So, you’ve installed Ubuntu and you’ve realised that you can’t play any of your MP3 files? Don’t worry, it is a limitation, but we have a great workaround that’ll let you play all of your MP3 music files again. Even better, you can do this in just 5 simple-to-follow steps! What are you waiting for? Let’s make Ubuntu play MP3 files within any media playing application.

Why Ubuntu Won’t Play MP3 Files

It is a question I get asked a lot by people who switch to Ubuntu – “Why won’t Ubuntu play MP3 files?” – well, there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, the MP3 codecs aren’t free. You can play the files on your Windows computer or your Mac because the creators of the operating systems have licensed the use of the MP3 codec. This is part of the reason why the companies make you purchase their software, because in turn they have had to purchase the codecs to allow you to utilise them to play MP3 files (amongst other things).

If Ubuntu were to bundle the MP3 codecs into the operating system they would have to do this at a cost, which would mean that you’d need to purchase the operating system. They want to keep things free and open-source, and they can’t do that if they bundle in commercial software/licensing. Luckily there are a few different ways in which to make Ubuntu play MP3 files, but we are going to focus on the most easy of techniques that any Ubuntu user should be able to follow, whether you are an expert or a novice.

Make Ubuntu Play Mp3 Files

The following steps will guide you through the process to make Ubuntu play MP3 files.

  1. Click on Applications at the top of the screen and select Ubuntu Software Center.
  2. Click on View and make sure the option is selected for All Software.
  3. In the search box type in Restricted Extras – some results will show up, one of them will be a package called Ubuntu Restricted Extras – click onto it and then click onto the Install button.
  4. You will be prompted to enter your password. Type it in and click Authenticate.
  5. Close out of Ubuntu Software Center when the package is installed and fire up your media player, such as Rhythmbox Music Player and open up an MP3 file. You should find that it will play the media without any issues.

That is all there is to it, nice and straightforward. You’ve now been able to make Ubuntu play MP3 files without even breaking into a sweat. If you still find that the MP3 files won’t play, then just restart your computer and open up your media player again and it should work without any issues.

There are some other ways to make Ubuntu play MP3 files – one frequently used technique is to download VLC Media Player from the Ubuntu Software Center and it’ll allow you to play MP3 files within VLC, but the technique above, while just as simple, will allow the MP3 files to be played within any media player.

Image Credit: Andrew Mason