Convert Video File Format using VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player is not just a great tool for playing videos; it can do a whole lot of other things like convert videos between different formats. You can convert between a wide range of supported video files using the player. It works great for  most formats and codecs but there are a few issues and the conversion feature is not the best but it still works for most of us. Using it, we can easily swap video types. For example: Convert from AVI to MP4.

You no longer have to search for those .avi to .mp4, .flv to .mp4, .wmv to .avi, .ogg to .mp4 converters. You also shouldn’t be paying for video converters or use the ones that apply watermarks. As we all know, VLC is totally free without any limitations. It works great with most video as well as audio files. As we have seen before, it can also download video streams or audio streams.

Here is how you convert video using VLC Media Player:

  1. From VLC menu bar click on Media > Convert/ Save [Shortcut: CTRL + R]
  2. Open Media dialog box is opened. Click on the Add button to browse for the files that you want to add. Then click Open.
  3. Leave the rest as it is and then click on the Convert/Save button or just hit enter in your keyboard
  4. In the next dialog box, conversion options are displayed. The options are:

    • Convert: Make sure this radio button is selected as you want to convert your file.
    • Display the output: Play/show the output in the player as the conversion happens.
    • Deinterlace: Check this option if you are converting from interlaced video formats example: 1080i, 720i formats displayed in televisions.
    • Profile: Select your desired target file type. Since we are converting a video, select a video format like H.264 with MP3 audio and MP4 container. You can select advanced video and audio codec combinations from the Edit selected profile or Create new profile button but this isn’t usually required.
    • Dump Raw Input: This will keep all the file sizes the same, only changing the file format. Don’t select this option.
  5. Select a destination filename, the one that is converted and saved. Hit Browse, select a location, give a name like final and click on Save.
  6. Then press on the Start button to begin the conversion.
  7. The file position timer of VLC will start to increase/move like a progress indicator. Once it reaches the end, you will know that the conversion has completed.
  8. Your newly converted media file will be saved.

Video Format and Containers Supported

By default, VLC Media Player supports video conversion to the followin range of video formats and containers:

  • H.264 video format  in MP4 file container
  • H.264 video format in TS file container
  • Dirac video format in TS file container
  • MPEG video format in TS file container
  • Theora video format in OGG file container
  • WMV video format in ASF file container
  • DIV3 video format in ASF file container
  • MPEG 1080p/720p video format for TV/device in MP4 file container
  • DivX video format in AVI file container
  • SD video format for iPod in MP4 file container
  • HD video format for iPod HD/iPhone/PSP in MP4 file container
  • SD low and high video format for Android in MP4 file container
  • VP89 VIdeo File in Webm container

*Note: Containers are responsible for the file extension. Example: MP4 container would mean that the file would have *.mp4 file extension. You can also create new media profile with your own combination of video and audio formats. It is explained in the profile section of step 4 of the tutorial above.

Why Convert Video Formats?

  • To reduce size of the videos while maintaining the quality.
  • For use of standard formats which are widely popular.
  • For use in special devices like television and video players that support certain formats only.
  • For ease of sharing with others.
  • To import in video editing software which only supports a limited number of formats.
  • For support in mobile devices like iPhone, iPod, Android devices, Windows phone and others.

For those of you who have problems with getting it to work, here’s an alternative way for converting any video to MP4.

Video Tutorial

82 thoughts to “Convert Video File Format using VLC Media Player”

  1. YAY !!! A big thank-you to Daniel PNW because the interfaces are TOTALLY different and none of these instructions work at all on a Mac. It’s easier to use mencoder from a command lne, and that’s SILLY when the capability is right here but no one documents it. I mean, somene ahd to *write* the code for the Mac, yes ? So someone, somewhere knows how it works. Woould be nice if they’d tell us 🙁

  2. Tried earlier to convert an mkv file into an mp4, but problems occured;
    Instead of converting the original file, VLC simply duplicated the original mkv.
    Has anyone stambled upon this problem, and if so, how may I fix it?

  3. I was poking around and accidentally deleted all the pre-loaded profiles. How can I get them back? Thanks

  4. it WORKS however id LIKE to know the size it will be after conversion before i convert it. im trying to make it a certain size and i have to try each one until i get it the correct size.. im sure there is a ratio somewhere?

