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5 ways to watch videos on Linux

Are you a new Linux user? Do you have some video files you’d like to watch but can’t figure out how to do it, or what app to use? We can help! Follow along with us as we go over 5 ways to watch videos on Linux!

1. VLC

The VLC media player is by far the best way Linux users can watch videos on the platform. The reason? It’s an incredible media player powerhouse supporting nearly every video format. It even supports DVDs and Bluray!

To play a video with VLC, do the following. First, make sure you have it installed on your Linux PC. To install it, check out our in-depth guide on the subject

Once you’ve installed VLC on your system, open it up by looking for it in the app menu. When the app is open, find the “Media” button at the top and click on it to reveal the menu items inside.

Inside the “Media” menu, select the “Open File” button to play a single video file. After selecting “Open File,” a pop-up window will appear. Using this pop-up window, browse for the video file you would like to play.

After selecting the video file in the pop-up window, VLC will start playing. If you would like to play multiple videos in VLC, go back to the “Media” menu and select the “Open Multiple Files” option instead.

2. SMPlayer

SMPlayer is an excellent GUI front-end for the popular Linux command-line app Mplayer. It gives users an easy-to-use UI and access to tons of useful media player features without needing to fiddle with the command-line. SMPlayer is what you want if you prefer advanced features in video players on Linux but dislike VLC.

If you want to play a video on your Linux desktop using the SMPlayer app, you’ll need to install it first. To install it, launch a terminal window on the desktop. Then, follow the command-line installation instructions below to get the app working.


sudo apt install smplayer


sudo apt-get install smplayer

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S smplayer


sudo dnf install smplayer


sudo zypper install smplayer

With the app installed, it is time to use SMPlayer to play a video. Launch the SMPLayer app on the Linux desktop by searching for it in the app menu. Once SMPlayer is open, find the “Open” menu, and select it with the mouse. 

After selecting the “Open” menu, look for “File” and select it. By selecting “File,” a pop-up window will appear on the screen. Use this pop-up window to browse for the video file you wish to play, and SMPlayer will play it back.

3. MPV

MPV is a powerful media player that can play videos as well as music and other media. On Linux, MPV is favored for its consistent video playback and broad codec support, and the fact that it can run as a GUI or as a terminal app.

Before we can go over how to use the MPV app, you must install it on your computer. To install the MPV app on Linux, launch a terminal window. Once the terminal window is open, follow along with the command-line installation instructions.


sudo apt install mpv


sudo apt-get install mpv

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S mpv


First, enable RPM Fusion. Then, execute the command below.

sudo dnf install mpv


sudo zypper install mpv

With the app installed on your Linux PC, open up MPV in the app menu by searching for “MPV.” Once MPV is open, launch the Linux file manager, and use it to browse for the video file you wish to play.

When you’ve found the video file you wish to play in MPV, drag it into the MPV video player window to start the playback. MPV will begin playing the video file immediately after the file is dragged into it.

4. Parole

Another great way to watch video files on Linux is with Parole. It’s a modern video player that aims to give users a straightforward user interface with decent features such as playlist support, plug support, and more. Parole is a favorite with many lightweight desktop environments (XFCE4, Mate, etc.), as it is very light on system resources.

To play a video with Parole, you must first install it to your Linux PC if you aren’t running a desktop environment that comes with it pre-installed. To install, follow the command-line installation instructions below.


sudo apt install parole


sudo apt-get install parole

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S parole


sudo dnf install parole


sudo zypper install parole

With Parole installed on your Linux PC, launch the app by searching for it in your app menu. Then, once the app is open, find the “Media” menu, and click on it with the mouse.

Inside of the “Media” menu, select the “Open” button. By selecting “Open,” a pop-up window will appear on the screen. Use the pop-up window to browse for the video file you wish to play. 

5. Celluloid

Celluloid is an elegant front-end video player for MPV. Many Linux users choose to go with Celluloid instead of MPV, as it makes MPV more user-friendly and has a better GUI.

To play a video back with Celluloid on Linux, follow this guide to install the app. Once you’ve got the app working, launch it from your app menu. 

Inside of Celluloid, find the “+” button in the app’s top-left corner and click on it with the mouse. After clicking on “+,” find the “Open” menu option and select it to bring up the file-browser pop-up window.

Using the file-browser pop-up window, select the video file you wish to play in Celluloid to start the video playback.


In this list, we went over 5 ways you can watch video files on Linux. However, there are more than 5 video players on the Linux platform. Tell us in the comment section below what video player you like to use!

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