What is VLC Media Player?

Category: Music , Video

Do you play music or videos on your PC, Mac or mobile device? Frustrated with the limitations of iTunes or Windows Media Player? Here comes VLC Media Player to the rescue! Read on...

VLC Media Player: A Better Way

VLC Media Player is one of the most popular programs on Earth; it passed the one-billion-downloads mark in 2012. Today, it’s available on more operating systems than any other media player, and it just keeps getting better.

Version 2.2.0 of VLC Media Player was released on February 27 in the program’s first all-platforms simultaneous release. That includes desktop versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and several flavors of Linux; mobile versions for Apple/iOS, Android, and Windows Phone; and even versions for Windows RT and Android TV.

The latest version includes highly desired new features like the ability to detect vertically oriented video and rotate it automatically, and the ability to re-start a video at the point where you left off or closed it accidentally. Additionally, over 1,000 bugs have been fixed in this release and support for a “very large number” of unusual codecs has been added, further reducing the chance that you will ever encounter a multimedia file that VLC can’t play.
VLC Media Player

The iOS version’s user interface has been made more like iTunes and the Android version now conforms to Google’s new Material Design standards. "Moving VLC to the mobile world was difficult, but the difficult is done," VideoLAN President Jean-Baptiste Kempf said in a statement. "VLC runs everywhere, plays everything.”

That is the whole point of VLC Media Player, of course. The open-source project got its start in 2001, a time when numerous software developers were trying to establish dominance in multimedia by imposing their proprietary file formats on everyone. VLC set out to support Windows Media Video (WMV), Apple QuickTime (MOV), RealPlay’s RealAudio and RealVideo, and every other format. Today, it’s the Swiss Army Knife of media players. Just install VLC on every device you own and don’t worry about converting one file format to another.

It Slices, It Dices, It Even Streams!

Why does the VLC project feature an orange traffic cone in its logo? Some believe that it means VLC is always "under construction." But the real answer is much more interesting. VLC was started in 1996 as an academic project by students at the École Centrale Paris. At the time, there was a tradition amongst the members of the École Centrale's Networking Students' Association to steal borrow collect traffic cones. So the cone was adopted by the group as the VLC logo.

VLC is also a streaming media server, so you can use it to play YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming media without a browser that supports streaming. In fact, you can even use VLC to save streamed files to your hard drive. Or if you like, use the red Record button to save a short clip from a video as it plays.

VLC even decrypts the weak CSS encryption used on DVDs, allowing them to be played outside of their regions or ripped to backup copies. This is a controversial feature that violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but it furthers VLC’s mission of being able to “play everything.”

On OS X, VLC’s interface is updated for compatibility with Yosemite. Also, VLC has returned to the Apple App Store for the first time since it was mysteriously yanked last September.

Desktop versions also got a built-in extension downloader allowing easier expansion of the core VLC app with third-party add-ons. A new hardware acceleration mechanism appears on some platforms that support it.

Version 3.0 of VLC is already in the works, according to Kempf. Due later this year, it will include hardware acceleration support for more platforms, better support for the MP4 format, and “partial” integration with Google Chromecast.

Do you use VLC Media Player? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "What is VLC Media Player?"

(See all 51 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

23 Mar 2015

Factoid alert: Originally, the VLC was called 'Video LAN Client'.
Unfortunately, our trusted VLC has been known to have some issues with MP4 movies. It also has stuttering problems with some MKV files, along with some lag/lip-sync issues when streaming. But all of these problems have been resolved over the past few years and can be easily rectified by getting help at https://wiki.videolan.org/VSG:Main/

For my movie playing/streaming needs, I prefer BSPlayer that I am more comfortable with and appears to have a slight edge in my entertainment system with video quality!
For my music playing/streaming needs, I used to fully rely on WinAMP until they got bought out by AOL and now I have replaced it with the Russian FREEware AIMP3 music player.

It should also be noted that the FREEware XBMC (now called Kodi) can also be a good solution for those who prefer NOT to rely on either Apple iTunes or Windows WiMP (or Windows MediaCenter).

My biggest issue with most multimedia (and streaming) players on the market is the fact that most of of these offerings (free/pay) provide "indexing" as the default configuration for all audio/video files in owners library. Indexing [I presume] is ideal for creating playlists and fetching metadata from the internet (etc.) but I prefer the good ol' fashion ways to enjoy my music and movie files, without the overhead of indexed a/v content. Feature-rich Kodi, for example, is 100% useless unless it is allowed to index all the titles in one's library!

