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vlc tips and tricksVideoLan’s VLC media player is a real box of tricks. We’ve already established The VLC Media Player - Does it Really Play Everything? The VLC Media Player - Does it Really Play Everything? Read More that it pretty much plays everything, requires little in the way of system resources and is just as effective on a Windows operating system as it is on Mac or Linux.

If you’ve not used VLC in the past (and are desperate for a decent media solution) then I’d urge you to download it and give it a go. Those of you who are already using VLC might be surprised to know there’s a few features that don’t really get the recognition they deserve.

Here are a few VLC tips and tricks that will hopefully help you get more use and enjoyment from VLC.

Streaming Capabilities

One use for VLC that not many users are too familiar with is its capacity as a network streaming workhorse. As you can see from the diagram below, using VLC as a streaming solution for your media gives you one of the best cross-compatible media sharing setups around, especially useful if you have a variety of PCs and operating systems in your household.

vlc tips and tricks

If you’re looking to stream video from your home PC whilst you’re away then you can also set VLC to stream to the Internet. Dont forget to sort out your DNS settings Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS Read More beforehand for a pain-free connection!

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If you’re wondering how to get the most out of VLC’s streaming abilities, check out Angela’s detailed article Streaming Services: A Whole New Side To VLC Player You Probably Didn't Know About Streaming Services: A Whole New Side To VLC Player You Probably Didn't Know About Read More .

Rip & Transcode Videos

Whilst there are a number of good, free video converters 5 Easy-to-use Freeware Video Converters 5 Easy-to-use Freeware Video Converters Read More , why download even more software when you can already do it with VLC? Not only can VLC be used to convert video from one format to another, but it can also be used to rip disc-based media (video or music), live streams (television, cable, satellite) or network streams to file.

vlc tips tricks

To get started open VLC and click Media then Convert/Save. You’ll be presented with a dialogue which allows you to choose between converting, ripping and saving to file. Once you’ve added source media (to record from) click Convert/Save.

vlc tips tricks

The next window allows you to choose encoding settings such as codecs and output location. Don’t forget to have patience, transcoding video is resource-intensive and can take a while (regardless of how much the software costs).

Internet Radio & Podcast Management

Reaffirming its role as a multi-use media player, VLC also contains in-built Internet radio listings and a podcast How To Make Your Own Podcast For Free How To Make Your Own Podcast For Free Read More aid to boot. Simply open your Playlist and select Internet on the left. You should then see a number of services pop up including Icecast Radio and Jamendo Selections. It’s all free, and there’s full albums available if that’s your thing.

vlc tips tricks

If you’d like VLC to keep a track of podcasts then hover Podcasts in the Playlist and click on the plus symbol “+” that appears. Enter the podcast’s URL to add it to your database.

Video Effects

Partly useful, partly there for fun; there’s plenty you can do to your video files with VLC to spice things up a bit. Whilst playing a video (this works in real time) click Tools and then Effects and Filters to open the adjustments window.

vlc tips

Choose Video Effects from the first tab, and have a play around. You can adjust useful settings like gamma, brightness and hue should you have a poor-quality (too dark, bad white balance) video file. The other tabs are mostly reserved for fun, with crazy psychedelic and water effects to choose from as well as video rotation, text and logo overlay options.


If you’ve ever wanted, needed or tried to take a still image of a video then you may have had issues using the usual “print screen” methods. Luckily VLC features the ability to take a snapshot and save to .PNG format in a location of your choice.

vlc tips

You can either pause, jog and find the exact scene you want or take your shot during playback. With a video open in VLC, choose Video then Snapshot (or right click on the video and use the context menu). VLC will then show a brief overlay of the snapshot in the top left, and the snapshot will be saved to the location defined in Preferences then Video under Snapshot.

Play Video as ASCII Output

Last on the list as it has absolutely no real use, but will probably bring a grin to your face nonetheless. In VLC choose Tools then Preferences and click on Video. Under Output choose ASCII -art video output and click Save.

vlc tips and tricks

Now play a video and enjoy the amazing spectacle that is moving ASCII art. Useless, but fun!

