Last week I introduced y’all to Quicktime Alternative and Real Alternative, which are great substitutes for installing the Quicktime and RealPlayer software. I mentioned that they both come with Media Player Classic. I’m sure that some of you are familiar with MPC and that the rest of you are asking why you would want to install yet another movie viewer on your computer?

The answer lies not in what MPC has, but rather what it does have. It doesn’t have much of anything that you don’t need and because of that, it is one of the lightest and most efficient movie viewers out there.

Not all of my computers are new and not all of them have a whole lot in the way of resources. As such, playing movies in more complicated software such as Windows Media Player, DivX Player, or Quicktime can sometimes tax system resources to the point that playback is affected. You ever have to close an application because you’re watching a movie that’s skipping? I do with some applications, but almost never with MPC. Don’t ask me how I know this, but you can actually have several MPC windows running several videos simultaneously without incident.

MPC also doesn’t change or install any system files on your computer. It’s a standalone EXE. You just put it where you want it and click on it. As such, it doesn’t hijack any extensions. The downside to this is that if you want to associate video files with it you have to do it manually. Once you do that, though, double-clicking on a video within Windows Explorer will be just as quick and uneventful as double-clicking on an image or document (compare this to WinAmp, wherein by doing so you may accidentally clear your playlist or other applications where you have to wait for a large application to load).

There are downsides, though. In addition to having to set the extensions manually, you also have to handle shortcuts for yourself (though, if you install it with Quicktime Alternative or Real Alternative, it will take care of this for you). The biggest drawback is the interface, which is plain to the point of being inconvenient. They essentially lifted the skin from an old version of Media Player (mplayer2.exe) and haven’t deviated much from that. That makes things like playlists unintuitive. Also, while it can play DVDs, the lack of an intuitive DVD menu leaves me using Nero or PowerDVD to play DVDs.

Part of me wishes that they’d improve on these fronts, but that would lead the program away from its most lean, mean self. I may only want a DVD menu and better playlist function, but other people would want other features and before you know it we have a clone of Windows Media Player. The good news is that it has the capability to do most of what I want it to do, but it has a steeper learning curve than most applications when it comes to advanced functions. On the other hand, when it comes to just opening a video and playing it, it’s as simple as it gets.


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3 Responses to Helpful Software: Media Player Classic

  1. Brandon Berg says:

    compare this to WinAmp, wherein by doing so you may accidentally clear your playlist or other applications where you have to wait for a large application to load

    With WinAmp, you can set the default action to enqueue (append to your playlist) rather than play (and kill your existing playlist). There’s a checkbox in the File Types section of the Preferences menu. The downside is that if WinAmp is already running, this won’t actually result in the file playing.

    The downside to this is that if you want to associate video files with it you have to do it manually.

    View -> Options -> Formats

  2. trumwill says:

    Hey! Cool! Thanks! 🙂

  3. logtar says:

    Very cool tech tip, I need to do more stuff like this 🙂 thanks.

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