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5 Amazing Linux Video Players for Watching Movies and Shows


Linux is fantastic for variety. There are dozens of video players to choose from, and they’ll all get the job done—so which one should you use? Which one is right for you? Variety is great, but who has the time to sift through it all?

Before writing this piece, two of our favorite video players were MPC-HC and PotPlayer. Unfortunately, both are only available on Windows, which leaves us in a bind when it comes to watching our beloved videos.

So we set out on a journey to narrow down the wide selection of Linux video players to the best of the best. Here’s what we found.

1. MPV

MPV Player in Linux

MPV is a video player that’s been skyrocketing in popularity over the past few years. It’s a fork of mplayer2, which is itself a fork of the original MPlayer. What does that mean for you?

Refinement, quality, ease of use, and a beautifully minimal interface that gets out of the way and lets you watch your videos without distraction.

Like MPlayer, MPV is a command-line tool that opens up a graphical player once you load a file. What’s great, however, is that MPV revamped the command line parser to be more consistent with other Linux command-line tools. So if you like MPlayer, there’s a good chance you’ll like MPV even more.

As far as the interface goes, there are only a handful of things you need to bother with: playback control, a fullscreen button, seek bar, and selectors for audio tracks and subtitle tracks. It has everything you need and none of the bloat.


MPV is built on FFmpeg. So it can support nearly all codecs and formats, both common and uncommon. So, if you are looking for an alternative to PotPlayer for Linux, MPV is an option worth trying.

Download: MPV (Free)

2. SMPlayer

SMPlayer playing video on linux

Technically speaking, SMPlayer isn’t its video player. It’s a graphical frontend for MPlayer that wraps the command-line tool with an intuitive interface and lets you watch videos without having to know anything about the terminal.

In terms of features, SMPlayer is one of the complete packages out there—even if you compare it against video players on other operating systems. It has playlists, configurable subtitles, support for streaming radio and TV, and a lot of preferences to play with.

It also supports custom skins, which is good since the default look feels a bit dated.

There’s even more good news: SMPlayer is compatible with the aforementioned MPV, which basically wraps the awesomeness of MPV within SMPlayer’s interface. Use this combination to get the best of all worlds.

Download: SMPlayer (Free)

3. GNOME Videos

GNOME Videos on linux

Formerly known as Totem, this video player is so nice that we included it in our list of best Linux software. As the name implies, Videos is the default video player that comes bundled with most GNOME environments, and as such, it integrates well with other GNOME elements like Nautilus.

Because Videos is used by such a broad audience, it doesn’t try to specialize in any meaningful way and doesn’t offer much in the way of customization. Rather, its sole purpose is to play video files without any hassle—which it does flawlessly.

Videos doesn’t come with a wide range of codecs straight out of the box, but if you attempt to play a video without the proper codec installed, Videos will prompt you with a one-click install solution. Very fast and convenient.

Other features include a playlist sidebar (which can be toggled), a minimal interface, and a built-in YouTube search that allows you to browse and play YouTube videos (as well as related videos) without ever leaving Videos.

If you are searching for an easy-to-use video player for your desktop, do check out GNOME Videos. You might get the best built-in solution.

Download: GNOME Videos (Free)

4. Haruna

Haruna Player playing videos on linux

Haruna is an open-source video player by KDE built with Qt/QML and libmpv. KDE is the developer community behind the popular Plasma desktop environment.

With Haruna, you can play online videos through youtube-dl. It even supports YouTube playlists. You can toggle the playlist by hovering over it.

The app supports a lot of useful keyboard shortcuts for convenient use. Moreover, you can add two subtitles to your video simultaneously.

Haruna might not be the most feature-rich player on this list. It is, however, a solid choice with all the necessary functionality.

Download: Haruna (Free)

5. VLC

VLC Player on Linux

Lastly, we have VLC. It’s one of the most—if not the most—popular video players in the world, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. After all these years, the developers (along with open source contributors) continue to push out new features and updates.

But does it deserve the reputation that it has? Absolutely. After all, VLC has been a pioneering force since it first hit the scene back in the early 2000s.

It supports nearly every codec and format thanks to its FFmpeg foundation, and it has a bunch of filters that can change the way video is displayed, even going as far as outputting video as classic ASCII art. Our favorite feature is the ability to play video streams directly as long as you obtain the proper URLs.

And if the default functionality of VLC isn’t enough for you, you are free to write scripts that alter or add to the core features. But before you do that, be sure to check out these amazing VLC features that you probably didn’t know existed.

If you’ve never used VLC before, you’re missing out. Just give it a try. You won’t regret it.

Download: VLC (Free)

Which Linux Video Player Do You Like Best?

It’s a hard choice for us. We’re impressed by the all-in-one nature of Haruna and by the incredible simplicity of MPV. SMPlayer and VLC are both widely loved, and we find it difficult to think of reasons not to use them. And then there’s GNOME Videos, which is more than enough for most people.

We’ll probably stick with Videos, but they’re all winners. At this point, it all comes down to preference, so pick the one that appeals most to you and smile.

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