Do you use VLC? Maybe you prefer SMPlayer or UMPlayer UMPlayer - Another Feature Packed Cross-Platform Media Player UMPlayer - Another Feature Packed Cross-Platform Media Player There's no shortage of quality free media players to entertain your eyes and ears, regardless of your computer or operating system. With cracking cost-free solutions like VLC and iTunes alternative JetAudio, you really shouldn't be... Read More ? Any of these tips useful? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. William H. Bowie
    July 8, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    VLC will not play .wvm.

  2. Mixed2dmax
    July 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    VLC is D bestestsys love that u can Play Video as ASCII Output.... Very Geeky "going to capture a picture of myself in ASCII... because i can and im a geek....

  3. Martin
    May 7, 2011 at 2:08 am

    I love the skin of Tim, what is the name of the skin? Martin

    • Tim Brookes
      May 8, 2011 at 8:27 am

      The skin in question is not a VLC skin but a theme for the window manager I use in Ubuntu.

      If you're interested the theme is called "Neutronium Sexyness" for the Emerald Window Decorator.


      • Martin
        May 9, 2011 at 6:50 am

        Hi Tim, thanks. I use Windows so such a skin is not available I understand. Too bad that there are no pretty skins available (I also checked the VLC skins site)

  4. Nmmaa_nmmaa
    April 30, 2011 at 6:41 am

    yeah i use it...pretty good but i dont like it's playlist

  5. Hfrankjr1
    April 29, 2011 at 12:05 am

    This isn't a trick per se, but a feature that's useful to students of foreign language. You can repeat a sentence over and over until it's seared into your brain. And change its speed to boot.
    I used to have to connect a tape end to end and loop it around to have it do this. Didn't work too well.

  6. Hfrankjr1
    April 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    This isn't a trick per se, but a feature that's useful to students of foreign language. You can repeat a sentence over and over until it's seared into your brain. And change its speed to boot.
    I used to have to connect a tape end to end and loop it around to have it do this. Didn't work too well.

  7. Sastier
    April 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Can play any region code!

  8. Rdpmd2
    April 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Are these features available in the MAC version of VLC? I have VLC v 1.1.9 and most of these are not present!

    • Tina
      April 27, 2011 at 12:23 am

      The features list on the Video Lan homepage doesn't reveal major difference between features supported on Windows and Mac, so I would think that these features are available.

      Why don't you try it and report back?

  9. Wrigsster
    April 15, 2011 at 2:39 am

    I have used VLC for years - it basically saves the bacon everytime you come across a dodgy codec somewhere.

    One feature of VLC not mentioned in this article is its ability to screen TV if you have a TV Card in your PC. All you need is to have a channels.conf file in your folder. Then it is simply File, Load and you load channels.conf and choose what channel you want to watch. If you are unsure on how to setup a channels.conf file just google it. i use Linux and used wscan to build the file - took all of about 2 minutes here in Perth Western Australia. it works a treat and is so darned fast.

  10. Oldgoat1957
    April 15, 2011 at 2:30 am

    Every time I read something about VLC, I find out something else it can do. It certainly is an impressive utility.

  11. Tim Turner
    April 14, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Uninstalled for UM Player. There's something I never liked about VLC but can't put a finger on it.

    • Aibek
      April 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      give it another try!

  12. Dan
    April 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I prefer MPC-HD too. But VLC is a great back-up player. BTW, in your 2nd tip, you forgot to mention that you can also capture audio/video from your webcam. It's rudimentary but works in a pinch.

  13. Yalol
    April 14, 2011 at 4:07 am

    VLC rocks. Been using MPC-HD lately, but it isn't as much lighter as this little player.

  14. Anonymous
    April 14, 2011 at 3:20 am

    I use KMPlayer now. I used VLC but the interface isnt nice and pretty

    • ShapeofLovw
      April 14, 2011 at 6:19 am

      there's bunch "nice and pretty" VLC skins for download

    • Aibek
      April 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      KMPLayer is good but I find it a bit heavy on resources. Also it used to hang for me when opening high def videos.

  15. Kurtchristie
    April 14, 2011 at 1:36 am

    I love vlc, using it mainly for streaming radio stations. I did not know about the tricks, so thanks for them. Will check out a few of them

    • DeadlyDad
      April 16, 2011 at 1:42 am

      Same here. You can use its command line kung fu to schedule a task that records your favourite radio programs automatically.

  16. MW3 FORUM
    April 13, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Such a powerful tool VLC is, "Play Video as ASCII Output" seemed to be of amusement.

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