ZOOM Player is pretty decent alternative for HTPC needs when movie files are stored in the cloud or on NAS (such as the WesternDigital MyCloud Network Attached Storage solution). Kudos also go out to Mezzmo [IMHO] for attempting to marry a PC based a/v storage with entertainment systems.

Posted by:

24 Mar 2015

Be very careful to download the file only from the official site (http://www.videolan.org/). There are other versions that come loaded with crapware and worse. Took a couple hours to clean teh machine. Plus it was an older version....

Posted by:

24 Mar 2015

I STOPPED USING IT. I used to use it, but I stopped when I could not get it to stop setting the default for all media files to it. I had several files it would not play, and set the default for those to Pot player, which worked. but every time I used vlc for any file, it reset the defaults. This was no good, so I dropped it. If they changed that behavior, I might try it again.

Posted by:

24 Mar 2015

VLC is the best! I can't stand Windows Media Player, so I disabled the WMP and downloaded VLC. I wouldn't consider any other player.

Posted by:

The 146%
24 Mar 2015

I've been using VLC Media Player on several devices for years now, even on Android before it was officially released. I would also like to add that VLC Media Player for Windows has a built-in file converter as well. I was able to use it today to convert an M4A file to MP3 with no trouble at all. Kudos to VideoLAN.

Posted by:

Andrew Allison
25 Mar 2015

I've used several media players that didn't play anything. Downloaded other codecs that didn't agree with my Windows over the years. My wife's computer wouldn't play a DVD for her class study for teaching certification. I tried other programs on her computer too that didn't play it either. She found VLC Media Player and we haven't looked back since. I've uninstalled other video players since they were just taking up HDD space. Everyone enjoy using it.

Posted by:

Charles Nichols
25 Mar 2015

I've been using VLC for several years, and the only thing it hasn't wanted to play is the DVD about backups by Bob, which I bought weeks ago, and only tried to play today. I have no idea why ...?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Hi Charles, that disk is a CD (not DVD) and it contains no audio or video content. Just ebooks in PDF format. So there's nothing for VLC to "play" there.

Posted by:

25 Mar 2015

Unfortunately it came with Freshy and other malware.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Really? Did you download it from the videolan.ORG website? Other commenters here have cautioned about lookalikes that offer adulterated versions.

Posted by:

30 Mar 2015




Posted by:

31 Mar 2015

I have installed VLC MEDIA PLAYER, VERSION 2.2.0 on my Win 7 and Win XP computers with unacceptable results. VLC crashes regularly on both machines and is completely unusable for me.

My computers are virus and malware free and run perfectly with all other applications - so I have to go back to using Windows Media Player - which I am not too crazy about using.

Has anyone else run into this problem with v.2.2.0, since it was only released about one month ago?

Posted by:

31 Mar 2015

I've tried many times to use the advanced features of vlc media player, but it never seems to work. Also, it won't play videos purchased from itunes, so the whole "play any file" is a bit of a furphy...

Posted by:

01 Apr 2015

I have tried to down load VLC and the "crapware" suggest a serious problem. Have tried it in Chrome, Firefox and IE. I have WIN 7 64 bit and it doesn't seem to like this program. Sorry Bob, this one isn't worth it and I wouldn't recommend it.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2015

I'm using VLC for many years. I run it on XP, Vista, Win 7 & 8. There are occassionally some small problems, but in overall I'll strongly agree that it is one of the best software to play video files. My only concern is that trying to play BD disks, the video is quite choppy. I hope they will fix it soon.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2015

I like MPC (Media Player Classic). I think an article with a comparison chart of VLC Player, GOM Player and MPC would be a great help (especially to those of us who don't know what a codec is).

Posted by:

06 Apr 2015

It's a great player, I just wish they could get random play right. WMP can why can't they?

Posted by:

Mike Taylor
06 Apr 2015

The best media player is JRiver Media Center software. http://www.jriver.com/

Posted by:

Alan M
06 Apr 2015

For those of you getting error messages from you AV programs make sure you are getting it from the source and not from a crapware vendor.

It's videolan.org not .com

Posted by:

06 Apr 2015

I've been using VLC for ages and the only issue i've ever had is with windows 8.1 and slow startups. but that seems to affect just about every program.

Posted by:

11 Apr 2015

I've been using VLC for years because it plays so many file types. THe Android version still needs some work.

Posted by:

13 May 2015

downloaded VLC 2.2.1 but windows won't let me run it. What do I have to do

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