Realplayer computer icon.png
RealPlayer 11 on Windows
Developer(s) RealNetworks
Initial release 1995; 16 years ago (1995)
Stable release

Windows:  (November 18, 2011; 4 days ago (2011-11-18)[1])

Mac OS X:  (August 16, 2011; 3 months ago (2011-08-16)[2])

Linux:  (December 4, 2010; 11 months ago (2010-12-04)[3])

Windows Mobile: 1.1  (July 30, 2009; 2 years ago (2009-July-30)[4]) [+/−]
Preview release Android: 0.60 Beta  (July 14, 2011; 4 months ago (2011-July-14)[5]) [+/−]
Development status Linux and Solaris versions discontinued[6]
Operating system Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, Android, Symbian and Palm OS
Platform IA-32, x86-64, ARM and MIPS
Available in English, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), German, French, Korean, Italian, Japanese and Portuguese
Type Media player
License Freemium

RealPlayer is a cross-platform media player by RealNetworks that plays a number of multimedia formats including MP3, MPEG-4, QuickTime, Windows Media, and multiple versions of proprietary RealAudio and RealVideo formats.[7]



The first version of RealPlayer was introduced in April 1995 as RealAudio Player, one of the first media players capable of streaming media over the Internet. Version 4.01 of RealPlayer was included as a selectable internet tool in MS Windows 98 installation.[8] Version 6 of RealPlayer was called RealPlayer G2; version 9 was called RealOne Player. Free "Basic" versions have been provided as well as paid "Plus" versions with additional features. On Windows, version 9 subsumed the features of the separate program RealJukebox.

RealPlayer 11 was released for Windows in November 2007, and for Mac OS X in May 2008. Versions of RealPlayer are also available for Linux, Unix, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian OS.[9] The program is powered by an underlying open source media engine called Helix.[10]

RealPlayer was a popular streaming media player during the early years of the Internet, but in recent years it has been surpassed in market share by Windows Media Player, and, since mid-2007, Apple's iTunes.[11] Many users would have initially encountered RealPlayer as a plugin to watch streaming video or listen to streaming audio, e.g. the BBC's websites at one time used this almost exclusively,[12] but in recent years Adobe Flash has become a much more popular format for this as demonstrated by the comparable success of BBC iPlayer. As a streaming media player, the number of unique users using RealPlayer has fallen by 50% over the 3 year period from March 2007 to March 2010.[13]

The latest version of RealPlayer, RealPlayer 14, was released November 10, 2010. Highlights for this version include enabling the user to easily transfer video, music, and photos between their computer and mobile devices, share links of videos and photos to sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and download videos from popular sites such as YouTube and Meta Café with one click.


RealPlayer, beyond its function as an audio/video player, also contains additional features such as:

