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Linux is fantastic for variety. There are dozens of video players to choose from and they’ll all get the job done — so which one should you use? Which one is right for you? Variety is great, but who has the time to sift through it all?

My two favorite video players, at least prior to writing this piece, were MPC-HC Looking For A Lightweight Media Player? Try Media Player Classic - Home Cinema [Windows] Looking For A Lightweight Media Player? Try Media Player Classic - Home Cinema [Windows] As of 2012, there are a ton of media players available on the market, and many of them are free. With such a large selection, sometimes it can be hard to pick which software will... Read More and PotPlayer Does Your Media Player Suck? Try A Unique Alternative: Daum PotPlayer [Windows] Does Your Media Player Suck? Try A Unique Alternative: Daum PotPlayer [Windows] Whenever we have written an article about great media players, people were quick to remind us of PotPlayer. Once we checked it out, we had to agree that it was indeed pretty awesome. So the... Read More . Unfortunately, both are only available on Windows, which leaves me in a bind when it comes to watching my beloved videos.

So I set out on a journey to narrow down the wide selection of Linux video players to the best of the best. Here’s what I found.

MPV

MPV is a relatively new video player that’s been skyrocketing in popularity over the past few months. It’s a fork of mplayer2, which is itself a fork of the original MPlayer. What does that mean for you?

Refinement, quality, ease of use, and a beautifully minimal interface that gets out of the way and lets you watch your videos without distraction.

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Like MPlayer, MPV is a command line tool that opens up in a graphical player once you load a file. What’s great, however, is that MPV revamped the command line parser to be more consistent with other Linux command line tools, so if you like MPlayer, there’s a good chance you’ll like MPV even more.

As far as the interface, there are only a handful of things you need to bother with: playback control, a fullscreen button, a seekbar, and selectors for audio tracks and subtitle tracks. It has everything you need and none of the bloat.

MPV is built on FFmpeg so it can support nearly all codecs and formats, both common and uncommon.

SMPlayer

Technically speaking, SMPlayer isn’t its own video player. It’s actually a graphical frontend for MPlayer that wraps the command line tool with an intuitive interface that lets you watch videos without having to know anything about the terminal.

linux-video-players-smplayer

In terms of features, SMPlayer is one of the most complete packages out there — even if you compare it against video players on other operating systems. It has playlists, configurable subtitles, support for streamed radio and TV, and a lot of preferences to play with.

It also supports custom skins, which is good since the default look feels a bit dated.

There’s even more good news: SMPlayer is compatible with the aforementioned MPV, which basically wraps the awesomeness of MPV within SMPlayer’s interface. Use this combination to get the best of all worlds.

GNOME Videos

Formerly known as Totem, this video player is so nice that we included it in our list of Best Linux Software The Best Linux Software The Best Linux Software Linux is full of awesome apps, both open source and proprietary. People new to Linux and even seasoned Linux users tend to find new and useful software quite often. Here's what we love. Read More . As the name implies, Videos is the default video player that comes bundled with most GNOME environments, and as such, it integrates well with other GNOME elements like Nautilus.

linux-video-players-gnome-videos

Because Videos is used by such a broad audience, it doesn’t try to specialize in any meaningful way and doesn’t offer much in the way of customization. Rather, its sole purpose is to play video files without any hassle — which it does flawlessly.

Videos doesn’t come with a wide range of codecs straight out of the box, but if you attempt to play a video without the proper codec installed, Videos will prompt you with a one-click install solution. Very fast and convenient.

Other features include a playlist sidebar (which can be toggled), minimal interface, and a built-in YouTube search that allows you to browse and play YouTube videos (as well as related videos) without ever leaving Videos.

Miro

What if a video player isn’t enough? In this modern age, there’s so much to consider when it comes to media management, like keeping sync’d across multiple devices, converting formats, and even sharing playback across a local network.

With Miro, you get a complete media experience within one single application and it will drastically simplify your life.

linux-video-players-miro

Right off the bat, Miro can convert files to be compatible with Android and Kindle Fire. This is great because Miro can also buy and download files directly from Amazon, YouTube, and torrents and you won’t have to worry about making sure the formats are right. This is true for both video and music files.

