Top 10 Cool Tricks and Features of VLC for Android

Supporting more platforms than one can count, VLC must be the top media player used by any person on this planet. Everyone seems to recognize the cone icon and how it represents supporting any media file-type that we’ve heard of. With builds for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and other mobile devices, VLC is universally present. It has over 100 million downloads in Android’s Play Store and a rating of 4.4/5 stars given by more than a million users in Android alone. This top-notch app doesn’t have any ads or a premium (paid) version. Get VLC in your Android device for free and use it for as long as you like. Even though it doesn’t require any payment, the features are world-class. There are so many in-built tricks in VLC for Android. The features and tricks can enhance our video and media playing experience with the app.

Anyone can download the app for free at the Play Store for Android. While the list of features is long, we have chosen the top 10 awesome VLC for Android tips and tricks for this post. They are the features that are useful for the average user.

1. On-Screen Gestures to Enhance the Playback Experience

It is the first feature that everyone gets introduced to. On-screen Gestures. When we load up the app for the first time, it is shown on the screen. Tapping, holding and dragging on your display produces different results. Drag your finger on the left of the screen, up and down, and it will change the brightness of the video. Do it on the right side, and it will increase and decrease the volume. Another one is to press near the middle part of the screen and take your fingers left to right. This will seek and take us to different positions of the video.

Brighness, Seek and Volume Gestures

Please note that the gestures are applicable for video files only. It won’t work for musical audio files like MP3. You can enable or disable the on-screen gestures by going to ☰ Menu > Settings > Extra Settings – Video > Volume Gesture, Brightness Gesture and Double Tap to seek. Oh, and that means that you can double tap as well to seek. Double tap on the right to go +10 seconds and on the left it is -10 seconds.

2. Playing Online Video Streams (YouTube, Daily Motion)

Who watches more videos on the internet than from their local devices? Almost everyone! We are busy with YouTube, Dailymotion and what not. The video streaming services are taking over. But the players that they have might not match our needs. That’s where VLC enters the scene.

Stream URL in VLC Android

Play online clips in the app itself. It just needs a Media Resource Locator (MRL). If you don’t know what it is, do not worry about it. It’s just the link to the video on sites like YouTube and Daily Motion. Links like https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x74z4db?playlist=x6bsr7, https://www.yoursite.com/song.mp3, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BEATsAvouU. Just grab it and copy it to your clipboard. Then on the app go to ☰ Menu > Open MRL. Paste your link there and hit Go. The app will load the internet clip. Use any gestures or feature of the app like subtitles, audio delays and playback speed on the streaming media. That’s something the official apps can’t do natively.

3. Adding, Syncing and Formatting Subtitles and Audio Delay

One amazing feature of VLC for Android is that it can add subtitles for recognized movies automatically. Yes, it has the local subtitles feature. But the auto adds feature is the one that everyone should get excited about. No more searching the internet for the correct subtitles. The app will do it for you and load it up automatically. The on-screen media control as displayed in the screenshot below will perform the magic. Select your subtitle or Download one.

Subtitle Options in VLC for Android

Alternate audio track, if it exists, can also be selected from the same option group. The option to synchronize audio is available in the same option group. Hit the Audio Delay option for it and the plus and minus buttons, as usual, will fix the audio delay.

Subtitles can also be formatted. You can choose their size, color, and background. Go to ☰ Menu > Settings > Extra settings – Subtitles. There you can choose the subtitle size—small, normal, big and huge. Subtitle color can be chosen between white, gray, pink, blue, yellow and green. You can also choose to activate/deactivate a subtitle background for legibility. It can also be set to bold. Other options available on the same page are related to autoloading subtitles, subtitle download language, and subtitle text encoding.

Now, comes the part about synchronizing subtitles. A subtitle file might not always work with your video. You might have to sync it so that it matches the dialogues. For the syncing options, tap on the Options … button from the on-screen interface. Tap on the sixth option as shown on the screenshot.

Subtitle Delay Button

After that, hit the Plus (+) or Minus (-) button to delay the subtitle by +50 or -50 milliseconds at a time. Tap on those buttons repeatedly until the voice matches the on-screen text.

