VLC for Android is one of the branches of the popular cross-platform media player that is available for free. The latest one branded with the version number 3.*.* was introduced in Android along with other popular platforms like Windows, Mac, and iOS. This introductory guide is here to answer the questions that you might have on installing VLC, running it and performing basic as well as some advanced functions in the Android app.
About VLC for Android
VLC For Android publicly started with a beta project and now, they have launched a full-fledged app that is supported wholly by the VideoLAN team. They claim it to be the best open source video and music player that is fast and user-friendly. It already has over 100 million downloads in the Play Store. This port for Android can play any video and audio stored on your phone, tablet or any other device powered by Android. Apart from local storage, it can also access network streams, network shares, and DVD ISOs.
The video player is packed with features that allow it to play every known format. You can easily play popular formats like MKV, MP4, MOV, AVI, and Ogg. Even the lesser known formats are handled smoothly by the player. The audio player has everything it needs to be branded a great music player—equalizer, filters and a complete database to manage your MP3 files. Other dashing features that need to be mentioned are Chromecast support, playlists, the audio control widget, auto-rotation, support for audio headsets and cover art, adjustment of aspect-ratio and gestures for brightness, seeking and volume adjustments.
To top it all up, it’s not only a free app but it’s also free of any advertisement. It doesn’t even display a tiny ad. Other popular universal media players that we know of show ads but this one is a megastar. Their team of passionate volunteers is there to keep it ad-free and they publish the source code out to the public. What more can we ask for?
Downloading and Installing VLC in Android
If you’re on Android, you get VLC from the Play Store. Just search the play store or click here to go there directly. Once you hit the install button, your smart device will download the necessary app files and install the app automatically. After that, you can easily access the player from the app drawer (and even the home screen). Tap on the cone icon and you are good to go.
Using VLC in Android
When you launch the app, it will scan for all the media files on your phone/tablet and display it on the main screen. The app has evolved over time and the latest version is different than how it started out.
The main screen right now looks like a file manager. The interface displays folders like Download and Internal memory. These are sorted into categories like Favorites, Stores and Local Network. Tap on these folders like Internal Memory to access sub-folders. We can use it just like a file browser to access media files.
On the top-right, you will just see Options [represented by ⋮]. The options will change according to the page that you are on. As an example, the top options for the video player and audio player is different. On the bottom of the app, you will see Video, Audio, Browse, Playlists and More […].
Playing media files is easy. Just tap on the files displayed in the player (under video or audio found at the bottom). You can also directly open a media file from any other file manager. You will have the option of opening it with VLC for Android. You can set it so that those media files are always opened with VLC. There won’t be any issue with the file format and you will be able to play anything under the sky.
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The Video Player Interface
Video player is the main screen of the app. It can also be switched to by tapping on Video from the bottom navigation menu. The options [⋮] on top will allow you to Resume playback, Sort by [Name, Length, Recently added, and Media number], Group videos [Group by name, Group by folder, Do not group videos].
Tap, browse and open up a video and you will access the interface. There will be several buttons on the screen and gestures will also be displayed for a short while. You can use them for easy watching and navigation.
Besides the gestures, the major controls is the seek bar.
Along with the seek bar, several buttons are positioned at the bottom of the screen. This is like in just any other media player application. It will disappear automatically after some time but it can be brought back up by tapping on the screen once.
- Seek bar: Slide it or tap on a certain point in time to navigate different positions of a video.
- Subtitle Button: Choose a Subtitle track (included with the video). Also allows downloading of subtitles, delaying it or selecting a file to use as the on-screen display.
- Play Button: Play or pause the media.
- Aspect Ratio: Change the aspect ratio-Best fit, Fit screen, Fill, 16:9, 4:3, and Center.
- More Options … to access these additional options
- Lock: Lock the screen to play the video without any mistake on screen touch interference.
- Sleep timer: Set a desired time for the app to go to sleep mode (stop playing the playlist).
- Playback speed: Speed up to 4x or go as slow as 0.25x.
- Jump to Time: Navigate to a specific scene in the video by inputting the hour/minute/seconds.
- Equalizer: Access the inbuilt equalizer with presets such as dance, full base and treble, headphones.
- Play as audio: Hide the visuals and only play the audio part of a video.
- Pop up player: Make the video pop out so that you can continue navigating the app.
- Repeat mode: Change the repeat mode to off, repeat current media or playlist.
- Video information: Display bit-rate, codec, resolution, frame-rate, and other media information.
