How to Enable or Disable Multiple Instances of VLC Media Player

By default VLC Media Player is set to have multiple instances. That means more than one player or player window can run and operate at the same time. It can be used to access or play multiple media files simultaneously. You can be playing two audio files or a video and an audio file at the same time.

The feature comes to great use when there is a video or an audio file playing and you want to pause it and open a different media file. It allows you to keep your playback position in the original media file so you can continue it later. You can do a variety of other tasks like convert audio formats or cut video files in one VLC instance while playing something entertaining in another window.

Enabling Multiple Instances

VLC comes pre-packed with the multiple instance option enabled. If it has been somehow disabled and you want to allow it:

  • Go to Tools > Preferences [CTRL + P].
    VLC Tools Preferences
  • Under the currently selected Interface preference, find the heading that says Playlist and Instances.
  • Make sure that Allow only one instance checkbox is not checked.
    Option to Allow Single Instance of VLC

To open a second player window, we just have to click on any shortcut which is used to access the software. Search for and click on the VLC menu item from the start menu and it will open a new one. Similarly, you can also simply right-click on the current VLC icon in the task bar and click on VLC Media Player to open a new one.

Different media files can be dragged to or opened [Media > Open File] from any one of the running VLC instance. But when we directly open a media file by clicking on it or by instructing it to play with the software, the first open window of the software plays it. That means if you’re trying to pause and play a different file, the new instance—even though it is already open—is not used.

So, if you want every new file to open in a new VLC window then follow these steps:

  • Go to Tools > Preferences [CTRL + P].
  • Under Playlists and Instances, uncheck the option that says Use only one instance when started from the file manager.
    Single Instance when Opened from File Manager

Now, every media file that you open from the Windows file explorer or any other place will open in a completely new VLC Media Player window. Every single video or audio file will get their own player. Don’t forget to pause a previously playing file otherwise things might not sound pretty.

Disabling Multiple Instances

If you prefer to use a single window of the player every time then do not open more than one instance. But you want to disable the feature completely then follow these steps:

  • Go to Tools > Preferences [CTRL + P].
  • Under Playlist and Instances, check the option that says Allow only one instance.
    Disabling Multiple Instances of VLC
  • If unchecked, check the option that says Use only one instance when started from file manager.

Now only one player will run at one time. Even though you click a shortcut to the software again, there won’t be a second VLC on your screen. When you open a media file from the file manager it will take over the currently playing file and the new one will begin playing.

If you want the new one to queue up in the playlist:

  • Go to preferences once again.
  • In the Playlist and Instances option check the one that says Enqueue items into playlist in one instance mode.
    Enqueue new files from file manager

Now when you open a media file via the windows file manager, it will get queued up in the playlist. The currently playing file won’t be disturbed. To access the playlist press the shortcut key CTRL + L, or click on View > Playlist in the menu.

6 thoughts on “How to Enable or Disable Multiple Instances of VLC Media Player

  1. Well I gave up and hit reset all preferences and it went away. I realized it was happening on all files regardless of type that I had. Obviously I either fell asleep and my hands landed on the keyboard and turned something on or the last thing i was tweaking with caused it which was the audio mixer but I tried to remember setting it back to what the settings were before my tweak and pretty sure i did but that didn’t work either…and i didn’t really expect a change in the audio mixer panel to have this kind of effect.

    I do have on last parting thing anyone reading this might help exploring. The multiple screen display looks like it’s for one of those big giant wall of monitors you would set up to display the picture aross all of them. And my hypothesis has one little bit to support it: there are 9 windows that open up as I mentioned earlier, all with a different piece of the picture… but the number is significant because when you look at it in task manager it says you have 10: it’s counting the 9 little baby ones and #10 is the main big one which, if you think about it, would be your control booth monitor for queuing your stuff and adjusting the others and so on. There may even be an array of special effects and if you see anything that asks you which monitor 1 thru 9 to apply something to, that’s exactly what it is then.
    No doubt there’s a name for one of those large multi-panel display walls and we have them all over the place here in Vegas (Like The Rain night club at the Palms with Paul Oakenfold and stuff like that) I just don’t know the tech term or I could look for it in the settings and answer the question just for OCD purposes (some of you will get the joke 🙂 )
    Good luck on your quest.

  2. The baby windows open in the upper left corner of my monitor in a cascade, and cannot be moved. However I also noticed that they can be maximized and when I do, the full window title is displayed and it says “VLC (Direct 3D output)”.
    I also notice that the video is playing rotated positive 90 degrees.

  3. I”m having the same problem. It started doing it just recently and on files it didn’t used to…like the 2015 Dr. WHo Xmas Special for example, in mp4 format.
    I’ve just started the usual stuff like checking for viruses and so on. Windows Defender quickscan came back negative on it. Did a windows defender custom full scan on it. Negative. Registered copy of Malware bytes antimalware home premium and turned up negative.
    I have no idea what would be causing. It opens one big main window then a topn of baby windows and when i click x to end one of the baby windows it acts as if it just reopened it again.
    The results are te same f i end task in task manager.
    Closing the Main window is the only way to kill them all. It opens 10 instances.

    Note: I just noticed when looking at all the windows at once, they are different points of view. Is there some kind of video surround technology going on? Maybe I accidentally activated it or something.

  4. recently VLC opens a new player every time i open a file, I can’t get it to run one instance at a time and it does this wheteher a file is playing at the time or finished playing. changing these settings does nothing, reseting back to default and changing settings does nothing

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