4. Controlling Playback Speed for Video and Audio

Another great tip for people using the Android app to listen to video or audio is to alter the speed of the media. It is a fun trick to skim through university lectures. With Playback Speed controls one can easily play between 0.25x to 4x speeds. That means you can play any media file 4 times slower or faster. Access digital media at a slow speed if you cannot understand it. Jump to higher speeds like 2x or 4x to save some time. There is so much control in this option that you can play specific speeds like 1.62x or 0.48x.

To access the playback speed option, click on Options … on the screen interface. It is only available when any video or audio is open. After tapping on options, click on the little human running icon as shown in the screenshot below.

Playback Speed in VLC

To keep the playback speed as the default one, navigate to Menu > Settings > Extra Settings – Interface > Save Playback Speed. The checkbox will denote whether the speed setting is saved or not.

5. Artist, Album, and Custom Playlists with Sleep Timer

VLC clearly distinguishes between audio and video player interfaces. There are two interfaces for each one of them. The video player will only list videos whereas the audio player will only list your MP3s. It is very simple to switch between the interface. Just going to Menu and choosing between Video and Audio will do the trick. Switching between video and audio player interface is available within the same app.

Anyways, when you go to the audio player interface, the songs are listed in different tabs—artists, albums and songs. If your MP3 files are tagged properly with the ID3 tags, then songs will automatically be categorized. VLC for Desktop can help you view and edit the ID3 tags easily. When they have proper tags, the lists in the artists, albums and genres tabs will be automatically populated and grouped. The songs tab will just display all the music files that you have, alphabetically.

There is another way to group songs and that is by using Playlists. It can help us group songs according to our preference. That means, songs with different artists, albums and genres can be put into a single list. Think of it as your favorite playlist with the best songs for the right mood. To access it, just go to ☰ > Playlists.

Menu - Playlists

To create a playlist or add songs to one, tap on the three vertical dots ⋮ against any song listed in tabs like artists and album. Then choose the Add to playlist option. You can either create a new list or add it to an existing playlist.

Playlist Feature in VLC for Android

When playlists are accessed, the songs are played sequentially. The feature of sorting them is not available. Your playlist can loop on forever or stop at the end. We can also set a sleep timer to stop the playlist after a certain time has passed. For the sleep timer, go to More Options ⋮ and tap on the sleep timer icon.

Sleep Timer in VLC

You can define the exact hours, minutes and seconds for the timer. After the time has passed, the playlist will stop playing.

6. Widgets to Add a Mini Player to Your Home Screen

If you are big on Android widgets, then know that there’s a couple of those for the VLC app as well. The widgets can be placed on our home screen to allow us to access quick features of VLC Media Player for Android. It will certainly save some time. There might be a minor difference in how widgets are added to the home screen. But it is usually a long press in one of the empty areas of the screen. Then tapping on Add Widgets will show all the possible widgets, alphabetically. Scroll to ‘V’ and you will see two VLC widgets—VLC Dark Widget and VLC White Widget.

VLC Mini Player Widget

Depending on your preference, choose any one of them. The only difference between these two is cosmetics. Otherwise, both have the same functionality.

Once the widget is placed on an empty area of the home screen, you can do these things—launch the whole player by tapping on the icon, play a song immediately or stop it, switch between different tracks (forward and backward) of the current playlist. The main benefit of this feature is to give you access to your songs quickly. Just hit play and a song will begin instantly.

6. Pop-Up Player and Background Mode to Always Be in Play

One of the exciting things about VLC is the ability to navigate to other apps while the media is still playing. This works well if the media is an audio file. You can check your Facebook while the VLC app plays your favorite playlist in the background. But what if it is a video and you want to continue to watch it? One way is to use the Pop-Up Player trick. When the Background or popup mode is activated, you have three options—Stop, Play videos in background and Play videos in Picture-in-Picture mode. The first option is obvious to everyone. The second one is for those who just want the audio to continue playing. The third one allows video to move to the side in a smaller window and it continues there.

There are two ways to activate the so-called PiP mode. One is to use the more options … button from the video player interface. There should be a currently playing media on the screen for this option to appear.

Pop Up Player in VLC for Android

When you tap on it, the video will immediately move to the bottom right. You can tap and drag on the smaller video to any location. Press the home button and full Android app interface will no longer take over your screen. Only the small video display will exist. Open any other app and it will stay there over other apps. To get rid of it, push it to the bottom of the display and it will disappear.

