How to browse a video frame by frame with VLC Media Player

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Matthew M. White
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When it comes to free media players, VLC is the undisputed king. It plays everything: files, discs, webcams, streams, and will even work with that weird codec-encrypted file you downloaded from an Eastern European website (but please don't download no strange files from Eastern European websites). It works on all platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Unix, iOS and Android. So if you haven't added it to Windows 10 or whatever platform you're using yet, click Download VLC on this page. One handy feature VLC offers is Frame by Frame, which lets you play a video step by step. This can be handy if you need to capture snapshots from video, or just want to carefully review every frame of that sick skateboard jump you've captured on your smartphone.



To play a video frame by frame, you can press a hotkey. First, open a video in VLC by selecting Media > Open File; then play the clip. Now press the E key. The video will pause. Now each additional press of the E key will advance the video one frame. To restart the video, just press the spacebar.

E is the default keyboard shortcut for the Picture by Picture option, but you can customize this and other keyboard shortcuts. Click Tools > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts to open a list of keyboard shortcuts as below. Then scroll down to Next Image on this window. Double-click on it to open the window below.


Just hit the new hotkey for Next Image to set it up. Click save it in the Simple Preferences window. Then you can press the new Picture by Picture keyboard shortcut.

You can also activate Next Image with a toolbar button. If it's not already in your reading toolbar, click Tools > Customize Interface to open the window below. Scroll down the list of toolbar items until you find the Frame by Frame option. Drag this button somewhere on Line 2 so you can select the option from the playback toolbar.



Now you can step through a video frame by frame with a hotkey or toolbar button. Either way, this option will allow you to capture specific snapshots from a video with either the Snipping Tool or the VLC Take Snapshot option. For more details on how to capture screenshots in Windows 10, check out this Tech Junkies article.


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