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]
    vlc-tools-preferences
  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.
    set-up-associations
  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.
    vlc-associations
  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.

13 thoughts on “How to Change File Associations in VLC Media Player

    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.

  1. PROBLEM WITH VLC:
    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”.

  2. 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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