VLC For Android – Your Complete Guide

VLC for Android is one of the branches of the popular cross-platform media player that is available for free. The latest one branded with the version number 3.0.* was introduced in Android along with other popular platforms like Windows, Mac, and iOS. This introductory guide is here to answer the questions that you might have on installing VLC, running it and performing basic as well as some advanced functions in the Android app.

About VLC for Android

VLC For Android publicly started with a beta project and now, they have launched a full-fledged app that is supported wholly by the VideoLAN team. They claim it to be the best open source video and music player that is fast and user-friendly. This port for Android can play any video and audio stored on your phone, tablet or any other device powered by Android. Apart from local storage, it can also access network streams, network shares, and DVD ISOs.

The video player is packed with features that allow it to play every known format. You can easily play popular formats MKV, MP4, MOV, AVI, and Ogg. Even the lesser known formats are handled smoothly by the player. The audio player has everything it needs to be branded a great music player—equalizer, filters and a complete database to manage your audio files. Other dashing features that need to be mentioned are Chromecast support, playlists, the audio control widget, auto-rotation, support for audio headsets and cover art, adjustment of aspect-ratio and gestures for brightness, seeking and volume adjustments.

To top it all up, it’s not only a free app but it’s also free of any advertisement. It doesn’t even display a tiny ad. Other popular universal media players that we know show ads but this one is a megastar. Their team of passionate volunteers is there to keep it ad-free and they publish the source code out to the public. What more can we ask for?

Downloading and Installing VLC in Android

If you’re on Android, you get VLC from the Play Store. Just search the play store or click here to go there directly. Once you hit the install button, your smart device will download the necessary app files and install the app automatically. After that, you can easily access the player from the app drawer (and even the home screen). Tap on the cone icon and you are good to go.

VLC for Android - A Complete Guide

Using VLC in Android

When you launch the app, it will scan for all the media files on your phone/tablet and display it on the dashboard. You can navigate through your media files using the simple tap, hold and drag gesture; the method you use to scroll on your phone. On the top, you will see (1) Hamburger menu, (2) Search, (3) Repeat playlist, (4) Sort option [Name, length, and date] and (5) Options menu where you can refresh and find the equalizer.

Playing media files is easy. Just tap on the files displayed in the player (under video or audio). You can also directly open a media file from any other file manager. You will have the option of opening it with VLC for Android. You can set it so that those media files are always opened by VLC. There won’t be any issue with the file format and you will be able to play anything.

The Video Player Interface

Open up a video and you will access the interface. There will be several buttons on the screen and gestures will also be displayed for a short while. You can use them for easy watching and navigation.

Video Player Interface

Lock button: Lock the screen so that you can watch the video in peace. Accidentally tapping on the screen will do nothing.

Subtitles button: Choose an audio track, subtitle file or download the subtitles for it automatically.

Downloading Subtitles Automatically

If you are watching, let’s say a movie and you want the subtitles for it automatically then you can click the subtitles button on the player and hit on Download subtitles. It will do the job automatically (if there exists a subtitle for that video). The same option is also available from the dashboard when you press the three dots option button beside a video file.

Basic Media Controls: The next three buttons are for navigating previous and next tracks and the play/pause button is in the middle.

Options button: It is the one with the three dots. Various options are displayed on the screen—timer settings, playback speed, jump to time, equalizer, hide video (play only audio), subtitle delay, audio delay, player in player, and repeat modes are all in here. This is an important button in the player itself.

Resize button: The final button. It allows you to choose the dimensions of the video and how it fills up your phone screen.

Gestures

There are three gestures in total. They are performed when videos are playing.

Brightness: Touch the left side of your screen and drag your finger up and down to increase and decrease the brightness respectively.

Volume: Similar to brightness, tough and drag your finger on the right side of your screen to adjust volume.

Seek: Hold your finger on the screen and drag it left or right to seek toward that direction when any media file is playing. Forward and rewind your video on the fly.

The Audio Player Interface

The audio player interface is as simple as it gets. Open up an MP3 file and you will know how easy it is to navigate through it using the player. The basic controls of playing/pausing and previous and next tracks are right there in the bottom. Choose to repeat the entire playlist, the current playing track or disable repeating using the bottom right option.

Audio Player Interface

On the top you will find options related to searching the playlist, displaying album art and accessing additional options. Additional options button is the one with the three buttons. Tap on it and you can select the sleep timer, playback speed, jump to time, equalizer and to save the current queue as a playlist.

