Fix Stretched Video in VLC by Changing Aspect Ratio

When watching a movie or playing a simple video, if the resolution is not right or if the video dimensions seem a bit off, then to fix it—simply change the aspect ratio in VLC. If the video feels stretched—like the height or width is long—making objects and people in it appear abnormal in terms of size, then VLC Media Player offers a quick fix.

What you need to do is: Change or cycle through the different aspect ratios that are possible until you find the best one. The easiest way to cycle through the available aspect ratio is by using the shortcut key: A.

Press ‘A’ on your keyboard once and it will switch to the next ratio. When the change is initiated, you will see the information on the top of the screen. You will see a text like Aspect Ratio: Default, Aspect Ratio: 16:9 etc. The text displays on the top-right of the screen only for a short time.

Aspect Ratio in VLC

The same feature is also accessible through the menu bar or using the right click menu. On the menu bar as well as the right click menu, you will find it under: Video > Aspect Ratio. Using the menu items allows you to list all the possible aspect ratio and switch the right one.

Here is the list of all the possible aspect ratios:

  • (null)
  • Default
  • 16:9
  • 4:3
  • 1:1
  • 16:10
  • 21:1
  • 35:1
  • 39:1
  • 5:4

One of them will make the video look normal. If it doesn’t then try:

Using Custom Aspect Ratios

There’s also an option to set custom aspect ratios in VLC. The option is present in the simple preferences, under video.

Here’s how to set custom aspect ratio in VLC:

  • Go to Tools > Preferences [CTRL + P].
  • Click on Video.
  • For Force Aspect Ratio enter a value like: 33:20 (or anything else).
    Force Aspect Ratio
  • Click Save.

Restart VLC or start a new instance and by default, it will use the value that you set in force aspect ratio. You can again cycle through the values by pressing ‘A’ on your keyboard. You will also find the new value in the menu under Video > Aspect Ratio and it will stay as the default one unless you remove it. The custom aspect ratio won’t work for all the videos, so you might want to remove it and keep it Aspect Ratio: Default.

To Permanently Change the Aspect Ratio

The steps above shows you how you can fix the video from stretching for playing in VLC only. If you want the aspect ratio changes to be permanent, then you can use the convert/save feature. Here’s how you can do it:

  • From the menu bar, go to Media > Convert / Save. [CTRL + R]
  • Click on Add, and browse and add the current video.
  • Click on Convert/Save.
    Converting Media in VLC
  • In the next step, don’t forget to choose a Destination file.
  • The default Profile should be fine. So, press Start to begin the process.
    Media Conversion Step

Now, if you play the output video, you will find that the aspect ratio has changed. If you did it correctly, then the destination file will fix your video stretching problem.

33 thoughts to “Fix Stretched Video in VLC by Changing Aspect Ratio”

  1. I don’t know why this wasn’t suggested, but the first method should be fine PROVIDED the needed aspect ratio exists in the list when you cycle through them by pressing A. If it is not you can add it to the list manually, and it’ll save it in VLC for future use.
    Do the following:
    Go to Tools/Preferences
    Change Simple to All bottom left for advanced options
    Scroll down to Video on left side
    On right side scroll down to ‘Custom aspect ratio list’
    Type in there the ratio you need, for example 9:16
    Save and exit
    Next time you load VLC and watch the video hit A until the new aspect ratio appears, usually at the end

    1. Dear Friends,

      I am running VLC 3.0.16, and I cannot find a way to make a permanent change in the aspect ratio of a video file. If I open a file, I can change the aspect ratio easily in VLC. Works fine while viewing it in VLC.
      I have tried forcing the ratio and saving the preferences.
      I then open the file and convert/save it.
      This works the next time I open the video (with the force in effect), but it appears that the changed ratio has not been saved because when I eliminate the forced ratio from my preferences, the old aspect ratio is present.

      This is not a life and death matter, but it would be convenient if I could change the aspect ratio so that I do not need to dot this when I play the video.

      Any and all thoughts/comments will be appreciated.


    2. I my case this doesn’t work: the new aspect ratio doesn’t appear in the list on hitting “A”, neither has the forced aspect ratio been adopted – nothing happens at all.

  2. It doesn’t work in VLC 3.0.14. When VLC gets to the end of the conversion, it endlessly pops up a box asking “do you want to overwrite or keep the file?” Regardless of which option is selected, the box pops up again and again. Had to select “end task” in the task manager. The output file was created, but it has the same aspect ratio as the input file.

  3. It does work, the only thing missing here is that you need to set the number of pixels ( 640 / 480 ) yourself, like 1 person here pointed out, under video codecs/resolution, and there type in by hand height and width. I sit on a 64-bit Windows 10 and just converted sucessfully a video 🙂

  4. Unfortunately above instructions “To Permanently Change the Aspect Ratio” do NOT work! “Media > Convert/Save” is there in VLC version 3.0.11 but I can’t find anywhere in the Convert/Save process a menu where you can specify the aspect ratio of the destination file.

