How to Navigate Video/Audio Precisely in VLC Media Player?

While watching movies and playing audio using VLC, the navigation bar is an important tool. It helps us to navigate the media that is currently playing. We can click on a spot in the lengthy navigation slider and boom, we go are closer to the scene that we’re looking for. But this process can be done with more accuracy. We can use the left and right arrows and hotkeys available in VLC Media Player for elegant navigation. In this way, we can efficiently get to the exact spot in a lengthy movie.

Using Hotkeys

We have found that using hotkeys (or shortcuts) is the best and the most effective way in navigating long video or audio files. Suppose, you are watching a movie or listening to a podcast while writing down notes. If something is missed and needs to be re-played, it is not always convenient to pause and go back using the interface’s navigation slider. Well, hotkeys to the rescue.

The simplest way is to press the left and right arrow keys. The left key will take us 10 seconds behind. The right key will take us 10 seconds forward. Pressing them more than once will do the trick. But we are not limited to 10-second jumps. We can actually do very short(3 seconds), short(10 seconds), medium(60 seconds), and long jumps(300 seconds). The length of these jumps can also be defined.

To specify jump sizes in VLC’s interface, follow these steps:

  • Go to Tools > Preferences
  • Click All under Show settings to go to Advanced Preferences.
  • Navigate to Interface > Hotkeys settings
  • Specify the respective jump sizes in seconds
  • Hit Save.

Jump Hotkey Settings in VLC

These are the jump lengths by default-

  • Very short jump length: 3 seconds
  • Short jump length: 10 seconds
  • Medium jump length: 60 seconds
  • Long jump length: 300 seconds

The default Windows hotkeys for the four jumps forward and backward are-

  • Very short backward jump: Shift + Left
  • Very short forward jump: Shift + Right
  • Short backward jump: Alt + Left
  • Short forward jump: Alt + Right
  • Medium backward jump: Ctrl + Left
  • Medium forward jump: Ctrl + Right
  • Long backward jump: Ctrl + Alt + Left
  • Long forward jump: Ctrl + Alt + Right

Jump to Specific Time

There are also additional features like the Jump to Specific Time [CTRL + T] (accessible from Playback > Jump to Specific Time) in VLC for Windows. If we know the exact timeframe of the scene that we want to jump to, we can punch in the hours, minutes and seconds and hit go.

Jump to Specific Time

Hit Go and it will take us to the exact spot in the media file.

Fine Tuning and Reaching the Exact Frame with Frame Forward

When we are paused in a scene and we know that the exact frame of the video is a few frames ahead, we can use the frame forward option. Just hit the E shortcut key. It will take us ahead one frame at a time. The movie has to be paused otherwise it will be paused after pressing the hotkey. Another way to access the frame forward feature is from the advanced controls.

Next Frame Button

The advanced controls are brought up by going to View > Advanced Controls. With the frame stepping button, we can do a frame by frame navigation in VLC. But sadly, there is no frame backward button. So, while we can easily navigate ahead one frame at a time, we cannot go back to the previous frame. It is a highly demanded feature but it unavailable in VLC.

Custom Bookmarks

We might not remember the exact scene every time. To solve the problem, there is the Custom Bookmarks feature. When a media file is open, go to Playback > Custom Bookmarks > Manage [CTRL + B].

Using Custom Bookmars

Ensure that the media pointer is at the correct time. Hitting Create will remember the time in the bookmark. Multiple bookmarks can be set for a single file. Once, it is all set up, close the dialog. The next time Playback > Custom Bookmarks is accessed, the saved bookmarks will be there. Click on them and the video position will be navigated automatically to the previously saved position. But sadly, the bookmarks are lost once the media is closed or when the player is crossed off. It should be thought of as a temporary feature for a single playback session.

Loop from point A to B Continuously

Suppose, we want to watch a certain scene of a movie repeatedly. Let’s say the scene is from 10:00 to 12:22. We can loop between these two points continuously with VLC Media Player.

A to B Looping in VLC

The feature is accessible from the advanced controls (View > Advanced Controls). We need two points to loop through continuously. Make sure the movie’s pointer is at the right spot. Define the first point or “A” as you click the A-to-B loop button for the first time. After you reach the second point, define “B” by clicking the A-to-B button again. Now hit the same button again. The movie (or audio) will repeat from the defined points A to B position repeatedly. It is an interesting way to watch the desired scene repeatedly in VLC Media Player.

Advanced Tutorial: Playing Multiple Parts/Sections of a Video (or Audio)

With this special hack, we can play only the desired parts or sections of a video in VLC Media Player. It will allow us to skip the undesired sections. It is like the A to B loop that we discussed before but we have multiple parts that we go through. So, we have to figure out the exact timestamps for the start and end times of the video portions.

Skipping and Playing Media Portions in VLC

The output of skipping and playing certain portions of a media can be understood with the above screenshot. Here we are playing three sections. We need to figure out their timestamps in seconds The timestamps for 12:20 would be (12*60+20) = 740. For 13:30, it would be (13*60+30)=810. The rest of the timestamps are 1568 to 1702, and 2716 to 2810.

Now, we open up notepad or something similar. Note down the full name of the video file like video.mp4. Then, we input the following code


The time points in your video file can be different. The code can be modified as per the requirement. Save the file as play.m3u. Or something else as long as it has a .m3u extension. It will be saved as a playlist file and VLC will recognize the M3U playlist file.

Note that the start-time and stop-time values have been changed as per our previous calculations. The video.mp4 line should be changed to the file name like movie-name.mp4.

Now, put the play.m3u file in the same folder as the video file. Open the play.m3u file using VLC. It will do the trick and play multiple portions of the video in one go. You can enjoy your favorite scenes exclusively from a long movie using this trick.

We hope that the different tips and tricks presented in this post helped you out in one way or another. We have shown you multiple ways to enjoy a good playback session through VLC Media Player. Please let us know about anything related in the comments. Happy playing.

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