Installing the VLC Media Player on Ubuntu

In this guide, we will show you how to install the VLC media player on Ubuntu.

install vlc on ubuntu

VLC is one of the most popular open-source media players that you can install to your Ubuntu system.

VLC has become such a popular choice for Ubuntu because of its support for a wide range of media.

Using this software, you can play basically any multimedia you throw at it, including DVDs, Audio CDs, and even streaming protocols such as RTMP.

In this guide, we will show you a couple of different methods for installing VLC. Two of which use the command line, and one that uses the Ubuntu desktop interface.

You can install VLC on most versions of Ubuntu, including Ubuntu 16.04 and Ubuntu 20.04.

Installing VLC to Ubuntu using the Terminal

Using the terminal is one of the fastest ways of installing VLC to your Ubuntu operating system.

By following these steps, you will need to either use SSH on your Ubuntu system or open the terminal.

The easiest way to open the terminal is by pressing CTRL + X, followed by Y, then ENTER.

Install Using snap

Snaps are a special way of packaging software like VLC that Canonical developed. They make it incredibly simple to install software as there are no dependencies.

As the packages are containerized and contain anything they need to run, they are typically larger than installing a package through the package repository.

A bonus of using snaps is that they are automatically updated. Snap continues to check for updates and will update software like VLC once it detects an available update.

1. Using snap is a straightforward way of installing VLC to Ubuntu.

To install the snap version of VLC to your Ubuntu device, run the following command within the terminal.

sudo snap install vlc

2. During the installation process, snap will find and download the latest version of VLC.

There is no need to install any additional packages as they are contained within the VLC snap container.

Once the installation completes, you are safe to continue.

Installing VLC from the Ubuntu Repository

If you would prefer not to use snap to install software, we can still use the apt package manager.

The version of VLC available through the Ubuntu repository may not be the latest version.

This section will show you the simple steps for installing VLC directly from the Ubuntu package repository.

1. Before installing VLC from the Ubuntu package repository we must first run an update.

Running an update ensures we have the latest package list and won’t run into any issues when installing VLC.

Update the package list by running the following command on your Ubuntu system.

sudo apt update

2. Once the update completes, we can install VLC.

Installing VLC from the package repository requires us to run the following command.

sudo apt install vlc

Once the package manager finishes downloading and installing the software and its dependencies, you are safe to continue.

Running VLC on Ubuntu

Now that you have installed VLC to your Ubuntu system, you probably want to open it and start viewing your media.

For these next few steps, you will need to have access to your Ubuntu systems desktop interface. There’s no point in opening VLC if you can’t see what it is playing.

1. The easiest way to open VLC is to open up the activities screen.

You can open the activities screen by clickingActivities” in the top-left corner, or the icon in the bottom-left corner.

Ubuntu Open Activities Screen

2. With the activities screen opened, we can use the search bar to look for “vlc” (1.).

Searching for this text should reveal “VLC media player” as an application. You need to click this icon to open VLC on your Ubuntu device (2.).

Search for VLC Media Player on Ubuntu Activities Screen

3. Finally, you should have the VLC media player running.

You can now use VLC to play almost any multimedia file on your Ubuntu device.

VLC Running successfully on Ubuntu

Setting VLC as the Default Media Player on Ubuntu

Thanks to VLC’s fantastic media support, you will probably want to set it as the default media player for Ubuntu.

Below we have included steps for Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu 20.04. If you are unsure what version you are running, we have a straightforward guide to checking your Ubuntu version.

Ubuntu 20.04

The following steps are for setting the default media player on Ubuntu 20.04. These steps are relatively straightforward and will only take you a couple of clicks.

1. To set the default media player, we need to get to the settings.

The easiest way to get to the settings on Ubuntu 20.04 is to click the status bar at the top-right of the desktop (1.).

Clicking this will bring up a little drop-down menu. From this menu, click the “Settings” option (2.).

Opening the Settings panel on 20.04

2. Scroll down the left-hand sidebar until you find the option panel titled “Default Applications” and click it (1.).

Using this next page, you will be able to set the default media player to VLC.

Find the “Video option and click it.

This should bring up a select box. Use this box to select “VLC media player” as the default player (2.).

VLC as default media player on Ubuntu 20.04

Now when you open a media file on Ubuntu, it should automatically use VLC to play it.

Ubuntu 18.04

In the steps below, we will be walking you through the simple process of setting VLC as the default media player on Ubuntu 18.04.

These steps should be fairly similar for most versions of Ubuntu.

1. To get to the settings quickly, start by clicking the panel in the top-right hand corner of the screen (1.).

A special panel should appear. Look for a button with a wrench and spanner on this panel and click it (2.).

Open Settings on Ubuntu 18.04

2. Scroll down the left-hand sidebar until you find the option titled “Details.

Once you have found it, click the option to change to that page.

Change to Details Screen

3. Change to the “Default Applications” tab by clicking it in the sidebar (1.).

On this page, you should see the “Video” option.

Clicking this option should pop up a select box that will allow you to set “VLC media player” as the default media player for Ubuntu (2.).

Set Default Applications for Ubuntu 18.04

Once set, any video file you load on Ubuntu should now default to using the VLC media player.


Hopefully, you will have now successfully installed the VLC media player on your Ubuntu device.

VLC is one of the best and most popular media players for Ubuntu. It has become known for its wide-ranging support, having inbuilt support for almost every available media codec,

VLC even boasts support for multiple media streaming protocols so that you can connect to protocols such as RTMP with it.

If you have had any issues installing VLC to your Ubuntu device, please feel free to leave a comment.

Be sure to check out some of our other Ubuntu guides, including how to install Wine to Ubuntu.

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