Hamburger Menu ☰

It’s the menu with the three lines located on the top right of the app. You might have noticed the same format in several other Android applications. Under it, you will find the following options:

  • Video: Loads up the video player and displays a list of videos on your device. Just tap on a video file and it begins to play immediately.
  • Audio: Access the audio player. You will find tabs to sort songs by artists, albums, songs, and genres. Tap on a song under artist, album or genre and it will play immediately. There are also options to append it to the end of the current playlist, add it as the next song to be played or create a new playlist with the file.
  • Directories: A handy file manager to navigate through the folders in search of media files. You can play everything inside a folder from here.
  • Local Network: Access shared folders and media under those share folders on your local network. You can hit the plus icon to access files from protocols like FTP, FTPS, SFTP, SMB, and NFS. The server address, username, folder path and port are required for access.
  • Stream: Enter an HTTP:// address to stream the file to your player directly.
  • History: The history of every file that you have played through the app. You can hit the trash icon on the top to clear your history. Selecting individual items and pressing the delete button will only delete those selected entries.
  • Settings: A whole host of options to customize your player. You can choose your media library folder from there and edit critical options like interface, video settings, subtitles, audio, and casting.
  • About: View the about page for the player and the license information as well.

Important Settings

Under the hamburger menu, the settings menu is where you can to go if you want to access options to customize your player. Let’s discuss those settings in detail.

Settings Interface

Settings > Media Library

  • Media Library folders: Under Media Library, you can check all the folders to include when VLC searches for media files. You can tap on a folder to view the subfolders. Check or uncheck folders from the list as per your desire.
  • Auto rescan: Leave this option on. It means that the player is always looking for new media files. Once they are detected, they will be added to the player.

Settings > Video

  • Background/PiP mode: Choose what happens when your player is in the background as videos are being played. You can choose to stop, play video in the background or use the advanced Picture-in-picture mode.
  • Hardware Acceleration: We let the app decide it with the automatic option. You can set it to disabled, decoding acceleration or full acceleration to let the hardware (phone or tablet) do media decoding.
  • Video screen orientation: It basically is the option to orient your screen (landscape or portrait). You can lock them, choose a single orientation or let the sensor decide with the automatic option selected.

Settings > History

Playback history: Set this option on to keep your media playing history. Uncheck to disable logging of what you played.

Settings > Extra settings > Interface

  • Enable black theme: A dark theme for low-light situations.
  • DayNight mode: Switches between dark and light theme based on the time of the day.
  • Android TV interface: Make the user interface more like Android TV.
  • Save Playback Speed: Keep the playback speed that you set, saved.
  • Set locale: Choose a locale.
  • Resume playback after a call: Pause or resume the media while in a call.
  • Prefer clone: Duplicate the device screen without remote control

Settings > Extra settings > Video

  • Group Videos: Keep the videos with the first letters same, together.
  • Show screen video marker: Identify videos if they are played until the end.
  • No grid in portrait mode: Switch between listing the videos or displaying them in a grid when the phone is held horizontally.
  • Save brightness level for video: Remember how bright the screen was when playing video.
  • Enable fast seek option: Keep it checked to be able to seek within a video file that is currently playing.
  • Audio-boost: Volume will be able to go above 100% to 200%. Might not be friendly for your speakers.
  • Video playlist mode: All the videos you have will be played sequentially.
  • Volume gesture: Enable up and down dragging to increase and decrease the volume.
  • Brightness gesture: Enable the gestures to help you dim or lighten your phone.
  • Ask confirmation to resume: Do you want to continue playing from the last location? Then check this option ON.
  • Double tap to seek: If you double tap on the screen, your video will be forwarded by 10 seconds.
  • Enable seek buttons: You will have the rewind and forward buttons on the video player.

Settings > Extra settings > Subtitles

Formatting options for subtitles and on-screen text.

  • Autoload subtitles: Search the internet for the movies’ subtitles to be loaded automatically.
  • Subtitle Size: Choose between small, normal, big and huge.
  • Subtitles Color: Choose White, Gray, Pink, Blue, Yellow or Green as your subtitle color.
  • Subtitle Background: Display a background behind your subtitle text so that they are easily legible.
  • Bold Subtitle: Make them stand out.
  • Subtitles download language: Choose the language of the closed caption that is downloaded automatically.
  • Subtitle text encoding: Choose an encoding like UTF-8.

