7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player

vlcthumb   7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media PlayerIf someone gave me the choice of picking just one media player to take to a deserted island, I would most definitely plonk for VideoLan’s [NO LONGER WORKS] VLC Media Player. I really don’t know whether I would get too much of a chance to watch anything while I am marooned there, but when it comes to versatility, no other player comes close. Thank God! VLC Media Player is free. It is Open Source and cross-platform too.

That VLC pretty much plays everything that you throw at it is old news. It is also a media genie when it comes to other things apart from playing movies. We looked at some of them in two previous posts:

In the latter post, we talked about what VLC can do…

  • Rip & Transcode Videos
  • Internet Radio & Podcast Management
  • Video Effects
  • Snapshots
  • Play Video as ASCII Output

But there are still some ‘top secret’ features left to talk about. So, let’s spill the beans.

Use VLC as an Online Video Downloader for YouTube

Using a combination of VLC and your browser, you can download videos from YouTube and a few other video sites. Copy the URL of the video you want to download. For instance, in YouTube it could be like this:

1. Click on Media – Open Network stream. Paste the URL and click the Play button in the player.

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2. VLC Media Player starts streaming the video.  Now, click Tools – Codec Information and at the bottom of the window you will see a Location box. Copy the long URL in the box and paste it on your browser’s address bar. The browser will now start playing the video file. You can download the video file to your desktop by doing a Save As…. Or you can choose to record the video.

vlc features02   7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player

I tried this out with YouTube. Let us know in the comments about other services too.

Don’t Forget…VLC Can Play Audio Too!

We normally associate VLC with video, but VLC is a complete media player and that includes full music-playing features with playlist support. VLC not only displays cover art, but also has a pretty good graphic equalizer tucked away inside it.

You can bring it up with a CTRL+E. Pitch your song just right with the available presets, or finetune it with the 11 frequency bands.

vlc features03   7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player

The latest VLC also gives you Dynamic Range Compression that subdues loud sounds or amplifies quiet sounds by compressing an audio signal’s dynamic range. That’s just the thing if you are living in an apartment with thin walls.

Then there’s Audio Normalization

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Just in case you don’t jump out of your skin, VLC has the normalization feature tucked deep inside Audio preferences (Tools – Preferences – Audio). It’s a feature to keep in mind when you are playing audio and video files; a sudden increase in the volume could jar your ears. In case of video, you have to restart the video for it to take effect.

Record Directly From Webcam

You can record your video chat session easily using VLC.

1. Go to Media – Open Capture Device.

2. On the Capture Device screen, you can select the video device and also the audio device like the system microphone.

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3. You can also configure the options from the Configure settings. Finetune your capture with Brightness, Contrast, Hue, Saturation (and other) controls.

4. Head down and drop down the Play button to open the Convert dialog where you can select the Destination file, click on the Browse button to select video file location, name and format.

Scrobble Tracks to Last.fm

Last.fm added support to VLC and that helps because you can enhance your recommendations by scrobbling from your desktop music collection to Last.fm using the VideoLan media player. Scrobbling tracks to Last.fm with what you listen to on your desktop is a simple three-step process –

1. From Tools – Preferences click the Show Settings radio button to All.

2. Drop down to Interfaces. Expand the branch to Control Interfaces – check Submission of played song to Last.fm.

vlc features06   7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player

3. Expand Control Interfaces and click on Audioscrobbler. Enter your login details on this screen, hit save and restart  VLC.

Mouse Gesture Interactions with VLC

vlc features07   7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player

Productivity mavens like their mouse gestures, and VLC media player obliges with basic mouse gesture support. To activate this feature, go to View – Add Interface – Mouse Gestures. You may need to restart VLC for the changes to take effect. The list of supported gestures and settings options can be on this page of the VideoLAN wiki.

Automatically Quit VLC When Playback Is Over (And Shut down The Computer)

Queue your songs in a playlist (Kenny G’s saxophone perhaps), switch off the lights, and drift off to sleep. Oh wait! Did you forget to switch off the VLC player and shut down the computer? Stay in bed because a little line of code can do it for you.

