How to Set VLC as Your Go-To Media Player

As someone who has used VLC media player for over 5 years, I highly recommend it as an all-in-one media solution. VLC plays just about any audio or video format you can throw at it, handles playlists with ease, streams media over networks, and much more. Once you make VLC your default player, media files will open seamlessly without you having to think about compatibility.

Why Choose VLC as Your Default Media Player

There are several great reasons to make VLC your go-to choice:

  • Cross-platform – VLC works great on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and more. Media files will play the same regardless of what device you use.
  • Open source – VLC is completely free and open source software. There are no ads, tracking, or hidden agendas.
  • Plays anything – Due to VLC’s robust codec and format support, you can play virtually any media file right out of the box. No need to hunt down codec packs.
  • Customizable – VLC has a huge array of preferences and options for tweaking performance and behavior to your liking. It can look and feel however you want.
  • Extensible – Plugins and extensions allow you to add even more functionality to VLC like Chromecast streaming, visualizations, subtitle management, and much more.
  • Lightweight – Even with all its features and format support, VLC maintains a small install footprint and lower memory usage compared to other feature-packed players.

From personal media libraries to streaming web content, VLC stands above the rest in terms of format compatibility, performance, features, and customizability. Let’s look at how to make it your default player.

How to Set VLC as Default Player on Windows

Setting VLC as the default media handler on Windows takes just a few easy steps:

  1. Install VLC media player if you haven’t already. Make sure to get the latest version.
  2. Right-click any media file such as a MP4, AVI, MP3 and choose Open with. Open with menu in Windows
  3. From the menu, click Choose another app.
  4. Check the Always use this app to open .ext files checkbox at the bottom.
  5. Select VLC from the list and click OK. Select VLC and make default

And that’s it! Now all media files will use VLC by default. You can repeat this process for other media extensions if you want.

To make things even more convenient, you can right-click media files and choose Open with VLC which automatically sets it as the default without going through the extra steps.

Set File Type Associations

For greater control, you can manage default programs for all file type associations in Windows 10/11 by going to Settings > Apps > Default Apps. Scroll down to File Explorer and choose VLC for relevant media extensions like MP4, MOV, AVI and MP3.

Make VLC the Default Media Player on Mac

The process is very similar on Mac:

  1. Download and install VLC for Mac if you don’t have it.
  2. Right-click any media file and select Get Info. Media file Get Info on Mac
  3. Expand the Open with section.
  4. Choose VLC from the app list. If VLC isn’t shown, click the All Applications button and navigate to VLC.
  5. Check the Change all… button to make VLC the default for all similar media files. Change default app on Mac
  6. Close the info window and confirm files now open with VLC by default.

You can also set the default application for media files globally on Mac by going to Finder > Preferences > General and choosing VLC under Default apps.

Set VLC as Default Player on Linux

The process varies across Linux desktop environments, but here are a few common methods:

KDE Plasma Desktop

  1. Right-click media file > Properties.
  2. Click the wrench icon to adjust file type options.
  3. Under File Type Options, change open with to VLC.

GNOME Desktop

  1. Right-click media file > Properties.
  2. Click the Open With tab.
  3. Select VLC media player from the list.

Most Linux distributions let you change default applications under System Settings. You can set VLC as the standard for music, movies, and other media categories there as well.

In terminal, you can also run commands like xdg-mime default vlc.desktop video/* to set VLC as the default for video files.

Getting the Most Out of VLC

Once you have VLC set up as your go-to media solution, take advantage of these great features to get the best experience:

  • Stream media from your phone, tablet or files on a NAS to your desktop VLC over DLNA. No cables needed!
  • Use the extensive audio settings to tweak sound with equalizers and spatial effects. Dial in the perfect sound.
  • Download subtitles right in VLC and sync them perfectly to your video files.
  • Play YouTube or SoundCloud audio in the background or when the screen is off.
  • Control playback speed and frame-by-frame stepping to catch every detail.
  • Cast and stream to devices like Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV or smart TVs.
  • Automate media handling with advanced preferences and hotkeys tailored to your needs.

Take some time to dive into VLC’s settings and documentation to unlock its full potential. It can do far more than just play local media files.