  5. I have tried this but the file i’m trying to convert seems to be locked. I am trying to convert a video from a Jvc Everio. would anyone know how to unlock it?

  6. The output file already exists. If recording continues, the file will be overridden and its contents will be lost…… now it gives me a choice, overwrite or keep existing file. either one this message keeps coming back

    1. when the same file name appears just add an ‘a’ to the end and you will have two files, the original and the converted with the ‘a’.

  7. Need to have “Random” (the 2 crossing arrows) unselected in the player or VLC just plays the videos instead of converting.

  8. Britannia (2018) – S01E01 – Episode 1 (1080p BluRay x265 RCVR)

    First, you guys really need to include instructions for VLC on a Mac instead of focusing on just Windows. Major failure b/c the interfaces are totally different.

    Second, there’s so much more to video converting than the tiny bit of info you give here. This tells people nothing about what different codecs mean or which video formats to use. You could easily put a description of what each video format is used for or on which devices they’re best used on.

    I’ve been converting videos when I need to with VLC for a few years and I’ve had to resort to trial and error because you have failed to give any usable, relevant information to help users convert their videos… which is what this page should contain.

    My advice to everyone is try and find video conversion instructions on another site but don’t spend much time on it… I’ve found very few sites that give usable info on how to convert with VLC. It’s going to waste a lot of time but use trial and error and when you have options that actually work, save those options as a profile to use it in the future.

    VLC: if you simply went a bit in depth with the conversion process, you’ll probably have a lot more people use your application.

  9. hi
    why my video not show subtitles when play it in Android
    forexample when I convert video with vlc with subtitles it will be normal and play it in pc and show subtitles ….
    but when I tranfer same video,to my mobil it will not show subtitles
    same video in pc it show subtitles ,but not show in mobile phone ….

    1. VLC Android seems to not pick the subtitles automatically. You’d have to Select the subtitle manually.

  10. Why do I get a blank screen, with VLC logo in center, for the first ten seconds when converting in this new update of VLC? THe original doesn’t have the blank screen. When I first used it a jpeg in the same folder was inserted for the first ten seconds. I moved the file into a different folder without the jpeg, and I still get a blank screen, with the VLC logo, for first ten seconds.

  11. I am trying to compress a 2GB mp4 to a smaller mp4 on Windows 10 ASUS ZenBook with vlc 3.0.8 set to ‘Convert’ with “Video – H.264/MP3 (MP4)” and “Keep original audio track”. I have followed YouTube How To tutorials, but vlc only plays audio (there is no video).

  12. Follow the exact instructions, but always get the same error: The output file already exists. If recording continues, the file will be overridden and its content will be lost. – BTW the conversion never works.

    1. You have to specify a different filename or check the box that says “append ‘-converted’ to filename.” For batch jobs (where you are doing multiple at once) the latter is your only option. I do this so I can verify the quality against the original and then I’ll delete the old ones to save space.

  13. I am trying to figure out how to convert MP4 videos to MPG in VLC for playback from a USB stick on my TV.
    I need a video file with either MPEG1 or MPEG2 and an extension of “.mpg”
    I think I need to create my own profile. Does anybody know what settings to use for encapsulation, etc.