The interface isn’t bad either. There’s an iTunes feel to it but without any of the slow performance that iTunes is known for. Once you start playing a video, the sidebar disappears and the playback takes main stage. When two Miro devices are on the same WiFi network, they can even transfer and stream between each other.

It’s a little overkill if you just want to play individual videos on demand, but if you need a centralized way to organize your video library, Miro is a fantastic way to do it.

VLC

Lastly, we have VLC. It’s one of the most — if not the most — popular video players in the world and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. After all these years, the developers (along with open source contributors) continue to push out new features and updates.

But does it deserve the reputation that it has? Absolutely. After all, VLC has been a pioneering force since it first hit the scene back in the early 2000s.

linux-video-players-vlc

It supports nearly every codec and format thanks to its FFmpeg foundation and it has a bunch of filters that can change the way video is displayed, even going as far as outputting video as ASCII art 6 Cool VLC Tips & Tricks You Might Not Know About 6 Cool VLC Tips & Tricks You Might Not Know About VideoLan's VLC media player is a real box of tricks and is just as effective on a Windows operating system as it is on Mac or Linux. Those of you who are already using VLC... Read More . My favorite feature is the ability to play video streams directly as long as you obtain the proper URLs.

And if the default functionality of VLC isn’t enough for you, you are free to write scripts that alter or add onto the core features. But before you do that, be sure to check out these amazing VLC features 6 More VLC Media Player Features You Must Try 6 More VLC Media Player Features You Must Try VLC is a media player more powerful than you might realize. Are you using it to its full potential? Here are some pointers. Read More that you probably didn’t know existed.

If you’ve never used VLC before, you’re missing out. Just give it a try. You won’t regret it. (And don’t forget that VLC is now available for Android What Is The Best Video Player For Android? What Is The Best Video Player For Android? Read More , too.)

Which One Do You Like Best?

It’s a hard choice for me. I’m impressed by the all-in-one nature of Miro and by the incredible simplicity of MPV. SMPlayer and VLC are both widely loved and I find it difficult to think of reasons not to use them. And then there’s Videos, which is more than enough for most people.

I’ll probably stick with Videos but they’re all winners. At this point it all comes down to preference, so pick the one that appeals most to you and smile.

Tell us what you think. Which one is best suited for your needs? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

  1. Ile
    July 5, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Banshee has been the best working one for me.

    • Joel Lee
      July 13, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      I loved Banshee years ago but it seems like it hasn't been updated since 2014. Do you find it to be glitchy or buggy at all? Or is it all fine and dandy?

  2. David
    May 11, 2016 at 5:28 am

    I am new to Linux as of yesterday. I just installed Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon Rosa yesterday. I have a hand-made computer with fresh install and no other operating system with the latest bells and whistles as far as motherboard and CPU are concerned, but no DVD drive. I plugged in a USB external drive and tinkered with the settings in both VLC and Videos and found Videos player to offer the best experience. I never could get VLC to play full-screen. That being said, I doubt I could explain to anyone else in my household, meaning the wife and kid how to watch a DVD on this computer. So far everything on my computer works well, but can't get the motherboard wi-fi to show up anywhere. Anyone that thinks that can straighten me out, please email me at: dlocklear01 at gmail dot com. Is there any way to get a DVD to
    play automatically, or at least reduce the number of things I need to click on ??

  3. bob
    April 24, 2016 at 12:53 am

    Get MPV if you don't want a graphical frontend. Both Bomi and Gnome MPV are also great frontends for mpv.

  4. Clay
    March 27, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Question: Is there a linux player that has similar hotkeys to that of PotPlayer? The reason why I used PotPlayer on Windows was because I did not like VLC's interface and hotkeys. Now that I have ditched Windows for Linux(permanently!), I am sorely missing PotPlayer because I was so comfortable with it's excellent layout, especially the "spacebar" to pause and "enter" key to maximize/minimize... along with the brightness, contrast, saturation, and hue hotkeys. For the life of me, I cannot seem to get a handle on VLC's hotkeys. Every time someone says "Just use VLC", I get very frustrated, and NO one mentions whether the interface is the same as, or close to PotPlayer on websites that list Linux alternatives to PotPlayer. Maddening.

