How to Zoom into Videos in VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player offers different mechanisms to zoom into a video. We can use interactive zoom to magnify a portion of the media. There are also options to use zoom, crop, and aspect ratio to change the size of the on-screen media. We can also find options to scale any video in the advanced preferences section of VLC. Finally, we can use your OS’s accessibility feature like magnifier to enlarge what is on the screen. Zooming videos will allow us to see the tiny details that we might miss. We can also magnify a section of interest to better see it. There is also a possibility to change the window size to give it a desired zoom ratio. All these will enhance your video playback experience. Now, let us look at the various ways we can zoom videos in VLC Media Player.

Interactive Zoom

Interactive Zoom is by far the easiest and the most useful zoom feature we found in VLC. It is also very popular with the users. It is mostly used to see a section of a video. One can easily drag the zoomed portion. It will enlarge different part of the playing video interactively.

Interactive Zoom Effect

Here is how you can access and use Interactive Zoom in VLC Media Player-

  • Go to Tools > Effects and Filters [Hotkey- CTRL + E].
  • Click on The Video Effects tab.
  • Navigate to the Geometry tab under it.
  • Check the ☑ Interactive Zoom checkbox.
  • Hit Save and Close.

Interactive Zoom

The interactive zoom feature is now activated. You will see a small picture-in-picture like video on the top-left section of your media window. There will be a rectangle on it that denotes the area that is magnified. Use the mouse to click and drag the rectangle. Moving the rectangle around will change the area that is being zoomed. You can do this when the video is being paused or played. It is quite helpful to enable us to see something in greater detail.

Zoom Through Video Menu or Hotkey Z

Some users will find the Zoom option under the Video menu useful. It might not seem to do anything if the video is open in full screen or in the maximized window mode. But if the video is in the Window mode, it will have an effect.

To use the zoom feature that comes with VLC, do the following-

  • Open a video in windowed mode (it should not cover the entire screen area).
  • Navigate to Video > Zoom > (1:4 Quarter, 1:2 Half, 1:1 Original, 2:1 Double). [Hotkey- Z or Shift Z to cycle these options].
  • The window size changes to quarter, half, double or original of the video resolution.

Not everyone will use the window size altering zoom feature. It can be useful if you want to see how your video looks in different resolutions. It is also a feature to stack VLC’s window on the screen real estate. Zooming this way for a 1080p video to 1:2 half will change it’s size to half of the resolution i.e. 1080/2 = 640px width and 1920/2 = 960px height. The area it takes up on screen will depend on your monitor’s resolution.

The best way to cycle through the video menu is to use the hotkey Z and Shift-Z. You can quickly switch through different zoom resolutions this way. Also, using other related hotkeys for Aspect ratio (A) and Crop (C) might suit your requirement.

Advanced Preferences

There is also an Advanced Preference to set the default zoom. We found it that it doesn’t have effect on the currently playing video. It does however impact the visualizations.

To access the Zoom option hidden in Advanced Preferences, follow these steps-

  • Go to Tools > Preferences [CTRL + P].
  • Under Show settings (bottom-left), choose All.
  • Navigate to Video in Advanced Preferences.
  • Scroll down (on the right side) to the Zoom video option.
  • Set the zoom factor like 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2 and 5.
  • Hit Save.

Video Zoom through Advanced Preferences

Using Magnifier in Windows

If you are in a Windows device, then the accessibility tools might come into handy. There is a tool called Magnifier. What it does is magnify everything on the screen. So, if your video is on the screen, it will make it appear bigger. The magnified area will follow your mouse pointer by default.

Windows Magnifier

To use the accessibility tool called Magnifier in Windows-

  • Click on Start.
  • Search for Magnifier.
  • Click and open it.
  • It will overlay on top of your current window.
  • Hit the Plus (+) button to Magnify and Minus (-) to Unzoom.

Keyboard shortcut to Zoom- Windows key and +
Keyboard shortcut to Zoom Out- Windows key and –

You can zoom from 100% to 200% to 300% …. to 1600%. It will increase/decrease the zoom percentage by 100% for every + or – button pressed. It might get overly zoomed and confusing if you zoom it too much like say 1600%.

19 thoughts to “How to Zoom into Videos in VLC Media Player”

  1. If you have to rotate the video and then use interactive zoom, it’s a disaster. You have to search for the invisible overlay and guess where it is based on how many degrees you rotated the video.

  2. Quir saying VLC’s zoom function is even a function. It’s been crap for as long as VLC has existed. VLC has NEVER been able to properly zoom a video. The options are surprisingly lacking in Windows 10 software. I shouldn’t have to install an Android emulator and an apk in order to properly zoom a video. This is ridiculous.

  3. Every video starts zoomed way in. Is there a way to have it start at 0% and I can zoom in when/if I want?

    1. I’m not too sure about the interactive zoom rectangle not letting you drag it around. May be you can just try clicking on different spots instead of dragging it?

      1. The visual overlay for the zoom is in the upper right as I expect it is supposed to be, however the actual control window is translated near the upper left corner and I believe rotated 90 degrees. So invisible and guesswork to use.

  4. I would never imagine that zoom was such an advanced topic. VLC needs to (re-)think its interface… 🙁

  5. Zoom should work like Windows image viewer:

    – mouse scroll up: zooms the video
    – hold mouse left click to drag the video anywhere

  6. Making the window bigger is not the desired effect. Zoom the content displayed in the window leave the size of the window unchanged.

  7. Usually I only want to zoom to 125% or so, but interactive zoom is intended for at least 3-400%. The tiny little tool is very annoying, and needs to be re-scaled. Great idea, just needs to be updated from feeling like a 2005 tech

  8. VLC can’t even manage to zoom correctly? GIve me a hotkey to toggle interactive zoom on and off at least1 How could stuff like this be UX oversights never fixed? VLC infuriates me with its limitations.

  9. How is there no hotkey to toggle on/off for interactive zoom? MPC’s pan and scan hotkeys are so superior. VLC can’t even manage basic zoom capability without weird compromises required to do it. Infuriating.

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