At some point, everyone runs into a problem opening a multimedia file (usually a video) . VLC player can solve most of these problems. It has a simple interface that’s very user friendly, but also enough extra features to keep you happy if you’re an advanced user. You can drag and drop music or videos into the player, use the file menu to open them, or click on them in Windows explorer once you have selected VLC as your default player for that file type.
Multimedia files are coded a certain way when they are created, and your multimedia software decodes them. This is done using software called a CODEC, which stands for CODE/DECODE. Widows comes with some codecs by default for the file types most used by windows. As you install other multimedia software, like CD and DVD burning software, Itunes, or other media players, you pick up new codecs and expand the file types your computer knows how to open and play.
There are all-in-one codec packs out there on the internet that try to provide all the codecs you will ever need for every possible file type, but they often come bundled with toolbars and other unwanted software. You don’t want that junk cluttering up your computer.
VLC includes support for subtitle files if your video includes them. Even if you’re not going to watch something in a different language the subtitles can be useful. I’ve used them when my infant son was asleep and I couldn’t have the sound at my normally preferred earth shattering volume. They can also be used to decipher the dialogue in scenes that are just plain hard to hear.
One of my favorite features is the equalizer, under the extended settings button. There are separate controls for both audio and video tweaking. I use this for brightening up older videos or home videos that are not the highest digital quality, but there are dozens of options starting with the basic brightness, contrast, saturation, hue and gamma controls. But it was also let you make the image negative, turn it sepia, rotate it, and even add a logo or watermark to it. Not bad for a free program!
The above image is before using the equalizer on the video. You can see the difference below after a few minor tweaks to brightness, contrast, gamma and saturation.
In the event that your audio and video are not matching up, there’s a submenu here for synching them together.
And VLC player give you the option to take a screenshot of any part of your video. Just go to the video menu and look all the way at the bottom.
You can set the default save location, file type and naming scheme for your snapshots under the Tools -> Preferences -> Video menu, shown highlighted here.
There are literally hundreds of other features to explore if you are into that sort of thing. Or maybe you want to simply watch a movie and not have to do anything but click and drag. Either way, VLC player is the best free media player to suit your needs.