    1. This is from a year ago and hopefully you’ve figured it out by now, but Google led me here when I was searching for the same answer, so I thought I would fill in the gap by giving my answer:
      Create a new Profile once you get to the Convert/Save screen, then for the new profile choose:
      – encapsulation: choose MPEG-TS or MPEG-PS. Supposedly MPEG-TS is for streaming and PS is for storage, like DVD, but my DVDs seem to use TS encapsulation, based on their filenames and at a high bitrate, it shouldn’t matter too much. My Sony TV played either format. It also played DVD .vob files as long as I changed the extension to .mpg so it could find them (DVDs use MPEG-2).
      – Video codec: choose MPEG-2 for the codec, choose 30 for the frames/sec, and choose something high for the bitrate, like 4500 kb/s, but you can choose a different one if you’d like. The bitrate will be a tradeoff between file size and video quality. For Resolution, change the Frame Size from auto to 1920px for width and 1080px for height. This should match a standard 1080 HDTV. There was no way to zoom a smaller resolution video playback on my Sony TV and it would just play it in the center of the screen, with a massive black border, which was “underwhelming.”
      – Audio codec: choose MPEG Audio, leave the bitrate at 128 kb/s and channels at 2, unless your system supports more and you want to use it. Then be sure to set the sample rate to 44100 Hz or 48000 Hz, because at the default 8000 Hz, I was getting “VLC Could not Open the mpga audio encoder” errors.
      Ok, save the profile as something like “Sony Bravia” or whatever name you feel is appropriate.
      Unfortunately, it won’t let you set a default file extension, as that gets set indirectly when you choose the encapsulation method. That means that when you choose the destination file (or after converting the file), you’ll have to change the file extension to .mpg from .ts (or whatever) so the TV finds it. Then just wait for the conversion to complete and copy it to your USB thumbdrive.
      Another note about the display of these on my Sony TV: When I plugged in my USB, I saw a bunch of film icons that one-by-one became black. All that was happening was the TV was peeking into the front of the video and creating a thumbnail based on the first image in the video. Since mine faded in from black, it showed me a lovely black thumbnail. The filenames were still visible on the left though, so I could keep track of everything.
      Anyway, hope this helps someone.

      1. Correction to my post: You should use MPEG-PS, which will allow you to use fast forward (and rewind) on your video via the remote. If you use MPEG-TS, the TV will not let you do so!

  14. VLC was working for me to convert AVI files to MP4s but after a recent update it no longer works. I go through the steps perfectly, but the resulting file is 1kb and is absolutely nothing. Did something break? Am I supposed to do something different? I need to be able to convert my files. Please any help would be greatly appreciated.

  15. VLC works fine for (ripped) TS file conversion to mp4.
    Go to Media menu, select Covert/Save, click Disc tab and browse the folder (VIDEO_TS), click Covert/Save.

    Select profile, verify the Profile selection ‘video – H.264 + mp3 (mp4)’, select Profile Editor (the wrench). AKA Profile Settings
    On Profile Editor screen select the Audio Codec tab, verify Sample is set to 48k and Codec to MPEG 4 (AAC), click Save (this may take a few seconds then exits).

    Back on Convert screen click Browse for preferred location of the destination file, give it a file name, click Start.
    VLC will slowly run the conversion (approx 30 mins., 600mb for 2hr movie). Works great!

    Handbrake works fine as well but creates mp4 file size 30% larger w/same quality IMO.

    Strange issue when using VLC File (tab) method as opposed to DISK tab.
    Open VLC, Click Media, Convert/Save then add all TS files from within the TS_Video folder (the BUPs/Backups are not recognized or included). Convert.

  16. I convert videos a lot, but VLC doesn’t seem to work, I use the preset video files in the convert option, but when I go to convert it, the video plays, but is not converted, I know the screen should be black, and a progress bar should be shown at the bottom, instead, the video plays and is not converted, even after the video is finished playing it still doesn’t convert, a file is created, but has errors, and is only about 100 bytes large, is there a problem and what should I do about this, I have tries to reinstall it, but that didn’t work, the same happens when I try to save a video from the internet using the convert/save network protocol option, for example, YouTube videos, this results in a stream of the video, but no file is saved.

  17. Just curious why a filename is needed for the conversion target, why can’t it just use the current filename? I know it seems simple to create a filename but it’s odd that if I’m converting a video to audio that it doesn’t at least insert the original filename into the target since the extension will change.

  18. If I use a constant bitrate in the video codec options, I end up with a framerate of only about 16 in the converted file. The input is a 29fps .mp4 that plays beautifully. I want to “convert” it to do some video tweaking on things like brightness. All that works, but the output file’s frame rate is low so the video isn’t smooth. I tried using the Quality mode instead, setting it to 18, then 23, then 30… The framerate is then 29, and the video quality is much better, BUT, playing the output in VLC or WIndows Media Player, it runs for a few seconds, then stops, then runs for a few seconds, and so on, as though the video is just too demanding for the player to keep up with this. And yet… the original mp4 plays fine.

