While most of my recommendations in this series are web-based tools, there are a few old-fashioned applications worth downloading and installing on your laptop, desktop or mobile device. One of those is VideoLAN’s VLC Media Player, the best video player out there. QuickTime and and Windows Media Player are frustrating after using VLC because VLC can play any video out there on the Internet. With so many different formats and codex, we need VLC to play them all. If you switch back and forth between Apple and Windows, you can install VLC in both and have the same interface. (It also has versions for a dozen flavors of Linux, as well as Android and iOS.)
But VLC doesn’t JUST play every video you can think of. You can use it to download YouTube videos to play at important presentations, when you can’t depend on Internet streaming. You can use it to capture your screen activity to show someone how to do something (click this button and then click that link…). You can use it to convert formats of videos, say, from Windows Media to mp4, for example. Use it with your webcam to make a video podcast. You can even use it to subscribe to video podcasts, a wonderful on-demand alternative to television. Find out more on these extra features over at lifehacker.
Once you install VLC, you will want your OS (Windows or OSX) to use VLC instead of its default (regular) Windows Media Player (WMP) or on Apples, Quicktime. This is easiest while you are installing VLC. It will ask you what kinds of files you want it to play. Select ALL. If you forget, you can always change by right-clicking on any video file, and one of the menu items will be “Play with” and have VLC as a choice. Click on the checkbox to make VLC the default player.
VideoLAN is an Open Source non-profit company, depending on volunteers for development and donations to keep the lights on. It is the best way to create new software these days. Look at Linux, Wikipedia and many more for examples. Then support VLC.