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MPlayer is a popular movie player for GNU/Linux. It has support for most video and audio formats and is thus highly versatile, even if it is mostly used for viewing videos.


Install the mplayer package. A notable variant is mplayer-vaapiAUR which enables VA-API.

Some video players can use MPlayer as a backend.


System-wide configuration files are located in the /etc/mplayer/, whereas the user-local settings are stored in ~/.mplayer/ directory. The default files in the /etc/mplayer/ are:

  • codecs.conf - Contains configuration of codecs.
  • example.conf - Is an example of mplayer.conf, which is not automatically created after installation.
  • input.conf - Contains configuration of a hotkeys.

A file config is created in the ~/.mplayer/ directory by default.

See also: Example MPlayer configuration file, mplayer(1).

Key bindings

System key bindings are configured via /etc/mplayer/input.conf. Personal key bindings are stored in ~/.mplayer/input.conf. For a complete list of keyboard shortcuts look at mplayer(1).

See also: LQWiki:XF86 keyboard symbols

Tips and tricks

Hardware video acceleration

See Hardware video acceleration.

Enabling VDPAU

Append the following to either the system-wide (/etc/mplayer/mplayer.conf) or user-specific (~/.mplayer/config) configuration files:

  • The trailing commas are important! They tell MPlayer to fall back on other drivers and codecs should the specified ones not be found.
  • -vo option selects VDPAU video output driver, -vc option selects VDPAU video codecs.
  • The ffodivxvdpau codec is only supported by the most recent series of NVIDIA hardware. Consider omitting it based on your specific hardware. See Hardware video acceleration#NVIDIA for more information.

Enabling VA-API

This requires mplayer-vaapiAUR.

$ mplayer -vo vaapi -va vaapi foobar.mpeg
  • -vo - Select vaapi video output driver
  • -va - Select vaapi video decoder driver

MPlayer based players:

  • gnome-mplayer: To enable hardware acceleration: Edit > Preferences > Player, then set Video Output to vaapi.
  • smplayer: To enable hardware acceleration: Options > Preferences > General > Video, then set Output driver to vaapi.

Translucent video with Radeon cards and Composite enabled

To get translucent video output in X you have to enable textured video in MPlayer:

$ mplayer -vo xv:adaptor=1 file

You can use xvinfo to check which video modes your graphic card supports.

Watching streamed video

If you want to play a video stream (e.g an ASX link) use:

$ mplayer -playlist link-to-stream.asx

The -playlist option is necessary because these streams are actually playlists and cannot be played without it.

DVB-T Streaming

See DVB-T for more info.

DVD playing

To play a DVD with MPlayer:

$ mplayer dvd://N

where N is the desired title number. Start at 1 and work up if unsure. To start at a specific chapter use the '-chapter' flag. For example, adding '-chapter 5' to the command starts the dvd playing at chapter five of the title.

Mplayer checks /dev/dvd by default. Tell it to use /dev/sr0 with the dvd-device option at the command line, or the dvd-device variable in ~/.mplayer/config.

To play a DVD image file:

$ mplayer -dvd-device movie.iso dvd://N

To enable the DVD menu use:

$ mplayer dvdnav://
Note: You use arrow keys to navigate and the Enter key to choose.

To enable mouse support in DVD menus use:

$ mplayer -mouse-movements dvdnav://

To find the audio language, start MPlayer with the -v switch to output audio IDs. An audio track is selected with -aid audio_id. Set a default audio language by editing ~/.mplayer/config and adding the line alang=en for English.

With MPlayer, the DVD could be set to a low volume. To increase the maximum volume to 400%, use softvol=yes and softvol-max=400. The startup volume defaults to 100% of software volume and the global mixer levels will remain untouched. Using the 9 and 0 keys, volume can be adjusted between 0 and 400 percent.


JACK support

To have MPlayer audio output directed to JACK:

$ mplayer -ao jack path/to/file

Advanced Subtitles

In order to get Advanced SubStation Alpha (ass) or SubStation Alpha (ssa) formatted subtitles to display properly:

$ mplayer -ass path/to/subtitledVideo.mkv

One possible indication of needing to enable this flag is if you get numbers appearing with your subtitles. This is caused by the positioning information being interpreted as something to be displayed. Mplayer will also complain about subtitles being either too long or having too many lines.