  19. PLEASE add the ability to convert any video to .MKV. It just seems to be incomplete without that format capability. VLC is a great product, but if it is going to usable as a professional quality video converter it MUST support all the formats it can play, especially the industry wide royalty free .MKV format.

  20. I manage to figure out how to convert mp4 files to avi files using divx video & mp3 audio, it works however, some movies don’t play till the very end? Why not?

  21. Hi, I am trying to convert .wmv files to mjpeg .avi, the convertion works fine but the resolution of the converted .avi files is so bad, is it possible to get converted files with at least as good a resolution as the .wmv files?

  22. Hey Tony I couldn’t get VLC to work, however I’ve gotten “Handbrake” to work as a good converter.

  23. Hi. I am trying to convert mkv to avi and there is no sound. The size of the file is also markedly reduced, eg. 93.7 mg when converted to avi and original mkv file 387 mb. I have assumed that this is because the audio has not been included when I converted the file, but can I expect the file size to be compressed when converting from mkv to avi?
    My real problem is lack of audio. I am copying from USB hard drive to USB hard drive so I can watch the programs on my TV (by plugging my USB into my DVD Player), which usually works a treat.

  24. I am trying to convert m2ts (2 Giga) to mp4, the conversion starts but when it is almost done… finishes and leave a 2Kb file instead of the Mp4… is the m2ts too big ? What is the problem

  25. Converting .avi to mp4. Followed all instructions, and everything great EXCEPT the audio is about 2 seconds behind the video. Any suggestions please to get them in sync? Apart from that, great instructions! I had been looking for a converter online; never realised just how good VLC is!

  26. When uninstalling or installing I checked Delete preferences and cache before re-installing and then was able to get the options. However the audio does not record correctly, either no sound or sound track is off. I have tried to reset preferences but must have messed something up.

    1. Hi,

      Did you ever work out a fix to the problem? I am experiencing the same issue. I can convert MKV to MP4 but the audio is out of Synch.

  27. I have VLC 2.15 on a computer and it has drop down menu for converting to Android and iphone. I have another computer that had an older version and updated to 2.2.1 and it does not have these options. Please advise how I can get these options.

    1. If those profiles or presets are not present, then try creating new profiles by pressing the “Create new profile” button on the right. You can copy the same audio/video details between your two computers.

  28. It worked for me until the last second, it doesn’t move anymore, please help me, I’m converting a huge file (6gb)

  29. wvwery time i convert it it only does the first minute or so and thats it ? I am on a mac mini any suggestions ?

  30. I am trying to convert MOD files to mp4. The converted files wil play fine in VLC, but in any other player, like Windows media, there is no sound. I tried changing the audio output to several different types, but nothing helped. Any ideas? I’d like to send these videos to others to watch who may not have VLC.

      1. Hi, I am having the exact same issue as Cassie. I have played around with multiple video output formats and nothing works. I did try the standard H.264 + MP3 to MP4 and the audio will only play in VLC. Help?

  31. The key solution for those who can’t convert is they didn’t add .mp4 after a file name they created(step 5), you have to add .mp4 after a file name every time.

    1. Currently, batch conversion or converting more than one files at once is supported in VLC but the feature is not accessible through the GUI. That means you will have to use the command line interface to do the conversions. Batch conversion is planned to be introduced in VLC 3.0.0.

  32. Would have been nice if it also converted 1080i .ts files to 720p .mkv, buggered if I can find an easy way to do this conversion!

    1. Try creating your own profile for the target file. In the Profile editor under the Video codec > Resolution tab, you can specify the 720p resolution.

  33. I have tried dozens of times over months and months, have tried over the last two upgrades. still no joy. I get to the screen and the slide bar never moves. this is one of the places I would put high on my list for tech support and a better (easier) interface.

  34. Using VLC 2.1.5 and MacBook Pro… the windows shown do not come up; I tried to convert .avi and .iso files into mp4 and could not get it to the windows shown in Steps 5 and 6. Would appreciate help!

    1. Well it works for the most of us. You will have to be very careful and follow the steps while ensuring that you do not change any other options.

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