      1. Jonas,You keep saying (and youre the only one saying it) it works yet none of your suggestions actually work. Ive tried them all and nada. All it does is save in the “squashed” aspect. Face it, nothing you say works. Nothing that VLC says works. So its safe to say without assuming “IT DOESNT WORK.” Call us when VLC fixes it. Better yet VLC show just stick to being a player and not a fixer. LOL. I’ll just use my video editing software to fix issues like this and stick with windows media player to play videos.

    1. Forcing the aspect ratio works for me. Question, how do you watch videos that are 1280×720 or 1920×1080 in resolution with a permanent aspect ratio of 16:9 or 16:10? I’ve tried it, and VLC player ends up being huge. The resolution on my laptop is 1366×768. Also is there a way to change the aspect ratio of the dvd menus before ripping them? I am using version 3.0.11

      1. Open VLC -> Tools -> Preferences you land on the “Interface” tab where you should untick “Resize interface to video size” then you VLC player wont resize to video resolution.

  5. Unfortunately above instructions “To Permanently Change the Aspect Ratio” do NOT work! “Media > Convert/Save” is there in VLC version 3.0.11 but I can’t find anywhere in the Convert/Save process a menu where you can specify the aspect ratio of the destination file.

  6. Is there a way to make VLC use the aspect ratio declared in the video file’s metadata?
    For example, if I play a FLV file with (output from ffprobe):
    Stream #0:0: Video: h264 (High), yuv420p(progressive), 1280×720 [SAR 3:4 DAR 4:3], 1750 kb/s, 25 fps, 25 tbr, 1k tbn, 50 tbc
    with setting “Default” I would expect it to be played with the correct 4:3 aspect ratio automatically.
    However VLC ignores the SAR and DAR values and plays it with 1:1 pixels, resulting in a horizontally stretched 16:9 image.
    Of course I can check each video I play with ffprobe first and then set VLC manually to the correct AR, but that is quite tedious.

  7. After the last step, I had a black screen and nothing happening. I had to press the triangle play button to create the new file and start the conversion. VLC seriously needs a usability overhaul.

    1. Works like a charm with the 32 bit version of VLC. 64 bit version does not work for conversions. Tested fine with version 3.08 (vlc-3.0.8-win32.exe)

    1. It doesn’t actually crash; it drops to the background. Odd behavior, to be sure. I did find that the resulting file is almost twice the size of the original using the H.264+MP3(MP4) profile, and VLC won’t open it, so something is amiss. Experimenting with other profiles…

  8. I convert a 16:9 video to 4:3 and it displays correctly in VLC, but the destination file remains 16:9. Whether Force 4:3 or not seems to make no fifference.

  9. Maybe something has changed in two-and-a-half years, but this does not work. I do exactly what you said, and it works exactly as you said. Until I remove the Forced Aspect Ratio from the preferences. Then when I play the original and the changed, the aspect ratio is exactly the same. When I ask Windows Explorer to show me the frame height and width, they are exactly same. Nothing changed.

    1. It doesn’t work for me either. I request conversion of a stretched 16:9 video into 4:3, and it is displayed corectly in VLC but the destination file remains 16:9. Force 4:3 seems to make no difference.

    1. Just press the on-screen button. The one on the bottom-right that shows up when you tap on the screen once.

  10. I have version “2.2.4 Weatherwax” on my Macbook Retina, and there is no “Forced Aspect Ratio” in VLC>Preferences>Video.

  11. I have carefully followed the steps in the section “To permanently change the aspect ratio” and they don’t work. I have saved a forced aspect ratio of 22:10 in video settings (which is what I needed to stretch out a video that was too narrow) and then converted the file but when I open it in another media player or reset the aspect ratio in VLC back to default, the video still plays too narrow. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the Convert process where you can specify the aspect ratio of the destination file. Is there a solution to this?

  12. RIC that’s exactly what I was looking for… no answers yet? If you go to Tools>preferences>video> aspect ratio and Save, it does not save it for other videos,only the one currently playing. any help please??

    1. Follow the new steps that has been added above. It’s under the sub heading “To Permanently Change the Aspect Ratio”.

      1. Nope, the permanent changing doesn’t work. You probably opened the converted video with Forced Aspect Ration Preference saved. So it seems correct. When you reset the preference and open the video you should still see the original aspect ration in the converted video.

      2. It doesn’t work though. It just saves the file in the same aspect ratio it was originally. How do you change it?

      3. … except at this point, there’s no “Media > Convert/Save” anymore, I guess. That’s what brought me here in the first place (a way to convert the aspect ratio to 16:9 and save it), but it’s no longer possible, I guess? I can change it while viewing but not finding a way to save it in the ‘Convert/Stream’ option (which appears to be the only ‘convert’ mechanism now). Thoughts?

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