Enabling ass also enables any embedded fonts. As per the note in the mplayer's man adding embeddedfonts=true is unneeded if fontconfig is version 2.4.2 or newer. Fontconfig will also be used to select which font to use when there are no embedded fonts. This may result in a different font being used than the OSD subtitle renderer.

Internet radio

Here is an example of a script for an easy start/stop of playing a predefined radio station. [1]

PLAYIT='mplayer  -loop 0 -playlist http://*.*.*.*:8000/listen.pls';

if [ "$XX" == "Xstop" ]; then
  killall mplayer;
  if [ 'EX' == 'EX'"$(pidof mplayer)" ]; then
    if [ "$UID" -ne 0 ]; then
      nohup $PLAYIT &> /dev/null & disown;
      echo The "root" user is not allowed to run this script.
    echo mplayer is already running by user: $(ps -eo user,comm | grep -i "mplayer"$ | sed 's/ mplayer/,/m') | sed "s/ ,$/./m";

For more details on a running mplayer instance:

$ ps -eo pcpu,pid,user,comm | grep -i "mplayer"$ | sed  "s/ mplayer$//m"

Additional binary codecs

If you need to play media encoded with the cook, drvc or sipr codecs, you can install the "essentials" binary codec pack with the codecs64AUR package. See for more information.

Allow Screensaver/DPMS while playback is paused

MPlayer by default blocks the screensaver what might be undesirable if you forget a paused video. The following configs will keep the screensaver and DPMS enabled but use xdotool to press an inert key every 60 seconds:

heartbeat-cmd="xdotool key VoidSymbol"


MPlayer fails to open files with spaces

MPlayer can fail to open a file with spaces (e.g. 'The Movie') by saying that it could not open the file file:///The%20Movie (where all spaces are converted to %20). This can be fixed by editing /usr/share/applications/mplayer.desktop to changing the following line from:

Exec=mplayer %U


Exec=mplayer "%F"

If you use a frontend/GUI for MPlayer, enter its name in Exec=gui_name "%F".

MPlayer has black or strange colored font for OSD and Subtitles

There appears to be an issue with OSD and Subtitle colors when using vdpau output, which mplayer may be using by default. You can get around this issue by using xv instead of vdpau:

$ mplayer -vo xv

See the original forums thread for details.

SMPlayer: No video issue

SMPlayer may have trouble opening some MP4 (and probably FLV) videos. If it plays only audio without any video, a possible fix is to use MOV as the demuxer:


If problem persists after doing so, it is because SMPlayer is keeping settings for that specific file. Deleting the settings for all the files that SMPlayer is keeping will solve this problem:

$ rm -rf ~/.config/smplayer/file_settings

SMPlayer: fail to resume playback after pause

SMPlayer might stop playing a video after pausing it if your audio output driver is incorrectly set. You can fix this by specifically setting your audio driver. For example, if you use PulseAudio, this can be done by starting MPlayer with the -ao pulse.

You can also change this from SMPlayer by going to Options > Preferences > General > Audio and setting the Output Driver option to pulse.

SMPlayer: no video when using transparency in GNOME

This problem may arise under GNOME when using Compiz to provide transparency: SMPlayer starts with a transparent screen with audio playing, but no video. To fix this, create (as root) a file with the contents:

exec smplayer.real "$@"

Make it executable and link it as shown below:

# ln -sf /usr/local/bin/smplayer.helper /usr/local/bin/smplayer

SMPlayer: OSD font too big / subtitle text too small

Since SMPlayer (with MPlayer2 20121128-1), the ratio of the subtitle font to the OSD font is very strange. This can result in the OSD text filling the whole screen while the subtitles are very small and unreadable. This problem can be solved by adding:

-subfont-osd-scale 2

or to the extra options passed to MPlayer from SMPlayer. These options are found in Options > Preferences > Advanced > Options for MPlayer.

Mplayer shows question marks for some characters on subtitle

If the codepage of the subtitles is utf8, try using:

-subcp utf8

You can find the codepage of the subtitles with:

$ file


Choppy audio CD playback

CDDA playback may be interrupted every few seconds as the CDROM spins down the CD. To get around this you need to cache or buffer in advance using the -cache option:

$ mplayer cdda://:1 -cache 1024

The :1 is to lower the CDROM speed for a constant spin and less noise.

See also