How to Change File Associations in VLC Media Player

If VLC Media Player is your favorite media playing software, you would want a lot if not all of media files to auto open with VLC Media Player. When you double click on a media file, you want the file to open with VLC Media Player naturally. You do not always want to right click on a file, click on open with and then select VLC Media Player to open with it. This would waste a few seconds of your previous time, everytime you have to open a media file.

To make VLC Media Player your default media software, you will have to change file associations. You would do this to remove associations from other players such as Windows Media Player, for example. When you switch file extensions such as .mp4 or .wav to auto open with VLC Media Player, you are saving your self some time and trouble. You won’t have to close some other player time and again when those software try to play your media. VLC offers a quick solution to change file associations to and from VLC.

To change file associations in VLC Media Player follow these steps:

From Options Within VLC

  1. From your VLC Media Player menu, click on “Tools” and then on “Preferences”. [Shortcut: CTRL + P]
  2. In “Interface Settings”, use the scroll bar on the right to scroll down.
  3. As you scroll to the bottom, under “Operating System Integration” heading, you will find a button that says “Set up associations…”. Click on it.
  4. A Windows settings screen will pop up. From there, you can select the extensions that you would like VLC to open by default.
  5. You can select the desired extensions individually or you can just click select all to make VLC the default for all those listed media file types.
  6. Click on Save and you are done.

In Windows 10

The file association options available in VLC might not always work for all versions of Windows. In Windows 10, you have to use the main Settings to change what files are opened by VLC.

Choosing VLC as the Default App in Windows 10

  • Click on the Start button and then choose Settings.
  • Click on Default Apps.
  • From here you can choose the default apps that can open your common files.
  • Change the option in Video player and Music player to from their default one to VLC Media Player.

The settings are saved automatically. Now the default player for all your media files will be VLC. Here are additional details on the different ways to change your default media player back to VLC in Windows 10.

26 thoughts to “How to Change File Associations in VLC Media Player”

  1. So I guess windows 10 no longer allows me to specify file types associated with VLC. It lets me set it to be the default video player, but I can’t tell it specifically to associate MOV files. Hence, I can only get an MOV file to play if I open VLC and drag the file into the program window.. It looks like this kind of problem has been mentioned over and over, and the only answer I saw was that the problem is probably due to a windows update. So the question is, will the VLC developers create a solution for this?

    1. You can, Randy.. In Windows 10, go to Settings, Apps, Default Apps, Choose default apps by file type, then scroll down to “.mov”. It should already be associated with VLC, but if not, you can do so.

  2. Is this for old version? I am asking this because it doesn’t open the window with all file extensions listed, on the latest version of VLC player on Windows 10, anymore. Can anyone help? When I click on File Associations button in latest version of VLC player it prompts through Windows alert popup saying “to change default apps, go to Settings -> Default Apps…..”. This is not helpful. I need to de-select few of the file types. There is no feature to do this.

  3. The current VLC, running on Win 7, hi jacks Windows Explorer. When I double-click on a folder in Explorer to open the folder, VLC preempts Windows and searches for playable files. If there are no playable files, it returns a VLC error. In type associations, I don’t see any way to uncheck searching within a folder. How can I fix this?

    1. Can you right-click on a folder and click on open to access the folder? If I were you, I’d reinstall VLC Media Player to get it fixed. You might also try restoring the folder options in your Windows. Access it from the Windows Explorer (View > Options > Change Folder and Search Options) or just type folder options in your start menu search area. “Restore defaults” under the general and view tab could do the magic.

  4. I have carefully followed the instructions for converting the MKV file types, but, at the end of it all, after VLC appears to work, the file type still states MKV. I’ve put these files on my USB and run them on my smart TVs, but it is unclear as to whether they are MP4 files or not? I’ve checked the instructions dozens of times to see that I following them correctly. Is there anything I am doing wrong? Are they really MP4 files even though it is stated that they are MKV?

    1. MP4 and MKV are just containers. What your smart TV actually supports are video and audio codecs. You will have to look into videos codecs like H.264 or MPEG-4 in your conversion steps.

  5. why is this even a question? it doesn’t take a computer savvy to perform “right click > open with>choose default program” and be done with it. What bothers me about VLC file type description is that it doesn’t display the file extension, so it just says VLC Media File, and that becomes a nuisance when you just want to know what kind of file type you’re looking at, Regedit solves the problem but some people are just not into it. I hope VLC would do something about this tiny weeny nuisance.

  6. How can one add to the File Associations in VLC’s Preferences?… there doesn’t appear to be any way to add to the embedded listed, found under Preferences? And I found the same issue with Windows’ File Associations list, and that of ImageGlass! My hope was to include the Windows sidebar.exe slideshow gadget within any of the just cited File Associations lists, so that I could “associate” the slideshow gadget file, with VLC! But!… not finding the file in any of the just mentioned lists… and not being able to add the file to any of the lists… makes it impossible to associate the file– so far!– with the VLC media player! Lastly, one of my DESPARATE NEEDS re the MS Windows sidebar.exe slideshow gadget, is to reduce the minimum slideshow speed to 1/24th of a second, and to increase the number of pics within this reduced time frame, to 24 (the basic fps rate for a standard motion picture!)! As it stands now, the denoted slideshow runs at a minimum of one pic every (5) seconds! RIDICULOUS!

    No email please!

    1. Which version of VLC do you use? In my Windows VLC 2.1.5 which is currently the latest version, the layout is still the same.

      1. PS, I re-installed it to get the file associations back after WMP stole them (with seemingly no way from stopping it).

    1. Well normally, you won’t be able to un-check any file type. You’ll have to use the file association option of another program to switch it. Try right clicking on your .pls file and select Open with > Choose default program and find the program that you want to associate your .pls file with.

    If you drag a file that is an exe that is labelled mp4 it will give you an error of sorts, but somehow without your knowledge it then associates exe files to the VLC program. This basically will make all your programs try to launch inside VLC. This inlcudes explorer.exe firefox.exe and other startup programs. Ultimately this messes with your registry even though exe are not a supported format.
    This needs to be addressed!

    1. I tried it and it doesn’t happen for me. VLC doesn’t automatically switch the file association to it just because you dragged a file to the player.

        1. Open Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Default Programs\Set Default Programs Select “VLC Media Player” and then “Choose defaults for this program”. From there, deselect .bin and click “Save”.

  8. It would be nice to know how to “undo” all this. Even after unchecking all the above file types,
    mp4 files still say “VLC media file” and will not open with windows media player.

    1. Yes you won’t be able to uncheck the boxes to reset the file association. For undoing the file associations in VLC Media Player, you have to go to some other media player and set the association for that player to the file type. For switching back to Windows Media Player, you can simply right click on a media file > Open With > Choose default program… and then select it from the list.

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