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 3.0.* 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. 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 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 audio 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 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 dashboard. You can navigate through your media files using the simple tap, hold and drag gesture; the method you use to scroll on your phone. On the top, you will see (1) Hamburger menu, (2) Search, (3) Repeat/Resume last playlist, (4) More options ⋮ under which there are the (i) sort and (ii) refresh features.
Playing media files is easy. Just tap on the files displayed in the player (under video or audio found at the hamburger menu ☰). 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 by VLC. There won’t be any issue with the file format and you will be able to play anything.
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The Video Player Interface
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.
Lock button: Lock the screen so that you can watch the video in peace. Accidentally tapping on the screen will do nothing.
Subtitles button: Choose an audio track, audio delay, subtitle file or download the subtitles for it automatically.
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 and hit on Download subtitles. It will do the job automatically (if there exists a subtitle for that video). The same option is also available from the dashboard when you press the three dots option button beside a video file.
Basic Media Controls: The next three buttons are for navigating previous and next tracks and the play/pause button is in the middle.
Options button: It is the one with the three horizontal dots. Various options are displayed on the screen—timer settings, playback speed, jump to time, equalizer, play as audio (hide video), Pop-Up player, repeat mode, A-B repeat and Save Playlist options are all in here. This is an important button in the player itself.
Resize button: The final button. It allows you to choose the dimensions of the video and how it fills up your phone screen.
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, tough and drag your finger on the right side of your screen to adjust volume.
Seek: Hold your finger on the screen and drag it 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. 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 you will find options related to searching the playlist, displaying album art and accessing additional options. Additional options button is the one with the three buttons. Tap on it and you can select the sleep timer, playback speed, jump to time, equalizer, A-B repeat and Save Playlist to save the current queue as a playlist.
Hamburger Menu ☰
It’s the menu with the three lines located on the top right of the app. You might have noticed the same format in several other Android applications. Under it, you will find the following options:
- Video: Loads up the video player and displays a list of videos on your device. Just tap on a video file and it begins to play immediately.
- Audio: Access the audio player. You will find tabs to sort songs by artists, albums, songs, and genres. Tap on a song under artist, album or genre and it will play immediately. There are also options to append it to the end of the current playlist, add it as the next song to be played or create a new playlist with the file.
- Playlist: A unified playlist feature. The list can now contain any type of media files–audio and video.
- Directories: A handy file manager to navigate through the folders in search of media files. You can play everything inside a folder from here.
- Local Network: Access shared folders and media under those share folders on your local network. You can hit the plus icon to access files from protocols like FTP, FTPS, SFTP, SMB, and NFS. The server address, username, folder path and port are required for access.
- Stream: Enter an HTTP:// address to stream the file to your player directly.
- History: It is the playback history. It should be enabled first for the option to appear.
- Settings: A whole host of options to customize your player. You can choose your media library folder from there and edit critical options like interface, video settings, subtitles, audio, and casting.
- About: View the about page for the player and the license information as well.
Under the hamburger menu, 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.
- Save Playback Speed: Keep the playback speed that you set, saved.
- Set locale: Choose a locale.
- Resume playback after a call: Pause or resume the media while in a call.
- Show all files in browser: Displays non-media files in the browser helping you access your entire file database just like a file manager.
- Blurred cover background: Blur the audio player’s cover in the background.
- Secondary display – Prefer clone: Duplicate the video on the mobile instead of displaying just controls when using Chromecast or any secondary display.
Settings – Extra settings > Video
- Group Videos: Keep the videos with the first letters same, together.
- Show screen video marker: Identify videos if they are played until the end.
- No grid in portrait mode: Switch between listing the videos or displaying them in a grid when the phone is held horizontally.
- Save brightness level for video: Remember how bright the screen was when playing video.
- Save audio delay: Remember audio delay settings for each video.
- Fast seek: Keep it checked to be able to seek within a video file that is currently playing.
- Videos transition: Video title change when switching videos will include a transition effect.
- Use custom Picture-in-Picture popup: A resizable popup will be activated for videos.
- Audio-boost: Volume will be able to go above 100% to 200%. Might not be friendly for your speakers.
- Video playlist mode: All the videos you have will be played sequentially.
- 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.
- Ask confirmation to resume: Do you want to continue playing from the last location? Then check this option ON.
- 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.
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
- 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.
- Show all artists: Display all artists in the listing, even those which aren’t on any albums.
- Media cover on Lockscreen: Display the media art on the lock screen when an audio track is playing.
- Save repeat mode: Keep the repeat mode on that was set.
- Audio title alignment: Align the audio title to left, right or display it moving as a marquee.
- Remove control shortcuts: Applicable when your headset is connected. You can double press play to go to the next track. Long press on your headset to go to the previous track.
- 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.
- 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
- Show hidden files: Display hidden files in the inbuilt file browser.
- 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.
- 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.
- Time stretching audio: Allows changing the speed of the audio without changing the pitch.
- OpenGL ES2 usage: For 360 videos. Let the app decide this one.
- Force video chroma: Choose one with the best performance.
- Deblocking filter settings: Advanced users can switch the deblocking options for improving video quality.
- Frame skip: Frames will be skipped when decoding videos.
- Verbose: Keep the logcat.
- Debug logs: Useful for developers to view the logs.
- Custom libVLC options: Enter a value here.
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.