Tutorial on how to open a 3GP file

What is a 3GP file

Before we explain what a 3GP file really is, you must understand what 3G is and what it stands for. 3G stands for third generation, which is a generic term for high speed mobile data delivery in cellular phone networks.

The term is used in the wireless industry. 3G networks allow their users to receive and send large quantities of information that consumes a lot of bandwidth. This information can come in the form of video, high quality audio, video conferencing, and web data on-demand. This info can be received and sent anytime and from anywhere.

Now that we know what 3G is, let’s see what 3GP is. 3GP is the new mobile phone video format. 3GPP and 3GPP2 set a new standard for the creation, delivery, and playback of any kind of multimedia. These standards can send and receive info only through third generation high speed wireless networks. 3GPP is the abbreviation for Third Generation Partnership Project. Its extension is .3gp and is designed to deliver rich multimedia to the latest multimedia-enable wireless devices.

Having said this, there is only one more problem: How do we open them on a computer? Although mobile devices can open these files with ease, a computer has some difficulties. The 3GP file format is not recognized by Windows. This means we need a tool to open them under Windows.

Finding and downloading the perfect tool

One of the best tools available today is VLC media player. This player can open almost any file type and is a cross-platform application. It can surely open the 3GP files with ease. So let’s see how we find and download the tool. To obtain a clean file, you must download it from the developer’s website. In this case, http://www.videolan.org/vlc/:

VideoLAN main page

As you can see, this software is completely free and can be copied and redistributed freely. Also, since 34,060,789 people have downloaded this tool, it is surely safe to download, install, and use it. The download link is right on the main page. Select your operating system and click on it. In our case, we will click ob Windows:

Choose the version

You will reach the main download page, like the one above. You can choose different packages, all free. Let’s download the latest version, VLC media player 0.9.8a. We will also choose the self-extracting package for an easy installation. Go ahead and click download:

Save file

This box asks us if we want to save the file. Click Save file and choose an easy to remember location on your hard drive. Save the file to that location. Before we get to the actual installation, it is best practice to save the file on a CD or DVD so you can have easy access to it later. Whenever you reinstall Windows, you will need to reinstall VLC as well.

Installing VLC media player

Once the file is saved on a CD or DVD, double click it (from the hard drive or from the removable media – it does not make any difference). Here is what should appear:

Security warning

This is a security warning and it is here for a reason. Whenever you download a file from the Internet, you are putting yourself and your computer at risk. Always download from the developer’s official website. Otherwise, you might receive a file that is packed with viruses, worms, Trojans, and tracking software. These malicious pieces of code can steal confidential and private data, damage your data, or even damage your computer physically. If downloading a file poses these threats, imagine what running that file can do. This is why Windows is alerting you.

As you can see, the publisher is unknown. However, since we know where we downloaded it from, we can trust the installer. Go ahead and click Run:


The installer asks you what language you would prefer. Choose your language. For this tutorial, I will choose English. You will reach the next screen:


This is the welcome screen. Take the time to read the info. For example, we are advised to close all other applications before starting the installation. This can make the difference between a clean install and a reboot. Close all running applications and click Next. Here is what you will see:

License agreement

This is the License Agreement. VLC media player is a free software and can be freely copied or distributed. Take the time to read the agreement. There is nothing that can restrict your rights. If, however, you do not agree, clicking Cancel will terminate the installation. So, after you have read it, click I Agree. You will see the following window:

Installation type

As you can see from this window, there are several types of install: Recommended, Minimum, Full, or Custom. Since the program is free, why not have the full package? Select the Full type of install. In the bottom left side of the window you will see how much space is required for the installation (60MB). After you are done with this window, click Next:

The installation folder

We will have to choose the folder where VLC media player will be installed. It is best to leave the path as it is. It will be installed in Program Files, where all your other applications are. Make sure you have enough disk space available. As you see from the screenshot, the program needs 60MB and I have over 20GB. This is quite enough. Once everything is set, click Install:

The actual installation

VLC media player will be installed. It should take under 2 minutes, depending on your computer. Once the installation is finished, go to your desktop and double click on VLC media player. Here is what should appear:

The privacy policy

As you can see, the VideoLan Team is fair an clearly states that this tool will never send or collect any information about you. Leave the Album art policy at Manual download only. Also, it is useful to activate the updates availability notification. Leave the number of days between two update checks at 7. Click OK and VLC media player should start:

3gp file playback

After you click Media and Open (shortcut CTRL + O), choose a 3GP file. In the screenshot above, you can see that a .3gp file is running. So VLC really works! Congratulations!

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