There’s a good chance you already use the VLC media player. But VLC isn’t just a media player — it’s a complete Swiss Army Knife for digital videos and music, filled with useful and fun features you haven’t found yet.
If you’re just using VLC to play back local media files, you’re only using a tiny fraction of VLC’s capabilities. There’s so much more you can do with VLC, whether you’re using it on Windows, Mac, or Linux.
Convert Media Files:
VLC can convert media files between the formats it supports. You could use this tomake a video smaller for a mobile device, convert media from an unsupported format to one your device supports, or even to extract the audio from a video and save it as a separate file.
To do this, click the Media menu and select Convert / Save. Load the file you want to convert, click the Convert / Save button, and select the type of file you want to convert it to. Use the Edit selected profile button to tweak the video encoding settings.
Stream Media Over the Network or Internet:
VLC can stream media across the Internet or on your local network. To get started, click the Media menu, select Stream, provide the media file you want to stream and click the Stream button. You’ll be able to set up VLC as a media server so other computers on the network — or even around the world — can connect to your stream and view it.
Of course, if you want to stream over the Internet, you’ll probably need to forward ports on your router.
Record Your Desktop
VLC can load your desktop as an input device. This means that you can use the Convert / Save feature to save a video of your desktop, effectively turning VLC into screen capture software. You could also use this in concert with the Stream feature to broadcast a live stream of your desktop across the network or Internet with no additional software required.
Remotely Control Playback From a Browser:
VLC has an integrated HTTP server you can enable. Set this up and you can then remotely access your VLC client via a web browser. This would allow you to remotely control a media center PC from a web browser, controlling playback and queuing up audio or video files. You could even use this along with a smartphone to turn your phone into a remote control for VLC. There are mobile apps that function as remote controls for VLC, and these apps use VLC’s web interface to function.
Watch YouTube Videos:
Want to play a YouTube video outside of your web browser? Just browse to a video on YouTube and copy its full URL — this should look something like the following:
Click the Media menu in VLC, select Open Network Stream, and paste the YouTube video’s URL into the box. VLC will load the video from YouTube and play it in a VLC window on your desktop.
When the video is playing, you could click the Tools menu and select Codec Information. You’ll see the full web address of the MP4 video displayed in the Location box, so you can copy-and-paste into a download manager — or just your web browser — to download the YouTube video to your computer.
Apply Video and Audio Effects
VLC can apply audio effects, video effects, and tweak the way a video’s audio and video line up. Click the Tools menu and select Effects and Filters. From here, you can apply an audio equalizer or video effects, such as cropping, rotating, overlaying, or colorizing a video. From the Synchronization tab, you can tweak the way a video’s audio and video stream line up. This allows you to fix broken videos where the audio and video are out of sync.
As with other VLC features, these effects can be combined with other features. For example, you could permanently apply effects to a video by enabling these effects before using the Convert / Save feature.
Use a Video Wallpaper
VLC also allows you to set a video as your desktop wallpaper, replacing your desktop background with a video. It’s not very practical and extremely distracting, but — it’s something you can’t do with many media players.
To do this, open VLC’s preferences window, click the Video icon, and select DirectX (DirectDraw) video output in the Output box. Restart VLC, load a video, and you’ll be able to click the Video menu and select Set as Wallpaper to turn the video into your desktop wallpaper.
When you’re done, just change VLC’s Output setting back to Automatic and restart it.