You can quit VLC media player after playback is finished, by adding


to the playlist. Alternatively, from Media select Quit at the end of playlist.

Shutting down the computer is a bit more elaborate with a batch file.

Create a new file with extension .BAT [use notepad] and paste in the contents from below:

START /WAIT C:\"Program Files"\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe %1 vlc://quit
shutdown -s -t 60

Drag your saved playlist icon on top of the .bat file. The batch file will launch VLC and load the playlist. It will wait for the playlist to finish playing and then the batch file shut down the PC in 60 sec.’s.

I end here with seven useful features of the ever-popular VLC media player. There are lots more of course. If you know about these seven features then they aren’t ‘top secret’ at all, but if you didn’t then try them out. Which feature of the VLC media player deserves to get mentioned? Do you know of a VLC feature that you think not many are aware of? Reveal it in the comments. We are all ears for secrets to be spilled.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.



What I don’t like about VLC is that it won’t let my laptop go to sleep or even dim the monitor after x number of minutes as per my power saving plan in Windows. I also dislike the (too) simple UI in general yet overly complicated options. I’ve tried several of the skins offered by VLC but most plain did not work and others had various quirks about them that weren’t present in the default UI.

WMP (Windows’ default player) serves my purpose quite well :) Very elegant player and does not require any extra codecs downloaded for my needs so no issues there. The only gripe I have with WMP is that I believe it does not support srt subtitles or very picky with them (forgot which, it’s very rare that I need subtitles); for that I have VLC as a backup player which handles subtitles like a champ, and also supports more codecs out of the box, although external codecs can be easily obtained and installed on the system for WMP to use.

Saikat Basu

VLV does interfere with the power management options. I have the habit of manually dimming my monitor with the shortcut key on my laptop when I walk away. It’s always advisable to keep a backup player. I, in fact have 3 – Media Player Classic and KMP. But VLC handles everything that you throw at it.


I used to use KMP, but it isn’t made by the same people anymore and they added a lot of unnecessary junk. I have gone with PotPlayer, which is the new KMP made by Daum. PotPlayer is my main player now and VLC has become my backup.

Jonathan Temple

I am glad that you mentioned KMP. I removed it from my system and wondered what the heck happened to it..
KMP is loaded with junk, ads and wanting you to download all sorts of crap. Thanks for letting me know what happened to it,
VLC is pure as the driven snow and it plays EVERYTHING.
Especially FLAC and Ogg on the audio side and Ogg, MP4 (is proprietary), AVI, Divx, Xvid, CDs and DVDs, VOBs, everything.

My backup player is Media Player Classic. It is sooooo fast and sooooo small. It is not as robust as VLC, but is unreal, with a free GNU

Saikat Basu

Thanks. Did not know much about PotPlayer. Will definitely try it out.


Same as me, I will browse for PotPlayer pros and cons and maybe using it.

Thanks GodSponge


You can activate subtitles in Media player with the help of the software called DirectVobSub. It has a control panel which lets you choose the font and font size and once the settings are saved it will automatically display srt files associated with the video. The software gets initialized automatically every time a video is played and remains hidden in the system tray.


yea, bc I really want my monitor to go dark every 10 minutes when im trying to watch a goddamn movie on my computer…


Sometimes I like to play a movie/video for the audio/music, and actually WANT my screen to go black after awhile, as I am not using it.

Under advanced Video settings, you can uncheck “Disable Screensaver”. That may help things a bit.

Muhammad Ahmad

Using VLC since several years. Working very good.

Sameer N

Great tricks. Thanks for the article.

Mark Thornley

Best media player out there!

Elias Morales

Use it every day, excellent player, thanks for the tips

Tanguy Djokovic

ohh yeah, leaned many new tricks thanks to you… most I won’t use, but now I know :)

Shakirah Faleh Lai

VLC looks simple and not very fancy but it was a versatile player. I enjoyed using it for years, nice tricks.