Settings > Extra settings > Audio

  • Show all artists: Display all artists in the listing, even those which aren’t on any albums.
  • Media cover on lockscreen: Display the media art when an audio is playing on the lock screen.
  • Save repeat mode: Keep the repeat mode on.
  • Audio title alignment: Align the audio title to left, right or display it moving as a marquee.
  • Remove control shortcuts: Applicable when your headset is connected. You can double press play to go to the next track. Long press on your headset to go to the previous track.
  • Detect headset: Know when the headset is connected/disconnected.
  • Resume on headset insertion: When a headset is removed pause the file. When it is inserted back, resume the media playback.
  • Exclusive headset remote control: Only allow VLC to use the headset controls when it is open.
  • Audio output: Choose between AudioTrack and OpenSL ES.

Settings > Extra settings > Casting

  • Audio Passthrough: Give the control of audio rendering to your TV.
  • Conversion quality: Choose between lowest, low, medium and high for the quality that is cast.

Settings > Extra settings > Advanced

  • Show hidden files: Display hidden files in the inbuilt file browser.
  • Network caching value: Enter the value in milliseconds for the amount of song that is downloaded so that you don’t have to wait for it to buffer.
  • Clear media database: Go to the Android options for the player from where you can clear cache and data that the app uses.
  • Clear playback history: Remove everything from your playback history.
  • Quit and restart application: Restart VLC.
  • Time stretching audio: Allows changing the speed of the audio without changing the pitch.
  • OpenGL ES2 usage: For 360 videos. Let the app decide this one.
  • Force video chroma: Choose one with the best performance.
  • Deblocking filter settings: Advanced users can switch the deblocking options for improving video quality.
  • Enable frame skip: Frames will be skipped when decoding videos.
  • Verbose: Keep the logcat.
  • Debug logs: Useful for developers to view the logs.

Final Words

As you can see through the explanations above how powerful the player is and the options it has to give you full control. From playing files of any format to gestures to changing how the player behaves, VLC has an option for it. A normal user might not require them but it’s good to know that so many features are configurable.

For normal users, just downloading/installing the app, and using it to play every file that there is, is more than enough. We’re hoping you find this VLC guide for Android useful.

59 thoughts to “VLC For Android – Your Complete Guide”

  1. Two main issues with playlists:
    1. Is it possible to reorder the tracks in a playlist, it seems that they are ordered in the sequence they are added and can’t be moved around.
    2. VLC will often lose the contents of the playlist, or will lose all of the tracks I added except those that were added much later.

  2. In setting up Local Network folders, I can’t set a SFTP port with more than 2 digits. I run SSH at home on port 443 (in order to connect to my home from work, through my company’s firewall which is pretty locked down but has 443 open). In VLC Local Network folders, setting up SFTP with standard port 22 works and is saved with the shortcut, port 99 works, but when I enter port 443 the previewed complete server path erases the “:443”. It’s odd – as I type ’44’ the preview shows ‘sftp://user@IP:44″ but when I enter the 3rd digit ‘3’, the preview erases the ‘:443’ and reverts to simply ‘sftp://user@IP’ . This is on VLC 3.0.13 on Android 8.0 (Samsung Galaxy S7 on Verizon).

    Any thoughts?

  3. How do I get VLC to play audio when the screen is locked/off? Audio plays for 15 seconds and then shuts off. Pressing the power button immediately starts playback. Video is set to playback on the background but that doesn’t seem to have any effect on the audio.

  4. During VLC Cromecast Video PlayBack, I don’t get any “Controls” (Buttons) to e.g. “Pause/Stop/Play” etc. – the actual Movie – Only the (Big / Orange) VLC-Logo is shown on my “Galaxy S7 Edge” Phone Screen playing the movie on my TV!
    So it’s a little tricky to manage my VLC Player in this VLC CromeCast PlayBack Situation 🙁
    Therefore, what can I possibly do, to get my VLC PlayBack Control.Buttons on the phone-screen during CromeCast Video PlayBack on my TV!?
    Pls help – Thanks!

  5. I gather VLC stores playlists in an internal database. How can I backup the database?
    Where is the database stored?
    Thank you in advance for your help

      1. Why is there nothing in the ~root internal~/data/ directory except .push_deviceid and a bunch of them that are pre-made but never seen at ~~/Android/data/org.videolan.vlc/lua/playlist/ ?

  6. Can I put a playlist from VLC to be a shortcut icon on the home screen of my android phone (OS Oreo 8.1)?
    If yes..how to do it?
    Ty

  7. I use vlc on Windows daily… But on Android.. can you also save your files with the eq settings? I record the drums and use pro audio software.. but sometimes that little bit extra from vlc compressor and eq on Windows make it just right.. or.. do I have to find a screen recorder and internal audio recorder (they all disappeared??? Even my way studio used to do it. But not anymore???)