  • Media Browser based on Internet Explorer which allows web browsing while playing media.
  • Playlist editor similar to other media players, supporting "drag and drop" and playlist randomize.
  • Theater Mode (full screen mode) video playback. This will only play on monitor 1 of a multi-monitor windows PC. The paid version offers a skinnable Toolbar Mode which uses less desktop space.
  • Visualizations - graphical animations or "light shows". Five are included with RealPlayer set-up. Others are available from RealNetworks, including a 3D Visualization Plug-In Surreal.FX.
  • Continuous Play (Loop multiple songs) and Shuffle Play (Play tracks randomly; however, RealPlayer will select the random tracks in sequence e.g. Track 1, Track 5, Track 2, Track 6, Track 3 etc.).
  • Stay on top while playing option.
  • Favorites menu to save and recall media locations for files or streams.
  • Equalizer and Video controls. Crossfade and Gapless playback are included in RealPlayer Plus.
  • Media library allows organization of media through track tagging and editing. The Premium version adds Audio Converter to convert between RealMedia, MP3, AAC, Windows Media, and WAV formats, and others.
  • Recording audio, (RealPlayer Plus only) which records audio via a sound card.
  • LivePause pauses streaming video clips without having to stop the buffering.
  • Version 10.5 included Harmony technology, making the Music Store compatible with iPod and Windows Media DRM-compatible players.
  • Both the basic and the plus version can burn CDs. The current burning technology is powered by NPI; formerly it was powered by Adaptec (Roxio). The free version can burn audio and data CDs; the premium version burns MP3 CDs.
  • CD ripping into AAC (in MP4) (32 kbit/s - 320 kbit/s) (default), Real Audio 10 (32 kbit/s - 320 kbit/s), MP3 (32 kbit/s - 320 kbit/s), Real Audio Lossless, WAV (1411 kbit/s), Windows Media Audio (Requires Windows Media Player 10 installed) (64 kbit/s - 192 kbit/s) formats.
  • RealPlayer Music Store allows users to locate, preview, and purchase songs, which cost $0.49 to $0.99.
  • SuperPass - paid access to premium recorded and live video broadcasts. In the U.S., content like CBS Big Brother 24/7 is provided for a fee of around USD$39.99. For Europe (except UK), this includes live broadcasts of BBC World Europe, Al Jazeera English, CNN International Europe, Euronews in seven languages, BBC News recent news clips, MTV UK music clips, and custom content from SportsNews TV, RealTV, Vidzone, and Comedy Time. Costs 17.50 € per month.
  • Video Download - version 11 for Windows and OS X allow users to download Flash Video files from sites such as YouTube. MP4 files can be downloaded.
  • Media Converter (RealPlayer SP) - allows converting to proper format and transferring video to iPod, cell phones, Xbox, PS3 and other devices
  • Video Sharing (SP) - users can post videos to Facebook and Twitter directly from the software

Supported media formats

Formats supported by optional plug-ins

  • MIMIO Broadcast (*.mbc)[29][30]
  • BeHere iVideo 360° Movies (*.bhiv)[31]
  • iPIX 360° Movies (*.ipx)[32]
  • ScreenWatch (*.scw)[33]
  • Vivo Video Files (*.viv)[34]
  • MJuice Files (*.mjf)[35]
  • Blue Matter (*.bmt, *.bma)[36]
  • OZ.COM fluid3d[37]
  • IBM EMMS (*.emm)[38]
  • On2 VP5 (*.vp5)[39][40]
  • On2 VP4 (*.vp4)[41]
  • On2 VP3 (*.vp3)[42]
  • ImagePower Motion JPEG2000 (*.jp2, *.avi)[43]
  • 3GP Mobile Phone Video Files (3gp)[44]
  • AMR Narrow Band (*.amr)
  • AMR Wide Band (*.amr)


RealPlayer has a wide variety of plug-ins. Some of the plug-ins are listed at the RealPlayer accessories page, but not all.

Audio Enhancement
There are four audio "enhancers" available for the latest version of RealPlayer. DFX, iQfx, Volume Logic, and Sanyo 3D Surround.[45] Lake PLS, created by Lake Technologies, works only with RealJukebox, and has limited use. There are some registry tweaks which allow Lake PLS to work with RealPlayer 10. Lake PLS is still available on the RealPlayer website.
RealPlayer Skin Creators
RealPlayer has had two skin creator plug-ins: SkinsEditor for RealJukebox -- an easy to use skins creator made by DeYoung software. The second application, RealJukebox Skins Converter, converts Winamp skins into RealPlayer skins.
Playback Plug-Ins
Please see section Formats supported by optional plug-ins.
Radio Tuners
vTuner Plus[46] and HMRadio are radio tuners specially created for RealPlayer.
The available visualizations from the RealNetworks site are: FrequencywurX, FyrewurX, FlamewurX, XFactor, Spectrl View, FluxWave, Puddle, Paint Drops, Polka dots, StickSterZ 1.0, Circle, On the road, Real Logo, Hubble Bubble. There are some more visualization plug-ins like Surreal.FX by RealNetworks, G-Force and WhiteCap by SoundSpectrum and SticksterZ 1.1[47] by Eric Metois.
Firefox Browser Download (Firefox Add-on)
RealPlayer has a browser download add-on for Firefox (currently v1.0) which allows users to download video from a video player window (pop-up menu above top-right side of video player).
an audioscrobbler plugin that connects RealPlayer with the Last.FM social music network.


