Although many people are migrating to online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer to enjoy their favorite TV series, movies, and cartoons, a multimedia player remains an indispensable tool for Windows computers.
Even if you don’t normally watch media content using CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs on your desktop or laptop, you will need a good media player for tasks, sooner or later. And when that happens, we recommend using VLC Media Player.
VLC Media Player doesn’t really need an introduction since it’s so popular. It’s a free and open-source multimedia player that can be installed on multiple platforms, like Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Apple TV.
With its help, you can play media content from a wide range of sources, such as files, discs, external drives, network locations, webcams, and network streams. You don’t have to separately install codec packs to enjoy your favorite videos since VLC has everything included by default.
- Play audio and video without separately installing codecs
- Stream and download YouTube clips
- Free to use
- Prone to some occasional errors
VLC’s multimedia framework is based on a modular design, which means that any new functionality can be implemented through extra components or plugins. Currently, there are over 380 such modules built into the application.
And, since the project is open-source, the user community is free to pitch in, design their own modules, and share it with the rest of the world.
Before getting our final verdict for VLC, check out its system requirements, installation, interface, and features.
VLC Media Player system requirements
VLC is a lightweight media player with no special hardware requirements. It works with these Windows versions:
- Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7 (both 32-bit and 64-bit)
Separate 32-bit and 64-bit setup files are available for download, depending on your OS architecture type.
VLC Media Player installation
VLC has a setup and portable edition to satisfy the preferences of all users. In setup mode, you can select the installer language, review the license agreement, and exclude any program components.
Full installation includes Mozilla and ActiveX web plugins, disc playback support, file type associations for audio, video and other files, context menu integration, and desktop shortcuts. You can also modify the default install path and ask VLC to auto-delete leftover preferences and cache from previous installations.
On the other hand, the portable edition of VLC Media Player can be unpacked anywhere on the computer or on an external storage device, like a USB flash drive. This way, you can quickly start the media player on any PC you plug the pen drive into, without setup and without admin rights.
VLC Media Player interface
Considering the plethora of options and configuration settings provided by VLC Media Player, its graphical interface is simple and neatly organized. It can be fully customized when it comes to the main and time toolbar, fullscreen controller, and advanced widget.
The media navigation controls are on the bottom, while everything else can be found in the top menus and right-click menu. On the top side, the options are sorted in Media, Playback, Audio, Video, Subtitle, Tools, and View menus. The same ones can be accessed from the right-click menu, too.
Resourceful media player with few flaws
All aspects considered it’s easy to see why many people think VLC is the best media player, not only for Windows but also for other platforms. It’s incredibly resourceful and, thanks to its modular design, its functionality can be seamlessly enhanced with plugins.
VLC uses minimal system resources, making it a great media player even for slower computers. Casual users can simply launch VLC to play media files while the more experienced ones can tinker with its advanced settings.
Nevertheless, VLC Media Player is prone to software errors like most software products, as well as lagging on Windows. Thankfully, most of its issues have a quick fix. You should also check out the VLC app for Microsoft Store.
VLC Media Player FAQ
Is VLC safe to install?
VLC Media Player is a legitimate piece of software that facilitates all the tools necessary for playing media content. Although it has triggered some malware alerts, it doesn’t contain any malware, making it perfectly safe for download and installation. However, you should always download VLC from the developer’s site to remain on the safe side.
Why is VLC so good?
VLC has been around for many years and rightfully earned a huge fan-base. It can play all types of media, comes with its own codecs, and supports plugins. More importantly, its makers are committed to the free and open-source model. VLC is operated by a non-profit organization that doesn’t even bundle adware in its setup file or interface.
What is the best free media player?
We think that VLC Media Player is the best free media player for your Windows PC. However, if you want to look into alternative solutions, we suggest checking out Kodi, KMPlayer, Media Player Classic, GOM Player, and MediaMonkey.
Overview of VLC Media Player features
- Extensive file type support for audio, video and subtitle formats
- Play DVD media as well as CD and Blu-ray discs
- Capture media various devices via DirectShow, digital TV, or desktop mode
- Explore a library of audio and video effects
- Synchronize audio to video or subtitle to video
- Adjust the subtitle speed and change the subtitle duration factor
- View and edit media information, such as metadata, codec, statistics, and ID3 tag
- Load YouTube, BBC iPlayer, SoundCloud, Twitch and other streams
- Create, manage, and save playlists to file
- Create and organize bookmarks
- Enable visualizations and take snapshots
- Change the aspect ratio, crop videos, and switch on deinterlace mode
- Convert and save media files to other formats
- Control all important functions using keyboard shortcuts
- Extend VLC’s functionality by exploring a library of plugins
- More plugins can be downloaded and installed from online sources
- Software Version
- Free / open-source
- video player, audio player