    • abn
      March 30, 2016 at 7:54 am

      you can edit hot keys in VLC and try new Skins

    • Josef
      November 18, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Same! I used PotPlayer because it remembers your playlist, and it remembers where you were in the last file you played. It makes it great to watch series as you can just open it up, press play, and it will just continue where you left off. Did you ever find an equivalent?

  5. Kokos
    December 19, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Bomi is the best for me, but it is shame couse not developing :(

    • Joel Lee
      December 23, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      I really like Bomi! But yeah, it's a shame that development is on hiatus.

  6. Paolo Sama
    November 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Hi, do you know a player that allows to make a playlist where it's possible even to specify for each clip from which moment till which moment to play? E.g. a 2 h movie, take only from 1:25 till 1:30? I'm looking for such a player to make a playlist to play e.g. during a party... if this doesn't exist I guess I should make it via command line... or better code a gui that at least lets me save the "from" and "to" for each file... so I don't need to type it manually...

  7. Cipricus Ceperche
    September 30, 2015 at 9:21 pm
  8. Cestarian
    April 28, 2015 at 12:15 am

    Bomi is the number one player for me (Mpv but with a GUI and upscaling algorithms (even has lanzcos))

  9. Jim
    March 5, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    All look like very decent players, but do any of the work on the 'new' Chromebooks? In particular I'm seeking out a player that will also play wmv video format or at least convert it to play from a Chromebook.

    • Joel
      March 10, 2015 at 4:00 am

      I wish I could give you an answer but I don't have any experience with Chromebooks. As far as I know, Chromebooks can't play WMV because it's a proprietary Windows format, so you'll need to convert it.

      I've heard good things about the web app Zamzar for video conversion. Give it a try.

    • UnhappyGhost
      March 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Zamzar is good but I prefer to upload it to youtube as private or unlisted video (to avoid video rights stuff) and watch it over there :D

  10. Kenneth DeVries
    March 5, 2015 at 6:29 am

    I went with VLC after other players had trouble with subtitles - VLC never has any problem with them but some of the hyped features like streaming from youtube have never worked for me. One feature I have seen in other players which it conspicuously lacks is the ability to remember where you stopped watching. The media player in the Chinese linux distro Deepin was great, but the distro itself was a little too quirky to keep using, and by accident or design hijacked me into a botnet. I have mostly been too lazy to look at other players - until now. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Kenneth DeVries
      March 5, 2015 at 8:04 am

      It didn't take long to try out a couple of these. Miro didn't work for me at all in Xubuntu - wouldn't play anything. SMPlayer looks pretty good - doesn't show subtitles on some of my mkv files of old Hungarian and Italian movies, but when it shows subs they can be controlled by keyboard shortcuts. To change subtitle size in VLC requires opening the preferences window - not very convenient. No satisfaction trying to stream from youtube, but it remembers what you played recently and where you were, which is a big plus for me.

    • Joel
      March 10, 2015 at 3:57 am

      I've run into streaming issues on VLC before too, except those happened on Windows. Once I switched to Linux, it seemed to work fine. I guess VLC is losing a lot of its polish over time, which is a shame.

    • UnhappyGhost
      March 10, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      The new feature that VLC introduced in its recent update about remember where you stopped and offering to resume it right where you left is a feature that lot existed in XBMC. Video streaming from youtube etc works good in VLC. One more options that i dont like about VLC now is that in earlier versions you could boost the sound and go way above 200% but now its not possible, but with XBMC you can boost it way lot more for the video files that have poorly encoded audio or that have a very low volume.

  11. UnhappyGhost
    March 4, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    XBMC and Parole are good as well, I use XBMC for all video and audio formats and so far haven't come across any complains and to put in one word, it made me switch from VLC as my primary choice for all audio/video format. Now VLC is my backup player! There are loads of stuff to check with XBMC

    • Joel
      March 10, 2015 at 3:55 am

      I thought XMBC died but apparently it just changed its name to Kodi. At first glance, it looks awesome! Now I'm a bit sad that I wasn't aware of it when I was reviewing all of these video players. Thanks for the heads up.

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