How to Go Frame by Frame in VLC

While playing a media file in VLC, sometimes you will have the need to go frame by frame. To get to an exact shot or scene, you will need to play the video forward one frame at a time. VLC has a frame by frame feature that allows you to step just the tiniest bit ahead in a movie. It gives you full control of where you want to reach in the timeline. Unfortunately, VLC doesn’t support frame-stepping backwards; it’s only possible to move forward.

There are two simple ways you can follow to move one frame ahead at the time. One is by using the shortcut key and two is from the Advanced Controls bar of the player interface.

Shortcut Key

This has to be the simplest method. Just navigate in the timeline where you want to capture or pause at a frame. Then, hit the shortcut key: e.

To use this shortcut, your video can be either playing or pausing. If it is playing, then hitting ‘E’ would stop the play and will navigate it forward one frame at a time. Tap on the ‘E’ key on your keyboard a couple of times to get to the accurate place in the media.

If the hotkey ‘E’ doesn’t work for you, then it is likely that another keyboard character has been assigned to the task. You can view (or even edit) the shortcuts by going to Tools > Preferences and then by switching to the Hotkeys tab. Enter frame on the search area to bring it up easily. Edit it if you want or keep it as it is.

Next Frame Hotkeys

You may be interested in: How to Edit VLC Media Player Shortcuts or Hotkeys

Advanced Controls

The default layout of the player doesn’t display the next frame button on it. You will have to bring it up in the interface. If you haven’t changed anything, then go to the View menu and then click on Advanced Controls to turn it on.

You will notice another line of player controls appear right above the default set of media control keys. Press the last button in the advanced controls to access the frame by frame feature.

Next Frame Button

It looks like a film strip; actually, two film strips like they’re skipping (frame skipping). If you put your mouse pointer over it for a while, it will show the info. Press it and it will take you forward in the media one frame at a time.

If you can’t find the button in the advanced control interface, then you can add it using the Tools > Customize Interface feature.

To get additional details on customizing VLC interface: How to Customize VLC Media Player Interface

28 thoughts to “How to Go Frame by Frame in VLC”

  1. Does anyone from VLC ever read these requests. I am also looking for a back key. It seems that people have requested it for a long time and there has been no response. I thought this was supposed to be one of the best players, but as someone else noted I could do more with some of the older Windows products regarding forward and back stepping

  2. Yes! My company moved us from Mac to PC, and Quicktime player is slow and buggy on a PC but please, add this feature asap before people like me start looking for an alternative! I have to select frames from clips and make gifs and images from them and do you know what a pain it is to only be able to move frame by frame forward? Also please let us choose our own hot key for it so we can assign it the arrow keys. Thanks!

  3. Here another supporter for adding frame stepping backwards. Preferably controled with the cursor keys or the mouse wheel. Thanks in advance for developing this feature.

  4. If you install the Jump to time (Previous frame) v2.1 VLC extension and modify the lua script, you can use alt+b and alt+f to move back/forward one frame at a time.

    After installing, change the following two sections of script in the lua file:

    jumps = { — drop-down list
    {“1/FPS”, “vlcfps”},
    {“2 sec”, 2},
    {“20 sec”, 20},
    — {“30 sec”, 30},
    {“1 min”, “1:00”},
    {“5 min”, “5:00”},
    {“10 min”, “10:00”},
    {“1/2 sec”, 0.5},
    {“1/x”, “reciprocal”},
    {“1/23.976”, 1/23.976},
    {“1/24”, 1/24},
    {“1/25”, 1/25},
    {“1/29.97”, 1/29.97},
    {“1/30”, 1/30},
    {“1/60”, 1/60},


    function activate()

    Now when you launch a video in VLC, hit alt+i, up-arrow twice (or until you have the Jump to Time extension highlighted in the menu), enter, then you can use alt+b/alt+f to move back/forward one frame at a time.

    Someday, when I’m more familiar with VLC extensions, maybe I’ll figure out how to enable and launch the extension dialog by default, or with one simple hotkey. But until then, this at least makes the functionality possible, and easy enough to enable/use.

    1. The version 3 of the extension seems to have your trick already included in the script BUT is not working with my VLC version 3.0.3. I tried aswell to edit the version 2.1 of the extension but it didn’t work. Any idea?

  5. There certainly needs to be a backwards step (and it should be controlled by the cursor keys, so that its easy to find), its a bit silly no one has done this yet 🙁

  6. As you have heard many times, having a “step-forward” without a “step-backward” is almost useless. I had heard that VLC was the best player, but with that feature not available, it’s no better than media player classic on windows xp. it’s 2017 and you guys can’t do it, but windows has had that feature for ages. Come on!

  7. “Next frame” needs “Previous frame”.
    Any users of this will want to go backwards when they stepped too far…

    Also, please make the arrow keys control this by default. This should be easily discoverable, without needing to do a web search, or searching through hot key lists.

  8. From the comments above, many users have need of this functionality.Any guestimate of when “frame stepping backwards” might be included?

  9. Yeah i love using VLC, but its so sad that it doesnt have the frame-stepping backwards, as an animator i would like to be able so switch back and forth to analize better how a movement is made, please considered it for the next update, thank you

  10. I’m glad I found the “next frame”-key. Without a “previous frame”-key it makes only have sense, in searching keypoints, however. Please include this function soon!!

    Thanks for the VLC-Player anyway!

    Greetings from Switzerland.

  11. “It gives you full control of where you want to reach in the timeline. Unfortunately, VLC doesn’t support frame-stepping backwards; it’s only possible to move forward.”

    If it doesn’t support frame-stepping backwards, it doesn’t allow full control of where you want to reach in the timeline! Please, please include this feature. You would make so many users so very happy.

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