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What is a WebM File? How Do You Open it Without a Media Player?

What is WebM?

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:33 am

WebM is video container format designed for the web. It’s based on the Matroska video format.

WebM could be used for HD video playback, live video streaming and even video calls, In short the format can be used for any form of web video.

WebM History

WebM started development after Google acquired On2, the company that created the VP6 codec (used for Flash video) and VP7 codec (used for Skype) in August 2009..

Web M was launched in 2010 by Google.

WebM is an open source initiative, It’s supported by such Internet giants as Google, Mozilla, Opera and Skype, among others.

The idea behind WebM is to provide a high-quality, affordable video technology for the web with the contributions of volunteer developers.

WebM File Components

A WebM video has the .webm extension.

A WebM file consists of the following components a WebM container and codecs.


The WebM container stores information on the file – its duration, resolution and so on.

The WebM container is similar to the Matroska container, only that it’s a watered-down version.


The WebM container format started off using the VP8 (video) and Vorbis (audio) codecs. Both are lossy codecs.

From 2013 onwards, WebMhas been adopting the VP9 and Opus video and audio codecs respectively.

These versatile codecs allows for high compression rates without noticeable quality loss.

True Web Video Format

WebM can be said to be the true web format. Other video formats currently being used aren’t really designed for the web – MPEG, MP4 etc. These formats were created with TV broadcast and hardware playback in mind.

Web Browser Support

Before the advent of HTML5, special plugins are required to play video on the web. In the past one had to install Quicktime, Flash, Windows Media Player and RealPlayer plugins.

WebM is supported by popular platforms. All popular HTML5 web browsers support this format and this includes Google Chrome, Opera and Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge, among others.

Still, some browsers like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari need plugins to play a WebM file.

YouTube Uses WebM

YouTube is encoding its videos in the WebM format. Since 2011, all new videos uploaded to YouTube were encoded in the VP8 codec supported by the WebM format.

Before that, videos used to be encoded with H264.


This one video format for which companies don’t have to pay royalty for. Currently, companies pay millions of dollars in licensing fees to use certain codecs.

The use of WebM which is constantly being enhanced will save media companies a huge amount of money.

How to Play WebM

If you want to play back a WebM file, you don’t need a media player. All you need is go to your browser and open the WebM file with it.

In Google Chrome, that would be CTRL + O. A video player will appear and you just have to click the Play button to watch the video.

WebM Media Players

If you don’t have a web browser that supports WebM, then you could use the following media players:

  • VLC Media Player
  • Media Player Classic (MPC-HC)
  • Free WebM player

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