Just remember that VLC won’t download anything over https. Just remove the “s” and your good to go.

Chun Tat David Chu

I use YouTube Downloader HD to download video from YouTube onto the computer.


I’m not sure if this is in the list because I’ve already found my favorite program, but DownloadHelper for Firefox makes it super easy on many different sites.

Tug Ricks

I love Freemake. It’s simple to use and works like a charm. Thanks for the link!


Switched to VLC 3 yrs ago, I’ve never looked back! Simply the best!


I’ve even used VLC Streamer to stream to IPAD!


Nice tricks Saikat. VLC continues to prove why it’s one of the go-to players for media……PERIOD!

Va Du

Nice tips. Only started using it months ago mainly for streaming so this gives me more options to do other things with.

nahid saleem

For some reason I like GOM player over any other players. It plays almost everything.


It’s a good player, was my favorite for years, but he has problem with blue ray movies 1080p and 3d , what codec do you use with it?for blue rays? thanks

Saikat Basu

VLC can’t handle Blu-ray natively as far as I know. A new version was supposed to be released with Blu-ray support, but I am not sure when. I haven’t tried this but there is a workaround which you can look into:

You will need to update the keys database and AACS dynamic library, both of which can be downloaded from http://vlc-bluray.whoknowsmy.name/.


Wow….what a nice point about VLC, I loved all points….great …thanks so much keep it up!

Reý Aetar

no doubt it supports almost everything but the sound and video quality of other players are better in some cases
i use it to play files that are not supported by wmp on windows
and in linux rhytmbox for common audio files

Saikat Basu

There are pros and cons with every player. That’s why I think it’s better to have 2-3 players in your arsenal. For instance, I play my audio files in Foobar and not in VLC. Sometimes, it’s just born out of habit.

Âdil Farôôq

Using VLC from last 3 years


Never understood why people use this. Ugliest player available, overly complicated settings and menus. Plus WMP is already installed and works.

If you have to write a batch file, create a playlist and operate from the desktop, that’s not a feature. Call me when it’s a menu option.

Declan Lopez

nice tricks

Asif Mumtaz

Wonder why use VLC for video download when there are plenty of other free programs that do it so well, just with a click!

Saikat Basu

Not saying it’s THE BEST tool for the job…just saying that it is a feature.

Gian Singh

VLC has so many features, and i only knew of half of them


I only use VLC for video and audio. It has never failed me.

Charlie Player

a very good media player..

Dan Whitcomb

Didn’t know these existed!

Ibrahim Mezouar

I wish they’d jazz up the UI a bit more! I hate that win32 look :p

Taiwai Cheng

Neat tips! Like it!

Muhannad Agha


Wendy J

I would much rather use VLC, which I’ve used for years, than Adobe with Firefox, but your ‘work around’ is just too cumbersome, when I can get Adobe addon to open in Firefox with one click. What I want is a useful VLC addon for Firefox or Chrome, please!!!!

Elaheh Sadegh

I would suggest VLC to all my friend now.

Brandon SPike

I love vlc!

Paolo Maffezzoli

Great tool and intersting tricks .

Benoit Rainville

As the geek of my many circles, I convert everyone I support to VLC, simply because it just works with anything as long as you set it as default video player only. Once you set some preferences like launch full screen, and sound clipping limits, all you need to do is double click a video file and hit the space bar to go to the bathroom and again when you come back. I even had to install it at work for an Exec who wanted to present an MP4 video for a presentation and he found it was just perfect.


my musically inclined sons use VLC and recommend it to everyone. as for audio, i do like Audacity better, tho.

debashis mallik

“If someone gave me the choice of picking just one media player to take to a deserted island, I would most definitely plonk for VideoLan’s VLC Media Player.”…………..I’d do that too no doubt.

Charles Zwicker

You can also slow down or speed up audio (or video I assume). Very useful for learning songs on instruments.

Saikat Basu

That’s another interesting tip. Thanks for this.