RealPlayer for Windows

RealPlayer SP includes audio CD burning capabilities, DVR-style playback buffering, multimedia search, Internet radio, a jukebox-style file library, an embedded web browser (using Microsoft Internet Explorer), and the ability to convert and transfer media to a wide range of devices: Music players such as iPod and Zune, smartphones such as iPhone and BlackBerry, portable gaming devices such as Sony PSP, and console gaming systems such as Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. Since version 11, RealPlayer SP has gained Flash Video support, DVD, SVCD, VCD burning (120-minute) and video recording (DRM is supported).

As of 2011 RealPlayer Enterprise is a licensed product for enterprise applications which can be customized and remotely administered by RealPlayer Enterprise Manager.[48] The free Realplayer Enterprise Education Edition has been removed.[49] Both versions of Realplayer Enterprise are lightweight, ad-free versions of Real Player, missing most consumer features and most plug-in support. The RealSched.exe update reminder can be disabled in two steps, and it is not reinstalled upon running the player.

RealPlayer for Mac OS X

RealPlayer 10's browser showing the RealPlayer Wikipedia page.

RealPlayer for Mac OS X is distributed for free. The latest current stable release as of July 2010 is version RealPlayer SP 1.0. It includes Real's Helix playback engine for RealAudio and RealVideo, a 10-band equalizer and video adjustment controls, and a full-screen, resizable "theater mode" for video playback, as well as many features found in its Windows counterpart.

Since the release of version 10.0 in 2004,[50][51] RealPlayer has become much more closely integrated with Mac OS X including features such as:

  • QuickTime playback support (including full-screen viewing which Apple only introduced to its own basic QuickTime Player in 2007)
  • An integrated Web browser based on Apple's WebKit framework, resulting in RealPlayer and Safari sharing cookies.
  • Support for Bonjour to share Internet favorites.
  • Cocoa user interface.

RealPlayer for Linux/Unix

RealPlayer for Linux/Unix was developed separately from the Windows and Mac versions.[citation needed] The client is based on the open-source Helix Player which can be found at the Helix Community Website. It supports Windows Media 7/8, RealAudio/Video, MP3 and Ogg Vorbis. The interface depends on the current GTK+ theme.

RealPlayer for Android

The Android version of RealPlayer is currently available as a free download from the Android Market. Real Audio, Real Video, MP3, 3GP, AMR and other media formats.

RealPlayer for Symbian

The Symbian version of RealPlayer allows mobile phones to play Real Audio, Real Video, MP3, 3GP, AMR and other media formats. It is provided as freeware. In newer Symbian devices it can also be used to stream both audio and video content in the form of MP3 (music) and 3GP (videos).

RealPlayer for Palm

RealPlayer 1.6.1 (US) or RealPlayer 1.6.0 (worldwide) is available for free for PalmOne-made Palm OS 5 devices, such as the Palm Tungsten or Zire series.[52] It is also compatible with RealPlayer Music Store tracks. However, they will neither install nor run on non-PalmOne-made devices like Sony's Clie line of PDAs. They also do not support modern Palm smartphones such as the treo 700p, 755p, or Centro, although the treo 600 and 650 are listed as supported devices. Their Web page regarding PalmOS support (shown above) gives no indication if support for those devices will ever be provided.


RealJukebox was a computer program released by RealNetworks that allowed users to organise their digital music. It was first released in May 1999. By late 2001 the functions of the program had been integrated into the Real's core media player program, RealPlayer.


