VLC is probably the most versatile video player you can download due to its amazing ability to play almost any codec you throw at it. This alone makes this app a worthy addition to your software suite. While most people use VLC as a simple video player, it is so much more than that. VLC is the Swiss Army Knife of video players with features that are hidden and unknown to the casual user.
These features include the ability to do video recording, playing Internet radio and video, simple editing; just to name a few. To go through the number of hidden features VLC has could fill an entire wiki (which it does). So instead of you reading through the incredibly technical wiki, we have gathered the best 20 VLC tips and tricks you may not know.
Note: The tips included here are done using the Windows version of VLC, unless specified.
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1. Convert Media Files
Did you know that you can use VLC to convert your media files into a wide variety of formats? The app lets you choose exactly how you would like to convert them or you can simply use a given preset.
Here’s how you do it.
- Go to Media > Convert / Save
- Add a file and click Convert / Save
- Select the desired codec to convert to.
2. Play/Download Online Videos
You can actually use VLC to play and download online videos. You can use the full suite of tools to manipulate video playback or save them for later play.
- Go to Media > Open Network Stream
- Press the Network tab
- Enter the URL of the video and click Play, to save it, instead of Play, choose Convert
3. Record A Currently Playing Video/Audio
If you want to record and capture a snippet of a video that you are playing, VLC has an option to do so. To enable this feature, on the menu bar, click View > Advanced Controls. Extra buttons will appear on the app. While playing a media file, click on the Record button to start recording. Press again to stop.
Recordings will be saved in the Videos folder for videos while audio will go to your Music folder. On the Mac version, go to the menu bar and click Playback > Record or use the shortcut CMD + ALT + r.
4. Record Desktop
VLC is able to record a video of your desktop, acting as a screen recorder. To enable desktop recording, here’s what to do:
- Go to Media > Convert / Save
- Go to the Capture Device tab
- On the Capture mode drop down menu, select Desktop
- Select your frame rate under Desired frame rate for the capture
- Click Convert / Save
- Select your codec and the destination and click Start. To stop recording, click the Stop button.
5. Record Webcam
You can record a video in VLC using the webcam. Go to Media > Open Capture Device and select DirectShow from the Capture mode drop menu. From here you will select the video and audio device from where it will capture. Click Play and VLC will stream from your webcam. Use VLC’s ability to record currently playing video and you have yourself a webcam recorder.
(Image Source: AddictiveTips)
6. Rip A DVD
Did you know you can use VLC to rip your DVD’s into your computer? It’s a simple way to create an archive of your DVD’s for backup purposes or a way to view them when you do not have access to the physical disc.
- Go to Media > Convert / Save
- Click on the Disc tab
- Under Disc Selection, click on the radio button of the media disc you are using and check No disc menu
- Make sure the selected Disc device is correct and click Convert / Save
- Choose the codec you wish to save in and save it with the extension that is compatible with your codec
7. Remote Control VLC From A Browser
There is an option available to use a web browser as a simple remote control for VLC. This is incredibly useful when running VLC on a media center PC, as you can control it using a laptop or your mobile phone.
To enable this feature:
- Go to Tools > Preference
- Click the radio box All under Show settings.
- Go to Interface > Main Interface and tick the Web check box
- Under Interface > Main > Lua, set the Lua HTTP Password
Remote control through the browser should now be enabled.
To test this, on your browser with VLC installed, go to localhost:8080. It will ask for the password and once given, it should display a remote control interface for VLC. To use this on another device, you will need to find the IP address of your devices’s browser. Add the address on your device’s browser with :8080 appended to it, for example 18.104.22.168:8080. Your device is now a simple VLC remote.
8. Video And Audio Effects
VLC gives you a multitude of tools that allows you to manipulate the video and audio of any given media. To see the tools available, go to Tools > Adjustments and Effects. From here, you will see tabs that contain the A/V manipulation tools. On the video side, you can adjust colors, crop, rotate video, add filters, etc. With audio, you get the usual equalizers to tune your music.