Suman Acharya

great!! really needed it to know…
why use other players while there is vlc for free!!!

Joses Lemmuela

VLC Media Player keeps getting better and better. The twoflower version now even enchants 10 bit encoding support, which has now never failed to play any animes or movies I throw at it. I’m really starting to be a fan of this media player :p
I know a few features here already, but a few still surprised me, like the first one. Good post by the way!
Oh, and it’s very customizeable too :D

Saikat Basu

I read on the site that VLC 1.1. itself had around 485 million downloads. Two Flower is a major release and brings fixes with it.

Rutul Parikh

When I found VLC, I literally dumped other players. I love the 1.1.1 version as it plays videos smoothly on my weak pc.

Saikat Basu

As opposed to a player like KMP which lags on mine too.

Cliff Mccullar

just have to say ive been using VLC for what 8 or 9 years now i believe? still never had the first issue with the program crashing or not playing a file. One thing i didnt notice being mentioned is despite its incredible versatility its still has a VERY small resource footprint compared to any other playback program ive found for movies, which matters a lot for older/slow computers.

Saikat Basu

On an average its around 30% for me. That is low compared to something like KMP or WMP.

John Pavelko

So many people rave about this media player, but I have not found it to be that great


me too …:)


its not that good…..

Andy Sullivan

VLC plays all my media across all my platforms and devices. I have it installed on my tablet, and my phone, both android, also on my laptop and i wish i could get it on XBox.

Well done for a free app and to its devs.

Safwan Khatri

great player


Fantastic universal player.


The player does everthing he should and much more. Test it!!


it was really nice knowing all this. hope to find somthing more on here..


I have to say that most of these features I would never use. I have other programs that make it faster to get youtube videos and I don’t care for most of the features. I only really use VLC for playing stuff my other player can’t for some reason.

Jonathan Temple

VLC is amazing. It plays everything. Your not limited to the inferior proprietary audio and video formats. It has a GNU license, which means, it belongs to us.
Want to make it better, use it, volunteer to make changes to it and donate to the programmers/volunteers. Look at the silly little excuses where people back off, uncomfortable with not using proprietary, limiting stuff, from Microsoft and Apple.
It is very simple to use, however, if one wants to get deep into enhancing the audio or video they can. Heck, kit even encodes. Make sure you get the newest version. It is about functionality, flexibility and quality. It is not about looking pretty and limiting users, like proprietary nonsense..
I store my audio in losless FLAC format and encode that into the best compressed “lossy” format for audio Ogg Vorbis, to listen to on my Cowon portable media player.
Both are GNU licensed and are free for use and distribution. You can use them in a commercial format.
I do agree that it is good to have more than one player for various reason. There are several good ones, but none of them are made by Microsoft or Apple.

Saikat Basu

Well said. If you are willing to dive down into the hood, there’s nothing like the VLC right now. The flexibility is very good.

Peter James Escobar

Well Secrets had been revealed!

Glen Quilat

pretty versatile. It’s not as simple as I thought it is. Thanks fro the tips!

Colin Ryan

Good tips, thanks!


Haha awesome! But for Music and such, I use WinAmp and I suggest you use too, it’s an amazing tool. I will try these things on VLC see if it’s more comfortable than WinAmp. Amazing find, thank you!


Thanks for the tips. Have used this player for years along with others, of course.


VLC is my first choice of media player both in windows and linux..,It’s just perfect to play any kind of video in any format..,but I rarely use it to play musics in mp3 format..,

Jamie VanRaalte

I’m fast becoming a VLC fan – a big one! Thanks for these tips.

Gaurav Rajasekar

I tried using the video capture feature on VLC to record my desktop as an mp4 file. However it just kept crashing :( Hopefully gets fixed in a subsequent release.

Using it as a Youtube downloader is definitely not something I had heard of before, thanks!


sometimes I was wondering why some people would choose paid apps like Splash Pro when free one like VLC or Potplayer can do better

Pedro Oliva

i use vlc to convert directly youtube videos to any format (mp3, mp4, etc)… Media>convert>Network>set preferences—-> ready!

