Its popularity is a testament to the fact that the open-source concept for softwares is the way to go; just look at Android, the number one OS in the world which is also an open sources program.
VLC is also loved because of its adaptability and flexibility. It is the only player that can play all kinds of media files. However, the majority of users never get beyond playing just media files (most especially video files) with the software on their computer.
This is missing out on numerous features integrated into the software. A knowledge of these features would instantly turn your VLC media player into an all purpose software.
Here are some of the standout features.
First though, you need to make sure your media player is the latest version. To check that, click on ‘Help’ at the top menu bar. Then click ‘Check for updates’ in the drop down menu. It would prompt you to upgrade to the latest if you don’t have the latest version.
Just follow the instructions and you are done.
1. Watch 3D movies
Do you have a pair of 3D glasses gathering dust in a drawer somewhere because you don’t have a 3D TV around? Or perhaps, you can’t afford a TV yet but really want to get the 3D experience.
With your 3D glasses, you can easily watch 3D movies with VLC media player.
Go to Tools (top menu) and click on it. From the drop down menu click on ‘Effects and filters‘, followed by ‘Video effects’ tab.
In this window click on the ‘Advanced Tab‘. Then move down and check the box in front of ‘Anaglyph 3D.’ Close the box.
You are now ready to watch your 3D movies. Make sure the videos are SBS 3D movies. Put on your glasses and enjoy.
2. Play an interactive video puzzle Game
If you love picture puzzles, this is just the game for you.
Open VLC media player. Head to the menu at the bottom of the player and click on ‘Extended settings.’ then click the ‘Video effects’ tab and below that click ‘Geometry‘.
In the window that appears locate and tick the box in front of ‘Puzzle game‘. You can increase the level of difficulty by increasing the rows and column numbers. Close the window.
To play your puzzle game, close the VLC and restart it again. Then open/play any video. Confused by what you see. That’s the interactive puzzle game. Your task is to put the pieces where they should be to make a whole picture.
You can pause the video of while arranging the pieces. You would be able the watch the video normally once you have solved the puzzle.
You can click ‘Shuffle‘ sign at the top left corner to get a different puzzle from the same video.
Enjoy your game.
If you’ve watched the 2010 science fiction movie ‘Inception‘, you would understand why this feature is known as inception.
There are two ways you can do this:
i. Open VLC. Then tap ‘Ctrl +N‘ on your keyboard. Then in the window showing on VLC, type ‘screen://‘ without the inverted commas. Then click ‘Play‘ to see what happens. That is inception. Awesome right.
ii. Head to the menu at the top and click ‘Media‘. In the drop down menu, click either ‘Open Network Streaming‘ or ‘Open capture device’. Either one would take you the next window known as ‘Open Media.’
In the Open Media window, click the ‘Network‘ tab and type ‘screen://‘; under ‘Please enter a network url’. Then click ‘Play’ at the bottom of the window.
You can stop ‘inception‘ anytime by hitting the pause button.
You can screenshot your inception and use as your desktop wallpaper if you wish or you can share it with your friends.
Which takes us nicely to the next tip…
4. How to record and take a screenshot of playing video
With this feature, you can record a snippet of a playing video. Perhaps you want to share some interesting portion of the video with friends on social media.
There are two ways to do this:
i. At the top menu, click ‘View‘ and in the drop down menu, tick ‘Advanced controls‘. Extra buttons would appear at the bottom of the VLC, just above the controls at the bottom.
There are 4 buttons. Just hover the pointer on them to see their functions. They are ‘Record’, ‘Take a Snapshot’, ‘Looping‘ between two points, and ‘Frame by Frame‘ capturing.
To start recording, click on the ‘Record‘ button. To stop it, click on the button again. Recordings would be saved in the Video folder of your system. Audios, on the other hand, would be saved on in the Music folder.
To take a snapshot, just click, ‘Take a Snapshot‘ button. A preview of your shot would appear at the top of the software with the destination folder for a second.
ii. In the second method, just right click the playing file and click on ‘Record‘ to start recording. To stop recording right click the video and click the ‘Record’ button again.
To take a snapshot, right click > video > Take a Snapshot.
5. Change video format to TV-compatible format
This is one of the best features in VLC if you love watching videos on bigger screens. Many compressed files cannot play on your TV. So the only option is to convert them to TV-compatible formats.
Go to Media (the top menu) > ‘Convert/save…’. In the window that opens (Ctrl +R would also get you to this window) click on the ‘Add’ button and navigate to the video file you want to convert. Select the video then click the ‘Convert/Save’.
In the new window, click the down arrow in ‘Profile‘ to select the new format. There are several options listed there including at least 2 TV-compatible formats. Choose the one you want.
In ‘Destination folder‘, click ‘Browse’ to help you pick where you want the converted video to be saved. Type a file name and click ‘Save‘. Then click ‘Start’ in the ‘Convert‘ window.
Obviously, you can use this feature to also convert audio files to whatever format you want. Just follow the same procedure. Though this time, you have to choose an audio file instead of a video file to be converted.
6. VLC as a webcam
You can use VLC as a webcam to capture yourself. With the right settings, you would be able to record your chat session if you wish to view it later.
First, at the top of the VLC click ‘Media‘ > ‘Open Capture Device’ (or hit Ctrl + C).
In the ‘Capture Device‘ window, select the video and audio device you want to use or you can go with the default settings.
You can click the ‘Advanced options…’ tab to configure the audio, picture and video quality to your taste. Press ‘OK‘. Then click ‘Play‘ to start the recording.
You should be able to see yourself in the VLC media player main window.
7. Listen to international online radio stations
This is also a very easy and neat trick.
At the top of VLC media player, click ‘View‘ and in the drop down menu, click ‘Playlist’
On the left pane of the new window under ‘Internet‘, click on ‘Icecast Radio Diredtory‘. Give it time to load. On the main window, several radio stations would be displayed. You would be spoiled for choice.
Right click any one and click ‘Play’. Wait for it to buffer. Then enjoy.
You can stop it by clicking the ‘Pause’ button.
There are several other hidden features in VLC media player. These ones should spur you to discover the rest. However, you now know VLC media player is a multi-purpose software that can be used for many other cool stuff apart from watching videos.