The Best VLC Settings

By Theodora Pennypacker

VLC is a media player that is developed and released by the VideoLAN open-source project. The application is distributed in version for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. As a media player, VLC is optimized to open and play digital media files like audio and video tracks, but the program is also equipped with recording and conversion capabilities. Depending on how you are using VLC, it may be necessary to change the application’s default settings to get the best results.


You can adjust VLC’s settings by going to “Tools” on the program menu and selecting “Preferences.” A program window will launch. On the left menu, there will be a column of icons listed as “Interface,” “Audio,” “Video,” “Subtitles & OSD,” “Input & Codecs” and “Hot Keys.” To change the properties for one of these settings, select the corresponding icon, make any necessary changes in the available fields and click “Save.”


If you want to customize the appearance of VLC, select the “Interface” icon. In this section you can choose a preferred display language, apply a skin and set file associations. Select the “Audio” icon to set a default level for volume or optimize audio playback with headphone use. Select the “Video” icon to restrict the aspect ratio on footage or apply a de-interlacing filter. In this section, you can also set a default file directory and naming convention for video snapshots that are taken with the program. To control the appearance of subtitles, select the “Subtitles & OSD.” With this option, you can choose the position and font display of all subtitles that are encoded into a video track. To manage how VLC interacts with specific codecs and files formats, select the “Input & Codecs” icon. Select the “Hot Keys” icon to customize any keyboard shortcuts for VLC commands.


VLC is a scaleable program that can easily be personalized for your use. While there are no ideal settings that are best-suited for everything that VLC does, there are some general tweaks that can streamline the program’s operations. Firstly, it is helpful to set file associations in VLC in the “Interface” section. Since the application supports playback for an extensive variety of digital media formats, it can simplify things to specify which file types open by default in the program. For instance, although VLC is compatible with WMV and MOV, these formats are native to other media players (Windows Media Player and Quicktime respectively). As a result, it is sensible to have these formats launch in their native programs rather than an external application like VLC. Additionally, VLC can export frames in a loaded digital video track as an image file. This process is referred to as "taking a snapshot" and it is done by clicking the camera button on the control bar at a desired point in the clip timeline. To specify where and how these snapshots are stored after they are taken, click the “Video” icon and go to the “Video snapshots” section. In these fields, you can set a default file directory for these images and choose their output format (either PNG or JPG).

Restore Default Settings

Unless you are using VLC to open highly specialized digital media files that are not conventionally formatted, VLC’s default settings should be acceptable. In fact, the program’s default settings should be agreeable to casual users of the program. If you have made changes to VLC’s out of the box settings and you would like to reverse them, simply click the “Reset Preferences” button on the “Preferences” window. The “Interface,” “Audio,” “Video,” “Subtitles & OSD,” “Input & Codecs” and “Hot Keys” sections will all roll back to their original configurations.