RealPlayer's Message Center has been criticized for its pop-up advertisements

Past versions of RealPlayer have been criticized for containing features similar to adware and spyware. In 1999 security researcher Richard M. Smith dissected some of RealJukebox's network traffic and discovered that it was sending a unique identifier with information about the music titles to which its users were listening.[53][54] RealNetworks issued a patch, and the spyware was removed[55] in version 1.02. Their download page stated RealJukebox included privacy enhancements and gave a link to the privacy policy.[56]

PC World magazine named RealPlayer (1999 Version) as #2 in its 2006 list The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time, writing that RealPlayer "had a disturbing way of making itself a little too much at home on your PC--installing itself as the default media player, taking liberties with your Windows Registry, popping up annoying 'messages' that were really just advertisements, and so on."[55] In 2007, it placed RealPlayer, versions 1996-2004, at #5 in its list, The 20 Most Annoying Tech Products.[57]

In 2008 labeled RealPlayer "badware" for not completely disclosing software components it installs as well as those it leaves behind after being un-installed.[58] Jeff Chasen, vice president for RealPlayer, responded by stating: "I actually admire what StopBadware is trying to do to keep consumers safe. But in this case the only thing bad is the report itself. Here’s why: Not a single claim raised by StopBadware actually hurts anyone."[59]

The RealPlayer Message Center has caused controversy due to its pop-up advertisements. In previous versions of the program the Message Center had a reputation for being difficult to turn off completely. In RealPlayer 11 it will not appear unless it is turned on by the user.

When RealPlayer for Windows is installed, a process called tkbell.exe will run automatically each time the computer starts up, and may appear on the list of active processes as realsched.exe. The process is linked to the Message Center and can also check for updates to the program. The process is non-essential and is not considered to be harmful, but has been seen as a nuisance by some users.[60] It can be disabled by altering the settings of RealPlayer's Message Center.[61]

Earlier Windows versions of RealPlayer experienced a problem with the volume control, where muting the sound in the program would also mute all system sounds.[62]

Real Alternative

Real Alternative is a discontinued software bundle that allows users to play RealMedia files without installing RealPlayer.[63][64] The last version, 2.02, was released on February 19, 2010. It included Media Player Classic.[65][66]

Beginning in 2010, RealNetworks sued Hilbrand Edskes, a 26-year old Dutch webmaster for having inserted hyperlinks to Real Alternative on his website RealNetworks alleges that Real Alternative is a reverse engineered package.[67] Meanwhile,[64] and FileHippo[63] continue to host the software product, unchallenged.[68]

