How to Make VLC the Default Media Player in Windows

For anyone who spends a significant portion of their day consuming media, whether it’s music, movies, or podcasts, the choice of media player is crucial. Among the myriad of options available, VLC Media Player stands out as a versatile, powerful, and free tool that has garnered a loyal following among tech enthusiasts and media lovers alike. However, to fully enjoy the seamless playback and rich feature set that VLC offers, it’s necessary to set it as your default media player. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of making VLC your go-to media player on Windows, ensuring that every file opens with the player you trust and prefer.

The Importance of Default Media Players

When you double-click on a media file, the system automatically pulls up a program to play it. This pre-selected program is called your “default media player.” While Windows comes with its own media player, it may not offer all the features and codecs one desires for a rich audio-visual experience. Customizing your default media player allows you to take control over your media consumption and ensure that your preferred player handles all your media files without you having to intervene.

How to Change Default Media Player in Windows

Setting VLC as the Default Media Player on Windows 10

Changing the default media player on Windows 10 is straightforward. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Open Settings: Click on the Windows Start menu and select ‘Settings’ (the gear icon).
  2. Navigate to Apps: Within the Settings window, click on ‘Apps’.
  3. Default Apps: In the left-hand sidebar, select ‘Default apps’.
  4. Choose Default Apps by File Type: Scroll down until you see ‘Choose default apps by file type’ and click on it.
  5. Select VLC: A new window will open with a long list of file types and their associated apps. Search for the media type you want to use with VLC and click on the current default app next to it. From the list of available applications that appears, choose ‘VLC media player.’
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Setting VLC as the Default Media Player on Earlier Versions of Windows

On Windows 7 or 8, the process is slightly different, but it’s as simple as it is on Windows 10.

  1. Control Panel: Open the Control Panel from the Start menu.
  2. Programs: Click on ‘Programs’, and then select ‘Default Programs’.
  3. Set Default Programs: Choose ‘Set your default programs’.
  4. Select VLC: From the list of available programs, find VLC media player and select ‘Set this program as default’. Alternatively, you can choose ‘Choose defaults for this program’ to select specific file types.

Advantages of Using VLC as Default

VLC Media Player has become a favorite for many reasons, especially when it’s set as the default media player:

  • Extensive Codec Support: VLC can play almost any media file you throw at it, with the rare ability to handle obscure codecs that other players might struggle with.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Your media habits are not confined to Windows; by using VLC as your default player, you will have a consistent experience across different operating systems.
  • Customization Features: VLC allows users to tweak their experience with video and audio filters, skins, and even the ability to set up your own shortcuts and modes.
  • Convert and Stream: Not only can VLC play virtually any file, but it also comes with tools for converting files into different formats and for streaming media over a network.

Troubleshooting Tips

While setting VLC as the default media player is a simple process, there might be instances where you encounter a hiccup.

Issue: VLC Doesn’t Show in the List of Default Apps

If VLC doesn’t appear in the list of apps when you attempt to set it as the default media player:

  • Run as Administrator: Try running VLC as an administrator before attempting to set it as the default app.
  • Reinstall VLC: If the issue persists, a quick reinstallation of the VLC player might solve the problem by allowing Windows to recognize the program again.
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Issue: Default App Changes Don’t Stick

Sometimes, Windows may reset default app settings after updates. To prevent this:

  • Lock Default Apps: Navigate back to the ‘Default apps’ section in Windows settings and choose ‘Set defaults by app.’ After selecting the app, choose which file types it should open by default, then click ‘Save.’ This should lock in your choices.
  • Third-Party App: There are third-party applications that can enforce default app settings, making sure your changes stick.


Making VLC the default media player on your Windows system is a small but significant step towards a more tailored multimedia experience. With its extensive feature set and flexibility, VLC provides an optimal viewing and listening environment, personalized to your exact specifications. Whether it’s about enjoying the cutting-edge performances or simply having all your media open effortlessly, VLC stands as an unrivaled choice.

For those who have not yet experienced the richness that VLC brings to media playback, there’s no better time than now to make the switch and see how it can transform your digital entertainment.

Additional Resources and FAQs

For those interested in deepening their understanding or tackling more complex issues, the following resources can be invaluable:

  • Official VLC Support: Direct your technical questions or troubleshooting requests to VLC’s official support channels.
  • Community Forums: Engage with other VLC users to exchange tips, suggestions, and solutions to common issues.
  • FAQs: Browse through frequently asked questions to find quick answers to the most common problems and inquiries.
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