How to play any video format

Reproducir cualquier formato de vídeo

Do you have a video for that very important work presentation and when you try to play it nothing can be seen? Or they have sent you a video which everyone says is stunning and you are the only one that cannot view it?

Video players, codecs, formats, … phew! Does this sound familiar to you? Do not worry, in this article we explain to you how to play almost any video without complicating your life.

Installing VLC, a player for everything

The VLC Media Player is a very popular player which embeds all the support needed to play most file formats both video and audio. It is more than likely that you are not going to need any other application.

In order to set up the VLC in your computer, both in Windows and in Mac:

  1. Go to the VLC official website: https://videolan.org/vlc/
  2. Download it.
  3. Run the file that you have just downloaded in order to install the VLC. Do not worry, it is easy, you will only have to follow the steps that appear on the screen.
  4. 4. That is all. In Windows, you should now have a desktop shortcut (an icon that looks like a road cone). If this were not the case, go to “Start → All programs → VideoLAN → VLC Media player”. And if you use a Mac, you will find the VLC in Applications.
Installing VLC Video Player

Playing videos

To watch a video, right click on it, and choose “Open with → VLC media player” in the contextual menu.

Playing video with VLC (contextual menu)

You can also open the VLC player and pick up the video from the “Media → Open file” menu.

Playing video with VLC

The video is seen squished or stretched, what can I do?

If you open a video with the VLC and it is seen squished or stretched that means that the proper aspect ratio is not being used. Do not worry, go to “Video → Aspect ratio” menu and choose the proper value. Usually with “4:3” or “16:9” the problem will be solved.

Video aspect ratio

Converting videos into other formats

The VLC is capable of playing most video formats, and you can install the VLC in Windows, Mac and Linux. But... what if you want to play a video directly on your TV, or on your multimedia hard drive, or on your mobile? Yo will not be able to install the VLC there and you will have to convert the video.

Well, in addition to being a player, the VLC is also a video converter. For example, if you have a TV or a multimedia hard drive which can play DivX videos directly:

  1. Launch the VLC.
  2. Go to “Media → Convert/Save” menu.
  3. A new window with “Open media” title will appear. You should be on “File” tab.
  4. Click on the “Add..” button and select the video you want to be converted.
  5. Click on the “Convert/Save” button.
  6. In the new window that will now appear, leave the “Convert” option selected.
  7. Check out the “Show output” checkbox if you want to watch the video while it is being converted. This is not necessary, but it will be less boring than watching a blank screen... Anyway, keep in mind that checking the “Show output” option might make the conversion run slower.
  8. As profile, choose the format that you want to convert to. For example “Video for DIVX compatible player”. Note that you have many other formats to choose from, as for instance “Video for MPEG4 1080p TV/device”, or “Video for iPod HD/iPhone/PSP”.
  9. In “Destination”, click on the “Browse” button. Select the folder where you want to save the converted video and type in a file name.
  10. Click on “Start”.
  11. Now the video will be converted. You will see a progress bar. Wait until it finishes. Be patient, depending on the video length, the format and how slow your computer is, the conversion task may take several minutes.
  12. That is all. Now you have your video with the format that you needed.
Converting video format with VLC

For important events

If you have to take a video to be played during a work presentation, or during a social event, probably you will take your notebook with you, with the VLC installed. But what if you cannot use your own computer? Perhaps you will have to use a computer from the event organizer, connected to a projector. Or simply you cannot bring your own computer.

If you want be sure that you will be able to play your video, take it to the event converted at least to the following formats:

  • Windows Media (.wmv) in order to play it directly in Windows. You can convert the video with the VLC using the “WMV + WMA (ASF)” profile. Click on the button with the tools icon to edit the profile and perform further adjustments.
  • H264 MP4, in order to play it directly in Mac. You can convert the video with the VLC using the “H.264 + MP3“ profile. Click on the button with the tools icon to edit the profile and perform further adjustments.

In any case, check the videos on several different computers before the day of the event.

And if I take my external hard drive with plenty of videos, or the videos are very big, do I have to waste my time converting them?

If you want to be more self-sufficient, but you will not be able to use your own computer, you can use the portable version of the VLC. A portable version of an applications means that you can put it into a pendrive or external hard drive and execute it directly from there, without having to install anything on the computer.

Keep in mind that the portable verison from PortableApps.com that we recommend will work in Windows, but it will not in Mac.

  1. Go to http://portableapps.com/apps/music_video/vlc_portable
  2. Download the VLC portable clicking on the green button which says “Download Now”.
  3. Now you should have the “VLCPortable_2.1.3.paf.exe” file.
  4. Plug in your hard drive or pendrive.
  5. Launch the “VLCPortable_2.1.3.paf.exe” installer and follow the steps that will appear on the screen, until they ask you for “Choose Install Location”.
  6. Choose the drive which corresponds to your pendrive or external hard drive.
  7. Now, in your pendrive or external hard drive, you will have a “VLCPortable” folder and, inside it, the “VLCPortable.exe” executable (the file with the icon of a road cone).
  8. That is all. Now if you take your pendrive or your external hard drive and you plug it into a different computer, you will only have to go to the “VLCPortable” folder and launch “VLCPortable.exe”, Nothing will be installed in the other computer, and you will be able to play your videos without worrying about applications, codecs or formats.

Do you have any questions or suggestions about how to use the VLC or how to play videos in different formats? Feel free to leave your comments below. And if you have found this article useful, we encourage you to share it in your social network using the buttons below.

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