See also


  1. ^ "RealPlayer 1.1.5 Build". Softpedia. SoftNews NET SRL. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "RealNetworks, Inc. Releases Update to Address Security Vulnerabilities". RealNetworks, Inc. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "RealPlayer GOLD". Softpedia. SoftNews NET SRL. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "RealPlayer 1.1". Softpedia. SoftNews NET SRL. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "RealPlayer for Android". CBS Interactive. July 14, 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Supported Formats by RealOne Player". Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  8. ^ "msbatch.inf - Unattended and Customized Installation of Windows 98". Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  9. ^ "RealPlayer - Multiple Editions". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  10. ^ "Helix Community License". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  11. ^ By website optimization on 18 Jan 2008 AM (2008-01-18). "iTunes Passes RealPlayer in Unique Users". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  12. ^ "How do I download and install RealPlayer?". Retrieved 2010-06-14. 
  13. ^ "Apple Bites into Microsoft's Streaming Media Lead - US Broadband Penetration Grows to 95.3% Among Active Internet Users - March 2010 Bandwidth Report". BBC. Retrieved 2010-06-04. 
  14. ^ "AT&T A2B Music". 1997. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  15. ^ "Adobe SVG". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  16. ^ "Audible Audio". Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-16.  Audible software list does not include RealPlayer plugin.
  17. ^ "DiamondBack Vision Partners With Media 100 To Explore MPEG-4 Internet Streaming Solution For Cleaner(TM)". 2001-04-23. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  18. ^ "eBeam Presenter Download". Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  19. ^ "Digital Bitcasting". 2004-01-21. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
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  26. ^ Alvear, José (2000-05-29). "RealNetworks' Time to Shine: Real Conference 2000". 
  27. ^ "RichFX Plugin Download". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. 
  28. ^ "Mode2Real Info and download". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  29. ^ "Mimio broadCast Info". Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2010-07-17. 
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  31. ^ "Be Here To Debut Its iVideo Plug-in At Real Conference 2000". 2000-05-23. Archived from the original on 2005-04-16. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  32. ^ "iPix Plug-In Download". 2005-10-10. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  33. ^ "ScreenWatch Plug-In Download". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  34. ^ "RealNetworks Acquires Vivo". 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  35. ^ Jones, Christopher (2009-01-04). "RealPlayer to support MJuice".,1367,34155,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  36. ^ "RealPlayer Supported Formats (Blue Matter)". Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  37. ^ Clark, Scott (1998-12-11). "OZ.Com announces fluid3d for RealPlayer". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  38. ^ Smith, Tony (1999-04-12). "RealNetworks backs IBM digital music system". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  39. ^ "VP5 plugin for RealPlayer 1.0 download". 2005-07-25. Retrieved 2010-07-17.  Google closes on On2 acquisition, February 2010.
  40. ^ "RealPlayer to support VP5". On2. Archived from the original on 2002-06-06. Retrieved 2010-07-17.  Google closes on On2 acquisition, February 2010.
  41. ^ "VP4 for RealPlayer is available". On2. 2002-01-22. Archived from the original on 2002-02-06. Retrieved 2010-08-17.  Google closes on On2 acquisition, February 2010.
  42. ^ "VP3 for RealPlayer". Newsforge. Archived from the original on 2002-02-14.  Google closes on On2 acquisition, February 2010.
  43. ^ "ImagePower's JPEG2000 Technology Compatible with RealPlayer". Archived from the original on 2003-12-06. 
  44. ^ "Can Realplayer play 3gp files?". Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  45. ^ "Sanyo 3D Surround". Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. 
  46. ^ VTuner Plus
  47. ^ SticksterZ 1.1
  48. ^ "RealPlayer Enterprise". Real Networks. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  49. ^ "Realplayer Enterprise Education Edition download". Real Networks. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  50. ^ "RealNetworks announces RealPlayer 10 for Mac OS X". 2004-06-28. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  51. ^ "Release notes from". Versiontracker. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  52. ^ "RealPlayer for palmOne Handhelds". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  53. ^ Richard M. Smith (1999-10-31). "The RealJukebox Monitoring System". Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  54. ^ Amy Borrus (2000-02-14). "The Privacy War of Richard Smith". Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  55. ^ a b Tynan, Dan (2006-03-26). "The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time". PC World.,aid,125772,pg,2,00.asp. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  56. ^ "RealJukebox Update download page". Real Networks. 1999-11-28. Archived from the original on 1999-11-28. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  57. ^ Tynan, Dan (2007-04-16). "The 20 Most Annoying Tech Products". PC World.,130638-page,2-c,techindustrytrends/article.html. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  58. ^ "StopBadware Report: Realplayer". 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  59. ^ "Real’s Response to blog entry". 2008-02-19. Archived from the original on 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  60. ^ Maurer, James. "What is '''tkbell.exe'''?". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  61. ^ Sodani, Oscar (2004-07-07). "Disable RealPlayer realsched.exe". Help2Go. Archived from the original on 2006-01-11. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  62. ^ User Telstar (2005-07-26). "Adjusting RealPlayer volume affects Comp volume settings". Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  63. ^ a b "Real Alternative 2.02". FileHippo. Retrieved August 29, 2011. 
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  68. ^ Masnick, Mike (August 26, 2011). "RealNetworks Destroying Dutch Webmaster's Life Because He Linked To A Reverse Engineered Alternative". TechDirt. Retrieved August 29, 2011. 

Further reading

External links

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