Command-line interface

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This page describes how to access the terminal and start VLC in it.

A terminal is a text-based way to run programs. It is normally pre-installed on your computer. The command prompt may also be called the "Command Prompt", "Console", "Terminal", "MS-DOS Prompt", or something similar.

Running VLC from the terminal gives you access to many commands and features in VideoLAN which you would not otherwise have: see the VLC command-line help page to find out more about options from the command line.

Note that % is used on many of the examples on the VLC Wiki to represent the prompt, so you don't need to type that in.
Depending on your operating system, the prompt could appear as a >, %, $ or # symbol. Read on for a detailed explanation.

Tip: For extended command-line work (or play) it may be worth changing to the directory of VLC. Most command-line interpreters will understand vlc or vlc.exe to be the program in that directory.


In Windows, this is called the command prompt. To open the command prompt:

  • Click on the Start Menu and select Run.
  • In the Run box, type cmd (or command for older versions of Windows) and press enter.

The command prompt will look something like this:


To run VLC, you will need to know where you installed VLC; the default is "%PROGRAMFILES%\VideoLAN\VLC". So to start VLC, type the full path to VLC and the options:

"%PROGRAMFILES%\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe" options

replacing options with the name of the file to play and its options.


You can run VLC on macOS using a terminal application, such as in /Applications/Utilities. In the terminal window type

/Applications/ options

replacing options with VLC options, commands, the name of the file to play, and so on.

To suppress the launch of any Mac-like interface, you have to add the Option -I or --intf followed by the interface you want to use instead.
Available interfaces are:

  • rc (remote control)
  • ncurses (command-line-gui)
  • http (web interface, usually on port 8080)—this interface will prevent VLC from appearing even in the Dock.

In older versions you could replace the "VLC" at the end of the path with "clivlc" to suppress the launch of any Mac-like interface.


How to get a Linux terminal varies by distribution (for any desktop setup it will be somewhere in the applications; these are merely shortcuts). If you use Ubuntu or Linux Mint, gnome-terminal can be opened with the key combination Ctrl+Alt+T. If you use RHEL/Fedora/CentOS, gnome-terminal can be opened by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Open terminal.

By convention:

  • The standard user prompt may appear as $ or % or something else.
  • The root user prompt is represented with a #. This is an indication that you must either log in as root (potential security risk) or prefix the command with sudo and enter your password.

To run VLC, you can normally type

vlc options

replacing options with the name of the file to play and its options.