If someone gave me the choice of picking just one media player to take to a deserted island, I would most definitely plonk for VideoLan’s VLC Media Player. I really don’t know whether I would get too much of a chance to watch anything while I am marooned there, but when it comes to versatility, no other player comes close. Thank God! VLC Media Player is free. It is Open Source and cross-platform too.
That VLC pretty much plays everything that you throw at it is old news. It is also a media genie when it comes to other things apart from playing movies.
But there are still some ‘top secret’ features left to talk about. So, let’s spill the beans.
Use VLC as an Online Video Downloader for YouTube
Using a combination of VLC and your browser, you can download videos from YouTube and a few other video sites. Copy the URL of the video you want to download. For instance, in YouTube it could be like this:
1. Click on Media – Open Network stream. Paste the URL and click the Play button in the player.
2. VLC Media Player starts streaming the video. Now, click Tools – Codec Information and at the bottom of the window you will see a Location box. Copy the long URL in the box and paste it on your browser’s address bar. The browser will now start playing the video file. You can download the video file to your desktop by doing a Save As…. Or you can choose to record the video.
I tried this out with YouTube. Let us know in the comments about other services too.
Don’t Forget…VLC Can Play Audio Too!
We normally associate VLC with video, but VLC is a complete media player and that includes full music-playing features with playlist support. VLC not only displays cover art, but also has a pretty good graphic equalizer tucked away inside it.
You can bring it up with a CTRL+E. Pitch your song just right with the available presets, or finetune it with the 11 frequency bands.
The latest VLC also gives you Dynamic Range Compression that subdues loud sounds or amplifies quiet sounds by compressing an audio signal’s dynamic range. That’s just the thing if you are living in an apartment with thin walls.
Then there’s Audio Normalization
Just in case you don’t jump out of your skin, VLC has the normalization feature tucked deep inside Audio preferences (Tools – Preferences – Audio). It’s a feature to keep in mind when you are playing audio and video files; a sudden increase in the volume could jar your ears. In case of video, you have to restart the video for it to take effect.
Record Directly From Webcam
You can record your video chat session easily using VLC.
1. Go to Media – Open Capture Device.
2. On the Capture Device screen, you can select the video device and also the audio device like the system microphone.
3. You can also configure the options from the Configure settings. Finetune your capture withBrightness, Contrast, Hue, Saturation (and other) controls.
4. Head down and drop down the Play button to open the Convert dialog where you can select the Destination file, click on the Browse button to select video file location, name and format.
Scrobble Tracks to Last.fm
Last.fm added support to VLC and that helps because you can enhance your recommendations by scrobbling from your desktop music collection to Last.fm using the VideoLan media player. Scrobbling tracks to Last.fm with what you listen to on your desktop is a simple three-step process –
1. From Tools – Preferences click the Show Settings radio button to All.
2. Drop down to Interfaces. Expand the branch to Control Interfaces – check Submission of played song to Last.fm.
3. Expand Control Interfaces and click on Audioscrobbler. Enter your login details on this screen, hit save and restart VLC.
Mouse Gesture Interactions with VLC
Productivity mavens like their mouse gestures, and VLC media player obliges with basic mouse gesture support. To activate this feature, go to View – Add Interface – Mouse Gestures. You may need to restart VLC for the changes to take effect. The list of supported gestures and settings options can be on this page of the VideoLAN wiki.
Automatically Quit VLC When Playback Is Over (And Shut down The Computer)
Queue your songs in a playlist (Kenny G’s saxophone perhaps), switch off the lights, and drift off to sleep. Oh wait! Did you forget to switch off the VLC player and shut down the computer? Stay in bed because a little line of code can do it for you.
You can quit VLC media player after playback is finished, by adding
to the playlist. Alternatively, from Media select Quit at the end of playlist.
Shutting down the computer is a bit more elaborate with a batch file.
Create a new file with extension .BAT [use notepad] and paste in the contents from below:
START /WAIT C:\"Program Files"\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe %1 vlc://quit
shutdown -s -t 60
Drag your saved playlist icon on top of the .bat file. The batch file will launch VLC and load the playlist. It will wait for the playlist to finish playing and then the batch file shut down the PC in 60 sec.’s.
I end here with seven useful features of the ever-popular VLC media player. There are lots more of course. If you know about these seven features then they aren’t ‘top secret’ at all, but if you didn’t then try them out. Which feature of the VLC media player deserves to get mentioned? Do you know of a VLC feature that you think not many are aware of? Reveal it in the comments. We are all ears for secrets to be spilled.