  8. i have installed VLC app on my Android Smart TV

    when ever i increase the volume the screen appears

    So, Is there a way to hide the volume increasing screen?

    Thanks

  9. The desktop version has in Tools>Preferences? Subtitles and OSD option to stop showing the video title when the video starts to play. Can you please let me know if it is available in the App version too?

      1. thanks for the feedback, but we want the title name not to show when the video is played in a loop.It can be disabled in the desktop version through Tools> Preferences> Subtitles and OSD and disable the show title at the start option.
        Is this option available on the app version?

  10. Hey, thanks for the Android port, its an excellent tool. I often use it on my Samsung tablet to Cast content off the local network. Every 30 minutes or so it loses connectivity, either to the Chromecast or the network drive, not clear which. Any idea what can be could be causing this, and what I could do about it? VLC isn’t crashing, although it obviously stops playing the content.

  11. Hi. I have a Samsung phone and I have been able to install VLC with no problem. My wife has just acquired an Huawei phone and when I tried to install VLC via Google Play I kept getting directed to what I think are “clone” versions, it won’t take me to a VideoLAN version.

    Help?

    1. Yes and it is because VLC has blacklisted Huwawei phones from installing the app. They are looking for a way around though.

  12. is it possible to loop a portion of a video on an android device, similar to the looping function on the desktop version?

  13. Hi!
    Can u tell if it is possible to click the image during stream? I need to save it in my phone’s gallery.
    Thx

  14. It seems that whenever I play a video file, the repeat mode is enabled by default. I combed through all the settings and there is no way to change this behavior in the VLC Android app. I want the app to return to list of videos after I’m done playing a video, by default, instead of having to disable repeat mode manually every time, which gets tedious after a while. Please help. Using a One plus 3T with all latest app and OS/system updates.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I had that option ticked because I like to play my playlists in a loop, but apparently it is also affecting the behavior of videos. You are right, turning it off did turn off auto repeat in videos, but this behavior of audio playlist settings affecting single video playback seems more like a design flaw than a feature. Now I’ll have to restart my playlists manually every time…Oh well…

  15. I urgently need to bookmark some of my audio tracks on Windows then listen to them on Android.
    Do you think is it possible?
    If not, would you suggest other app?

    1. If you remember the time frame of your audio, you can use the “Jump to time” feature to go to the exact minutes and seconds of your audio tracks.

      1. Thanks but no way, bookmarks can recall, can be saved, attached to a file and jump to all the moments in all files i need to.
        No one is willing to implement this simple – compared to other – yet efficient and i think most wanted code to the app?
        Is there a way to let the developers know what’s required?

  16. I listen to audio books all the time, a large book could be in 4 parts, each 12 hours long. Is there any way to set a ‘bookmark’ manually now and then, as I have occasionally pressed something, lost my place, then it is a nightmare to tap through the recording to try to locate where I was up to. Appreciate any help on this. Thanks

    1. In Android, use the “Jump to Time” feature to go to the exact time that you want to (instead of tapping through).

  17. Hi,
    I’m using the latest VLC version (3.0.10) on my Android (5.1.1) smartphone (Wiko Rainbow Jam 4G).
    Album art as lockscreen doesn’t seem to work. Almost all my albums have art attached (individually tagged to each mp3 file) and it is correctly displayed as the playlist background when my screen is not locked and I’m inside the app.
    Tried uninstalling/reinstalling the app, removed all my media files from my SD card and put them back on, didn’t change anything.

    On a side note, is there any way to save the playlist files somewhere so as not to lose them when reinstalling (or even updating) the app?

    Thanks

    1. Make sure that album art feature is enabled. Go to ☰ > Settings > Extra settings > Audio and check ☑Media cover on lockscreen option.

  18. using a galaxy S4 with S/D card, have the VLC app on the card, but can’t get app to find the music folder. settings, media library folders, have the card selected, but inside, none of the folders are selectable.

  19. How to add mp3 that is currently playing into one of my playlist in Android VLC?

    When I click 3 dots next to currently playing song, it shows menu that has options: remove, set as ringtone.
    I wish there would be 3rd option says Add to playlist.

    thanks

    1. Seems like it’s not possible from those three dots. But the one on the top that brings the on screen options, that can be used to create a new playlist. But it’ll create a playlist with all the songs in the current queue. Press the three dots on the top and hit the save icon.

  20. My version is 3.0.5, Android on Chromebook. Just got the app today. Many features you mention do not show up. The VLC app is missing lots of things. I will keep trying.

  21. Extra settings -> advanced -> clear media database should ONLY clear media database and should not take us to android app to reset the app in whole.

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