VLC Media Player is without doubt one of the most popular free video players. Much of the appeal comes from the fact that it plays nearly any audio or video file that you throw at it without having to deal with codecs at all.
That's not all though, it is cross-platform, Open Source, and ships with loads of other features that you can make use of.
If you are a VLC user who just uses the player to play video or audio files without having looked at the preferences once, you may miss out on some great features that improve your multimedia experience significantly.
This tips and tricks guide looks at those hidden gems, features, and preferences that you may want to take a closer look at.
Lets get started, shall we?
1. Hide media title on start
VLC Media Player displays the title of the file that you are playing when you start it. While this may be useful for some purposes, for instance if you play multiple short videos one after the other without break, it overshadows part of the screen for a couple of seconds during the beginning.
To disable the feature do the following:
You can alternatively change the position of the title instead from the default bottom position.
2. Do not save recently played videos
VLC maintains a history of recently watched items which can be accessed under Media > Open Recent Media in the player interface. That's useful if you want to play a video or audio file again, not so much if you are privacy-conscious and prefer to keep past audio and video plays private.
To disable the feature do the following:
Note that the change requires a restart of VLC before it takes effect. The Open Recent Media option in the menu won't be there anymore.
3. Create video screenshots
If you want to create a quick screenshot of a video, you can do so right from within VLC Media Player. To do so right-click the video and select Video > Take Snapshot from the context menu.
The snapshot is shown as a small thumbnail for a second or two after you hit that button. The snapshots are saved to the directory that is specified in the preferences under Video. If nothing is specified there, it will be saved to the default pictures directory. On Windows, that is the My Pictures folder on most systems.
4. Internet Radio and podcasts
You can play audio files with VLC Media Player out of the box. What some of you may not know is that you can also play Internet radio and podcasts in VLC.
The player ships with several Internet radio sources that you can tune in right away. Just select View > Playlist, and select Internet there.
A list of options becomes available, including Jamendo, Icecast or the option to play Podcasts to the player. Note that it may take a while before some of the available services populate with results.
You can install extensions in VLC that extend or modify the player's default functionality. This works similar to how browser extensions are installed in Firefox or Google Chrome.
While you won't find thousands of extensions for VLC, you do find a handful of interesting ones. There is the online radio ad blocker extension for example, VLSub which adds subtitle searching and downloading to VLC, or Micro Controls, a small control interface for the player.
Extensions are installed by downloading them from the VLC website and move it to the \lua\extensions folder of the VLC installation directory.
6. Audio Normalization
VLC Media Player offers several audio options that you may find interesting. One of them is the normalizer that you can enable in the audio settings. It basically sets the volume of every track you play to the same level so that you do not have to sit through audio that is either too high or too low in volume.
Note that the change takes effect starting with the next video or audio file you play in VLC after you make the change.
7. Advanced Preferences
The program displays simple preferences by default. You can switch that to all preferences instead which gives you additional configuration options.
To switch, simply open the preferences once more and select All instead of Simply in the lower left corner of the screen.
8. Shutdown VLC after playback
If you like to watch a video or listen to audio while you are falling asleep, you may like the idea of your system shutting down when that happens, so that it is not running all night long.
There is no option in VLC to shut down the PC after playback, but you can make use of batch scripts that are posted on the Videolan website to do so.
9. Play RAR files
VLC can play unprotected RAR files. Just load the first part (if there are several) into the player and it will start to play the video or audio just fine.
10. Make use of hotkeys
The media player supports hotkeys and several are pre-set so that you can start using them right away. You can modify the hotkeys under Preferences > Hotkeys.
Here you find two different states. First hotkeys that work when the player is the active window on the system, and the second global hotkeys that allow you to control the player even if it is not the active window. The second option is great for things like controlling playback while you are doing something else on the computer.
11. Top hotkeys you need to know
Here is a short list of default hotkeys that you may find useful:
12. Convert videos
13. Customize the interface
You can change the VLC Media Player interface to a degree. Select Tools > Customize Interface to get started. Here you can add or remove icons from toolbars via drag & drop.
For instance, if you never use the random icon, you may want to remove it to clean up the interface. You can also add buttons to it, for instance the DVD menu button which may come in useful if you play a lot of DVDs in VLC.
You can bookmark video and audio positions in VLC. This can be useful if you want your favorite part of a song or scene of a video on fast dial at all times.
Just open the bookmarks menu using Ctrl-B while the video or audio is playing, and click on create to add a new bookmark that links to the current position of it.
15. Pimp VLC with Skins
If you do not like the plain look and feel of VLC, you can load a custom skin instead which changes how the interface of the player looks.
You can browse a selection of skins on the VLC website.
Download the skins individually or all at once from the website and double-click the downloaded file to load a new instance of VLC using it.
This acts as a preview and is only valid for the active session. To select a new skin permanently, select Tools > Preferences in VLC. Select Interface > Use custom skin there and pick the new skin that you have downloaded
These tips are just the tip of the iceberg. VLC Media Player is a versatile program which is one reason why it is such a popular program. I'd like to know if you have tips of your own, if you use VLC. If so, feel free to share them with us all in the comment section below.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.