Getting the most out of VLC Media Player

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VLC media player has been my go-to application for all of my multimedia playback needs for years. The sheer functionality combined with the fact that VLC is compatible with everything and can play pretty much anything you throw at it are all very good reasons why VLC is so immensely popular. However, there are still many people that do not know exactly how much customizable the player truly is. So here are some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your VLC experience.

1. The Preferences menu

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Although almost every application has a settings menu, VLC has one of the most comprehensive ones that will truly let you personalize your player. To access the Preferences window, go to the Tools tab and choose Preferences at the bottom of the list or simply press Ctrl + P. The menu has two modes, Simple and Advanced. While most people will do just fine with the Simple tab, more experienced users will want to enable the Advanced mode by choosing the “All” option in the bottom left corner of the window.  The two modes sometimes have completely different options so you might want to check both of them out anyway.

There are so many options and settings you can set here that will completely change the way VLC behaves. For example, you may have noticed that when you are viewing a video and you try to open another file, VLC keeps the same instance and throws your previous video away. However, you can enable more than one instance by unchecking the respective box in the Interface tab. You can also change file associations, the way your subtitles are displayed and more.

2. Hotkeys

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Although this one should be obvious, I have seen a lot of people struggle with hotkeys. To view all of the hotkeys, simply go to the Preferences menu and then click on the Hotkeys tab. The hotkeys are divided into player-specific and global ones. When you set a hotkey to global mode, you can interact with the player even when its window is not currently active on your screen.

Some of the hotkeys you absolutely have to know are:
F: Enables full-screen mode. You can also do that by double clicking on the player’s playback window.
Space: Pauses the current audio/video file
+/- : Faster or slower playback
N/P/S: Next – Previous item on the playlist/ Stop the playlist.
Ctrl + Up/Down arrow: Control the volume
M: Mute

3. Synchronization

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If for whatever reason your video and audio or your subtitles are not synchronized, you can easily do it with VLC. There are two ways to do this. The first is to right click on the playback window, go to Tools and then choose the Track Synchronization option. This will open the Adjustments and Effects window where you will be able to synchronize both your audio and video and your subtitles.

In addition to that, you can use the program’s hotkeys:

G and H will synchronize your subtitles.
J and K will synchronize your audio.

When you use the hotkeys you will see a line of text in the top right corner of VLC that will inform you of your current synchronization status.

4. Add-ons

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Perhaps the most criminally underused aspect of the player. By going to this page http://addons.videolan.org/ you will be able to download and configure a variety of extensions and plugins for VLC. Although there are currently not a lot of extensions, there are still some that will make your experience a much better one. For example, did you know that you can download subtitles directly from VLC? Well, you can, simply by downloading the VLSub extension. You can even block radio ads with the “Online Radio AD Blocker” extension.

The downside to the extensions is that you have to manually install them apart from rare exceptions like VLSub that offers a Windows 7 installer. However, the installation is simple and every add-on offers a thorough walkthrough. To see your currently installed extensions, right click on VLC and go to the View menu.

5. Skins

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If you are bored with the player’s interface after using it for a long time, you can easily change it by downloading and installing a new skin by going here http://addons.videolan.org/index.php?xsortmode=new&page=0&xcontentmode=133. Changing the skins is very easy. Simply go to the Interface tab of the Preferences window. Then, click on the custom skin option and browse your computer for the skin you have downloaded. Restart VLC for the skin to take effect and you are done.