- AB repeat: Repeat a specific section of a single and currently open video.
- Save Playlist: Save the current media as a new playlist or add it to a preexisting playlist.
Downloading Subtitles Automatically
If you are watching, let’s say a movie and you want the subtitles for it automatically then you can click the subtitles button on the player interface, and then, tap on the Subtitles text to expand it. Then hit on Download subtitles. It will do the job automatically (if there exists a subtitle for that video).
For the full tutorial see this- Download subtitles automatically on VLC for Android.
There are three gestures in total. They are performed when videos are playing.
Brightness: Touch the left side of your screen and drag your finger up and down to increase and decrease the brightness respectively.
Volume: Similar to brightness, touch and drag your finger on the right side of your screen to adjust volume.
Seek: Slide your finger left or right to seek toward that direction when any media file is playing. Forward and rewind your video on the fly.
The Audio Player Interface
The audio player interface is as simple as it gets. Tap on the Audio button on the bottom of the main interface. It will switch to the audio player. Open up an MP3 file and you will know how easy it is to navigate through it using the player. The basic controls of playing/pausing and previous and next tracks are right there in the bottom. Choose to repeat the entire playlist, the current playing track or disable repeating using the bottom right option.
On the top of the audio player, you will find options related to casting, searching and more options. Under more options, you can Resume playback, Sort by Name, Display in list or Display in grid, Show all artists, and Refresh. Then, you will find the tabbed menu under which you can sort and display by Artists, Albums, Tracks, and Genres. MP3 files should have the ID3 tags set up to display correctly under these tabbed lists.
Options for Audio Player
When an audio is playing, you will find an options menu [⋮] on the top-right. Under that, you can set the following options-
- Sleep timer: Shut off the player after a certain time.
- Playback speed: Play the MP3 in between 0.25x to 4x speed.
- Jump to time: Jump to a specific time in an audio file. Useful if you access audio books via VLC.
- Equalizer: Access equalizer to spice up your audio playback.
- A-B repeat: Repeat a section of an audio continuously.
- Save playlist: Save the current playlist into a new or existing list.
Options for a Single Audio (not playlist audio)
If we hit the ⋮ against an audio on the list, these options exist.
- Append: Append it to the end of the playlist.
- Information: File length and size.
- Insert next: Play the track next.
- Add to Playlist: Add it to a new or existing list.
- Set as ringtone: Set it as your device’s call tone.
- Delete: Delete the file from storage.
- Share: Share the file with an external application.
Options for a Single Audio in the playlist
When a playlist is accessed, the options against the audio are slightly different from the ones listed above. They are
- Information: Display file length and size.
- Add to Playlist: Add to a new or existing playlist.
- Set as ringtone: Set it as your phone’s ringtone.
- Remove: Remove it from the playlist (not the device)
- Stop after this track: Stops the playback after completing the current track in the playlist.
- Share: Share the file with external applications.
After navigating through the video and audio player interface accessible through the bottom controls, there are three other buttons.
- Browse: Browse your device’s storage. You can access favorite folders or the storage like internal or external memory. It is just like a file browser. Accessing local network is also possible.
- Playlists: Access, sort and delete previously created playlists.
- More: Access the settings, about information of the app. The history and streams are also in this location.
Under More … from the bottom, the ⚙ settings menu is where you can to go if you want to access options to customize your player. Let’s discuss those settings in detail.
Settings – Media Library
- Media Library folders: Under Media Library, you can check all the folders to include when VLC searches for media files. You can tap on a folder to view the subfolders. Check or uncheck folders from the list as per your desire.
- Auto rescan: Leave this option on. It means that the player is always looking for new media files. Once they are detected, they will be added to the player.
Settings – Video
- Background/PiP mode: Choose what happens when your player is in the background as videos are being played. You can choose to stop, play video in the background or use the advanced Picture-in-picture mode.
- Hardware Acceleration: We let the app decide it with the automatic option. You can set it to disabled, decoding acceleration or full acceleration to let the hardware (phone or tablet) do media decoding.
- Video screen orientation: It basically is the option to orient your screen (landscape or portrait). You can lock them, choose a single orientation or let the sensor decide with the automatic option selected.
Settings – History
Playback history: Set this option on to keep your media playing history. Uncheck to disable logging of what you played.
Settings – Extra settings > Interface
- Day/Night mode: A dark theme for low-light situations and power saving.
- Android TV interface: Make the user interface more like Android TV.
- Set locale: Choose a locale.
- Single line list title ellipsize: Align the title left, right, middle or set is as marquee.