9. Subscribe To Podcast
If you are looking for a very simple podcast subscription app, VLC can fill that need. You can use the app to subscribe to your favorite video and audio podcast and view them all within the app.
To subscribe to a podcast, got to the Playlist sidebar, under Internet, there is a Podcast option. Hover your mouse cursor over it and a + will appear. Click on it and add the RSS for your podcast. On the Mac version, go to the Podcast option and press Subscribe to add the RSS URL.
10. Play Internet Radio
VLC provides Internet Radio channels on its Playlist sidebar for you to browse and search for online radio stations. If the provided stations don’t interest you, you can play your favorite channel by getting the station’s URL and opening it using Media > Open Network Stream.
11. Video Wallpaper
Ever wanted to have a video playing as your desktop wallpaper? There is a simple way to toggle this using VLC. Go to Tools > Preference. Click on Video and under the Output drop down box, select DirectX (DirectDraw) video output. Save and restart VLC. The next time you play a video, an option will appear on the right-click menu under Video to play as a Set as Wallpaper. Choose it and the video will then start playing as your desktop background.
12. Add Watermarks On Video
You can add your own watermarks on a video through VLC, bypassing a need for a dedicated video editor to do so. Do remember though that you will need to use VLC’s recording feature to save the video with the watermark.
- Go to Tools > Effects and Filters
- Click on the Video Effects tab
- Under the Overlay tab, you will get options to either add in your logo or a simple text to the video
13. Play Video As ASCII Characters
For a bit of fun, VLC allows you to display a video all in ACSII characters. To enable this fun feature, here’s what you do:
- Go to Tools > Preference
- Click on Video
- Under the Output drop down box, choose Color ASCII art video output
Your video will now be displayed entirely in ACSII. Now try watching ‘The Matrix’ like this.
14. Play Media Contained In Archive Files
If you have a ZIP or RAR file that contains a media file, you can actually play them within VLC without extracting them. Simply open them with VLC and it will play all of the files contained within.
If the file is broken up into pieces, just open the first part of the archive in VLC, making sure all the files are within the same place. This is a good tip when you don’t want to waste space decompressing the video.
15. Scrobble To Last.fm
If you are a heavy Last.fm user, you can scrobble the music you play through VLC. To enable it, got to Tools > Preference. On the Show settings radio box, click All. Click on Interface > Control interfaces and tick the check box for Submission of played songs to Last.fm. Then, under Interface > Control interfaces > Audioscrobbler, enter in your Last.fm credentials.
16. Take A Snapshot
Ever need to take a snapshot of a video you are watching? VLC has a way to do so. Simply use the shotcut Shift + s on Windows and Linux or CMD + ALT + s on OS X. The picture will be saved in your OS’s respective pictures folder.
17. Bookmark A Video
You can bookmark a part of a video so that you can return to it later on, if you feel like replaying a certain part of a video. To bookmark a video, go to Playback > Custom Bookmarks > Manage. The Edit Bookmarks window will pop up. Press the Create button when at a section of a video you would like to bookmark.
18. Add Subtitles
If a video you have doesn’t come with subtitles, you can add your own by finding an SRT subtitle file for the video and adding it in. To add the subtitle, play your video and go to Subtitle on the menu bar and click Add Subtitle File. If you want VLC to play it automatically, place the SRT file in the same folder as the video and make sure it uses the same file name as the video file.
19. Double Or Slow Down The Playback Speed
This feature is incredibly useful when you are watching a media file primarily for the content, such as podcast, audiobooks, recorded lectures, etc. To start, press ] to fast forward by 0.1x for each press. To slow it down, press [ instead. On the Mac, there is a slider to control playback speed, located in Playback.
20. Extensions And Plugins
Just like Firefox, you can extend the functionality and appearance of your VLC player. There are a variety of extensions and skins available on the VideoLAN site. Take a look and see what appeals to you.
Some of the extensions enable you to automatically get subtitles, info on the actors, as well as lyrics to songs, among other things. Skins, on the other hand, allow you to modify the look of your media player and there are many available that are sure to fit your taste.