Jonny Roder

My lovely player.


cool….VLC is my best video player both in windows or Linux

Joe p

As always something useful

Daniel Tanner

Always good to have more uses for a single program. I like having one vs. many as far as programs are concerned.

Rob Long



“If someone gave me the choice of picking just one media player to take to a deserted island, I would most definitely plonk for VideoLan’s VLC Media Player.”

Hahaha, you crack me up man.

Anyway, to me VLC is a must have on any OS (maybe even mobile!!!). I think it’s best quality is that it has it’s own codecs and you don’t have to worry about installing them separately. This is especially useful for newbie linux users that have a hard time doing that themselves.

The remote control feature is (I think) third party and also, doesn’t seam to work very well on Linux.

Great article! Keep it up.


dvdsoft is very useful

Lewis Golden

LJG July 30 2012

I have used VLC player for several years and had not been aware of these features–thank you for all of the help–LJG


I love Media Player Classic and VLC at the same level.


There’s also mplayer, which is able to read almost anything, through many protocols, etc. Mplayer and VLC are basically the two great player.


One of my favorite features is the ability to offset the audio from the video. It comes in handy when everything’s out of sync and you hear stuff 3 seconds before you see it.

S Jones

GOM Player does this, too, and with much easier access. Press “” to speed it up in 0.5 sec increments.

Antonio Silva

Another great thing about VLC:

You can drag and drop an .iso of a DVD and it will play it beautifully.

Igor Rizvi?

awesome.thx alot!!

Ron Morrow

I already loved VLC but these tips make it just that much better. Thanks!

vivek u

Its really very good player

Sai Krishna

excellent & useful read.

Totoy Badiola

Many thanks for featuring VLC. I never knew such a free software would be so powerful.

I now, intend to browse often through the list of your howto and tips. What do you know, I might see some other topics that will prove helpful to me as a home user.

Saikat Basu

Thanks for the feedback. Our site is specifically for tech tips you can “make use of” :)


Youtube downloading function not working for me.

Using version 2.0.3

Error message:

“Your input can’t be opened:
VLC is unable to open the MRL ‘http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfeys7Jfnx8′. Check the log for details.”

Basically tried to follow these instructions, VLC won’t stream it like it says in step 1

abdo Elborady

i dont think that was usefull


I’ve been using vlc for a very long time, but i didn’t know what it was capable of.

Igor Rizvi?

Reall nice


Beware of the scrobble feature – because it will scrobble porn titles as well!!!

I only noticed by chance on last.fm

Thaveesha Suchinthaka


Bila Box

i think vlc just an ordinary player, but this change my mind

Ashwin Divakaran

KMP Rules!

Krisna Regular

thanks for all the TIPS regarding this VLC player


What Id like to know is how the heck to get VLC to play the vids you want OVER YOUR OPEN WINDOWS (in win7)! It must be easy, but I cannot figure it out.

Subrat Regmi

The main reason i started using VLC 3 years back was its ability to double the volume, since then VLC has been my best media player. I use VLC in all of my OS and all my gadgets. Thanks for these really cool informative tips.

Saikat Basu

Hey, that was the same reason for me as well. But since then, I have discovered more uses I could put it too.

Ahmed Saqr

Awesome Features :)
recording from web cam is the best for me

Kaashif Haja

VLC is good!
I have some trouble playing the RMVB file, so i use kmplayer for it.

Olivier FitzGerald

This article confirms how versatile VLC is. However, with slow processors, I experienced sync problems between sound and image while WMP worked allright. Very confusing.

Edward Bellair

One of them progs where time is a plus.

Jacob Twitchel

I have used VLC Media player for over 5 years now and it is the best media player I have ever used. I have never found any media players that come close to doing all the cool stuff that VLC can do. But I have tried to use the Network Stream option to watch a YouTube video on Debian Squeeze but I think there is a bug in that version of VLC because every time I try to open a video it spits out errors saying it can’t detect the video format. But I am still learning cool things that I can do in VLC every few weeks or so. Even though I sometimes get errors, I am always going to use VLC.