Settings – Extra settings > Interface – Video
- Show seen video marker: Check it to market videos if they have been watched till the end.
- Video playlist mode: Turn in on to play all the videos.
- Video thumbnails: Show or hide video thumbnails in the lists.
Settings – Extra settings > Interface – Audio
- Blurred cover background: Have a blurred background of the cover of the audio file in the player.
- Show last playlist tip: Resume the last played audio with this tip.
- Media cover on Lockscreen: Show the media cover when the phone is locked with VLC playing the audio.
Settings – Extra settings > Video
- Save audio delay: Remember the audio delay for individual videos.
- Save brightness level: Keep the brightness level for each videos.
- Save Playback Speed: Recall the playback speed for single videos.
- Fast Seek: Quickly but not so accurately seek in a playing media.
- Video transition: Display the title for transition.
- Use custom Picture-in-Picture popup: A resizable popup will be activated for videos.
- Resume played videos: Continue the last played video.
Settings – Extra settings > Video – Controls
- Audio boost: Boost the volume up to 200%. Might not be friendly for your speakers.
- Volume gesture: Enable up and down dragging to increase and decrease the volume.
- Brightness gesture: Enable the gestures to help you dim or lighten your phone.
- Double tap to seek: If you double tap on the screen, your video will be forwarded by 10 seconds.
- Seek buttons: You will have the rewind and forward buttons on the video player.
- Video player controls hiding delay: Set the time after which the on-screen controls disappears
Settings – Extra settings > Video – Secondary display
- Prefer Clone: Clone the device screen instead of displaying a remote control.
Settings – Extra settings > Subtitles
- Autoload subtitles: Search the internet for the movies’ subtitles to be loaded automatically.
- Subtitle Size: Choose between small, normal, big and huge.
- Subtitles Color: Choose White, Gray, Pink, Blue, Yellow or Green as your subtitle color.
- Subtitle Background: Display a background behind your subtitle text so that they are easily legible.
- Bold Subtitle: Make them stand out.
- Subtitle text encoding: Choose an encoding like UTF-8.
Settings – Extra settings > Audio
- Resume playback after a call: Pause the media and resume after a called is picked up and dropped.
- Save Playback Speed: Remember the speed of playback.
- Stop on application swipe: Stops audio or video playback when VLC app is swiped and closed. Otherwise, it would play in the background and controls will be there in the notification bar.
- Digital audio output (passthrough): Disable or enable the audio digital output.
Settings – Extra settings > Audio – Headset
- Detect headset: Know when the headset is connected/disconnected.
- Resume on headset insertion: When a headset is removed pause the file. When it is inserted back, resume the media playback.
Settings – Extra settings > Audio – Advanced
- Audio output: Choose between AudioTrack and OpenSL ES.
Settings – Extra settings > Casting
- Wireless casting: Enable or disable wireless casting with the slider.
- Audio Passthrough: Give the control of audio rendering to your TV.
- Conversion quality: Choose between lowest, low, medium and high for the quality that is cast.
Settings – Extra settings > Advanced
- Network caching value: Enter the value in milliseconds for the amount of song that is downloaded so that you don’t have to wait for it to buffer.
- Prefer SMB 1: A fix to error in browsing SMB servers.
- Dump media database: Copy the database of your media to the internal storage.
- Clear media database: Go to the Android options for the player from where you can clear cache and data that the app uses.
- Clear playback history: Remove everything from your playback history.
- Quit and restart application: Restart VLC.
Settings – Extra settings > Advanced – Performance
- Time-stretching audio: Changing the speed won’t impact the voice pitch in audio. It works great with devices having powerful processors.
- OpenGL ES2 usage: Use or disable OpenGL.
- Force video chroma: Select between RGB 32 or 16-bit, and YUV.
- Deblocking filter settings: Choose filters like automatic, full deblocking, medium deblocking, low deblocking, and no deblocking.
- Frame skip: Skip frames if decoding is slow.
Settings – Extra settings > Advanced – Developer
- Verbose: Increase the logcat verbosity.
- Debug logs: Start the logs to view errors and debugging messages.
- Custom libVLC options: Core vlc engine.
As you can see through the explanations above how powerful the player is and the options it has to give you full control. From playing files of any format to gestures to changing how the player behaves, VLC has an option for it. A normal user might not require them but it’s good to know that so many features are configurable.
For normal users, just downloading/installing the app, and using it to play every file that there is, is more than enough. We’re hoping you find this VLC guide for Android useful.