I can't seem to set VLC media player as the default video player. I have gone to System SettingsSystem InfoDefault Applications, and changed "Video" to VLC media player.

However, all movies still open with Movie Player (Totem) by default. The video default application setting appears to have no effect. I have tried changing the setting and logging out/rebooting, but it doesn't appear to work.

Is there some command-line magic that can work on this?


8 Answers 8


Go to System SettingsSystem infoDefault Applications, and set it there. It works in Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot).

In Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) and later, it's found in System SettingsDetailsDefault Applications.

  • 2
    Even though the poster states clearly that this doesn't work? I suspect that this only affect a certain extension - perhaps mp4. (S)He's trying to open a matroska (mkv) file and default applications appears to be ignoring that.
    – Scaine
    Jan 24, 2012 at 17:05
  • doesn't work for me
    – Sirber
    Mar 17, 2012 at 19:28
  • 13
    In 13.04 it is in System Settings/Details/Default Applications
    – ltn100
    Jun 1, 2013 at 9:30
  • It's 2015, @ltn100's answer works in 15.10 too, can you update? Nov 16, 2015 at 10:09

Rightclick any video file, choose properties. Choose Open With and there you can select VLC and the option set as default (bottom right).

enter image description here


14.04 and 16.04 also has this option:

enter image description here

  • This step is to be done on all video filetypes. You can also replace /usr/share/applications/totem.desktop with /usr/share/applications/vlc.desktop to fool Ubuntu that VLC is Totem but I don't recommend this method.
    – jcisio
    Dec 31, 2011 at 9:42
  • 4
    If your screenshot is correct, the step you've done is just for "Matroska video".
    – jcisio
    Jan 1, 2012 at 4:51
  • 2
    Set as default doesn't seem to be there in 13.04
    – ltn100
    Jun 1, 2013 at 9:32
  • 3
    @Rinzwind - I didn't see it in a fresh install of 13.04 as well when trying to set VLC as the default for MP4's. I had to go into System Settings > Details > Default Applications as suggested by Pyri to change it.
    – Nick
    Jan 2, 2014 at 3:53
  • 1
    Wow, it is very simple, It is working for Ubuntu 20.04 also.
    – Sun
    Jun 28, 2022 at 2:55

Ubuntu 13.10, 14.04

Click on the gear icon in the top right corner then select the option About this computer. From that set Vlc media player as default application for opening videos.

enter image description here

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  • hi! I set this (14.04) but nautilus has used totem (instead of vlc) yet. How can I set vlc as default for nautilus (and for gnome-disk-image-mounter too)?
    – Regisz
    May 8, 2014 at 12:55
  • follow the first answer. May 8, 2014 at 13:04
  • thx Avinash Raj, but I have problem with dvd-s not video files, so that answer does not help me (if I think well)
    – Regisz
    May 8, 2014 at 13:07

In Ubuntu 12.10, go to

"System Settings" "Details" "Default Applications"

CLick on the "down arrow" for "Video"

Select "VLC Media Player"

Then close window.


If you want to assocoate all video mimetypes with vlc for current user, you can do this:

  1. Check totem is currently default for all video mimetypes:

    cat /usr/share/applications/defaults.list | grep video

    You will see lines like this:

  2. Append all the lines containing video types to the local file:

    cat /usr/share/applications/defaults.list | grep video >> ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list
  3. Replace all occurences of "=totem.desktop" with "=vlc.desktop" in vim, nano, geany or gedit. E.g. Search->Replace in gedit:

    gedit ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list

P.S.: If you want to open audio by default in vlc too, then just replace "grep video" with "grep audio" and "=totem.desktop" with "=rhythmbox.desktop" in above 1,2,3.

Source: http://www.libre-software.net/change-the-default-application-ubuntu-linux


Remove the totem video player via ubuntu software center. It appears with name "Video". This will make every video format use VLC automatically.


For 12.04

In Ubuntu Tweak under File Type Manager you can change and set the default for all media types and their specific formats.

  • Worked nicely for me. Allows you to set the default for all extensions at once. Jul 3, 2013 at 15:01

I managed to fix this by right click on the video file > Open With Other Applications > Right click on Banshee and click Forget association

I say Banshee, because I already uninstalled Totem in order to fix the issue.

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