There’s also an option using which you can specify the default action when you navigate away from the VLC app. Click on Menu > Settings > Video – Background/PiP Mode. Choose the third option from this screen (Play videos in Picture-in-picture mode. Now, all the videos will shift to PiP or Background mode when you navigate away from the app.

7. Resuming playback after receiving a call, connecting a headset or exiting

It is a known fact that people are using VLC for Android on their phones. Phones are meant to receive calls. Phone calls have audio. It will certainly interfere with your music playback. Your music will stop when your phone is ringing. It won’t play when you are on a call. But what happens after you disconnect the call? Do you want the music to continue? Well, most of us do. We even avoid phone calls when our favorite song is on. The options to disable it is in ☰ Menu > Settings > Extra Settings – Interface > Resume playback after a call. Make sure that it is checked.

Also, a headset is essential for musical playback. The headset options give you control to automatically play songs when it is inserted. It also gives us the ability to pause your music when it is connected. The remote-control features to control the volume and switch between songs are also present. To access these options, go to ☰ Menu > Settings > Interface – Audio > Headset.

Headset Playback Controls

There are four options that we can activate or deactivate.

  1. Remote control shortcuts – Double press on the play button to go to the next track or long press it to go to the previous track.
  2. Detect headset – Allow the app to know when a headset is inserted or removed.
  3. Resume on headset insertion – Continue the audio when a headset is connected.
  4. Exclusive headset remote control – Give the utmost priority to VLC app when it comes to reacting to the headset button presses and actions.

Another similar action can be found at Menu > Settings > Extra settings – Video > Controls – Ask confirmation to resume. This option, if activated, will continue your media from the previous position. It is useful for continuing movies and long audiobooks from the same point.

8. Choosing Folders to Automatically Browse for Media Files

VLC will automatically choose the folders where your media files are located. You can customize the selection that it has done it for you. Go to Menu > Settings and it will be the first option there. Media library folders. Under it, you browse your Internal and External memory and all the folders and sub-folders under it. We can check or uncheck any folder, according to our preference. Unchecking a specific folder avoids media from that location from being discovered.

Browse, Choose and Scan Media in VLC

Similarly, the Auto rescan checkbox should be activated. It is available in the root option location of Menu > Settings. If unchecked, new media will not be discovered.

Another browsing option to open media is available under Menu. Choose the Directories or Local Network submenu to browse and open video or audio files. You can access your local storage from there. Your local storage can also be scoured to open shared media.

9. A Black Theme for Dark Nights or for Power Saving

Android will have a black theme in the coming updates. But some apps have already introduced it. If you expected VLC to have it, then you are right. A dark theme can always be activated, or it can be activated according to the time of the day. That means, at night, VLC will have a darker interface. During the day, it will have the normal theme.

Navigate to Menu > Settings > Extra setting – Interface > DayNight mode. There will be 4 options under it.

Day and Night Mode in VLC

Follow system mode is for newer Android version where there is an inbuilt system-wide DayNight or dark mode. The second one, DayNight mode will let VLC opt-in for a light orange mode during the mornings and day time whereas a dark mode will be used at night. The final options, Light theme, and Black theme will enable the theme that is chosen.

10. Chromecast – Displaying the Remote-Control vs Cloning the device screen

When casting from your app to a big screen, the video will show on the television whereas your phone will have the media controls only. This is better than having the video play at two different screens at the same time. Use your phone as a remote and the big screen as the monitor.

Display Remote Control vs Clone

This option is available under Menu > Settings > Extra setting – Interface > Prefer clone. It is unchecked by default. You can check it to have your video also play on the smart device.

8 thoughts to “Top 10 Cool Tricks and Features of VLC for Android”

  1. I have been using VLC for android since I got my first android phone almost ten years ago. I love the platform, but I have a question about it. When using apps like netflix, the app will remember what episode I left off on and will pick up where I left off, regardless of how long the app has been closed. Is there a way to make a playlist in VLC of TV episodes and have this same functionality? I am so often left trying to remember the episode number where I left off so I can go back resume at the right spot, but it would be so convenient if this was possible automatically. Thanks for the great app. It really plays anything I throw at it!

  2. How can I play files from Video_TS folders on my Android phone? I can find the directories, but VLC says they’re empty.

    1. What files are inside those directories? What are their extensions? Try going to Menu > Settings > Interface and activate, Show all files in browser. It should show every files inside a browser even though they are not supported.

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