VLC Media Player is a free, open-source application that does one thing very well: It plays nearly any media file you can imagine.
Initially released in 2001, the app has been continually developed and improved ever since. It’s now indispensable for people who watch videos and listen to audio on their computers. That’s pretty much everyone.
If you’re not already using it, download it here and see what you’ve been missing.
VLC is compatible with Windows, OS X, Linux, and even a discontinued operating system called BeOS. Pretty much no matter what hardware you use, you'll be able to run this powerful app.
This is VLC's killer feature -- it's nearly bulletproof when it comes to playing weird or obscure media formats. QuickTime and Windows Media Player are anemic weaklings by comparison.
Not only can the app make sense of all these disparate file formats, it can export them as newer, more compatible versions with its built-in transcoding tool.
As a fun oddity, you can apply a number of video effects to whatever content you're watching. Here's the 'psychedelic' effect in full swing.
Even quirkier, there's a puzzle game built into it. Select a number of rows and columns, and VLC will mix them around so you can play a tile-swapping game to get the video back to normal.
Add text or an image to your video to help brand it. If you add an image, VLC includes a slider to help set transparency.
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