffdshow?
To install ffdshow, first, download the file by clicking on the download button on the page to save the ffdshow .exe installation file to your computer. Then, double click on the .exe file to launch the installer wizard. Choose your preferred language, followed by the installation location. You’ll need at least 11.1 MB of free disk space.
The next screen shows all the video and audio formats that you can use to decode. Choose which components to install - the most used ones are already selected. When the installation finishes, your computer will now use ffdshow to process the file types you specified. You can also open ffdshow's configuration apps to customise your experience further.
You’ll notice that ffdshow doesn’t include a media player of any kind. That’s because it works behind the scenes once installed. If you’re using a DirectShow or VFW compatible media player on your computer, they’ll automatically use ffdshow for you. In practice, this means you don’t need to install codecs separately. As long as ffdshow supports that codec you need, it’ll work on your media player.
What decoding formats does ffdshow support?
ffdshow makes use of libavcodec library, which is a free and open-source library of video and audio decoders, along with other free, open-source software packages. ffdshow supports video and audio formats such as:
- MPEG-4 Part 2,
- Flash Video
- Dolby AC3
What else can ffdshow do?
On top of decoding video and audio files, you can use ffdshow to display subtitles, take screenshots, tweak the video resolution to improve sharpness or the overall quality, turn on keyboard control, and use many of the post-processing video filters. When it comes to audio, you can manipulate it with various effects and use plugins to extend the functionality even more.
ffdshow video decoder and audio decoder configuration
The video decoder and audio decoder configuration apps are separate but operate the same way. After opening the video decoder configuration, you’ll see a window with options for codecs, DirectShow control and a long list of configuration options. Click on one of the options to display the configuration options in the right-hand pane.
For example, clicking on 'Crop' opens the crop and zoom settings where you can define the amount of zoom, auto crop, or define your own crop settings.
Clicking on the 'Codecs' option on the left side of the window shows you a list of video formats that ffdshow can decode for you (as long as you have DirectShow). You can enable and disable them by clicking on the middle column and selecting your choice from the drop-down menu. The majority are disabled by default as they typically have specific use cases.
The audio decoder configuration works the same way but provides access to audio settings like volume, equaliser, FIR filter, noise reduction, and more. You can export your settings to save them externally or use them elsewhere, and with the click of a button, you can reset all of the options back to their original settings.
A powerful decoder for Windows
Overall, ffdshow is a powerful DirectShow and Video windows codec with support for a vast range of audio and video formats. If you find yourself constantly downloading different codecs or getting codec errors when trying to watch a video file or listen to audio, ffdshow will likely already have the codec you need.
The powerful filters available are an excellent additional tool but will most likely be left alone by those who aren’t as knowledgeable about the technical side of things. This isn’t helped by the lack of documentation and online help guides. But, having said that, the ffdshow application is easy to use and very experimental-friendly, letting you play around with all the available options.