Edmar Diego

no more crappy youtube downloder. thanks for the info

Seiboi Misao

As far as I am concern, VLC player is the best for watching movies of all formats, listening music etc.


i want to watch movie with my girlfriend she is in other town from 2year’s.can vlc media player help us to watch same movie on same time ????

i read about it in one comment but i didn’t found anything yet please tell me how can i make it


hello i like to know how to stream a movie or video directly in vlc player for mac to watch it without having to download the video file just stream direct into vlc player so i dont have to use a browser to watch inwhich sometimes the flow is off id like to use vlc player to watch rather stream direct from my understanding it uses hardware components to make the video play smooth no buffering id like to know can i do this with vlc player for mac but i like to do it without having to download a file just stream from where the original file is based on website the video is on or linked to and then directly to vlc player for mac as the output can you tell me how to do that or if you know of a site that has that exact answer im looking for provide a link ive been looking and haven’t found a answer as of yet thanks in advance for any help you can give


Just call each other and press play at the same time…


Does VLC automaticly try to make an internet connection when it is opened? I tweeked my firewall setting to max and now it’s asking me for permission to let VLC access the web. Does anyone here know? Thanks


This doesn’t work. VLC will not download anything from YouTube by these instructions.

Saikat Basu

Try it again. You are doing something wrong. Any errors?


Very good review – thnx.
is there a media player that you know of where it can resume playing from the point I stopped the player and shut down the computer?

Bill C

Streaming Youtube with VLC for video downloading per your instructions worked fine for me in August, 2012. Now it will not stream. What is wrong? Has Google changed something on Youtube that prevents it?


I am having the same issue.

Saikat Basu

I think it’s a YouTube issue.

kumar raja

It is fantastic very useful for those who r using VLC player

howard wolowitz

wow i had no idea vlc had so many features

howard wolowitz

i am going to try them out right know

Abhisek Tak

Please me give the exact path way to shut down the computer as soon as the play list ends.

I mean step wise because i am not that friendly with computer.

Saeef Alam

The shut down feature is great. Good life hack; would have been useful years ago. Thanks.

Saikat Basu

Why not now :)

Joseph Finkelberg

thanks for this post

Vijay Agarwal

This method does not specify how can one select the quality of video downloaded like 480p, 720p or 1080p………. One may not like to desire full fledged 1080p video.


I think vlc has a webcam feature where u can broadcast the video ur playing locally as a virtual webcam and ppl on the other side see it as my webcam. is it possible???


I use VLC for all my media files, whether films which are on commercial release or footage I took myself using phones or digicams.

Problem now is that I can not delete any of file which is linked to VLC, even if I then change it back again. No matter how I try nothing works.

I tried hitting Delete on the keyboard, and even Shift + Delete. I get a message telling me that the file is in use or is protected. Neither of these things is happening. I try dragging and dropping the file into Trash and the same error message comes up. I even tried cutting and pasting to the trash can, and the same error message comes up. It’s pissed me off no end. My drive is filling and apart from the radical solution of backing up the entire drive elsewhere, except these files, and then formating the entire PC, there is nothing I can think of now to do to get rid of them. Perhaps I can even transfer them onto a memory stick and then throw the thing away, but that’s wasteful and expensive and also stupid.

Really I’d rather find a solution, which I am sure there is one, only I can’t find it.

I am running Windows XP SP3. All updates and so on are valid and current.

Please help??

Brandon Jacobsen

Hi, I’m brand new to VLC and I have a video that’s 1.1 seconds faster than the audio. I figured out how to fix this when actually watching the video, but how do I actually save the corrected version so I can upload it to Facebook? Thanks!

Leslie D Hudson

I did realize VCL had all of this inside of the player, I upgraded my player and BAM everything was there thanks for thesae awesome tips

umesh salesia

i love using this player.

Ihtisham ul haq haq

nice article and tips about vlc player.