There are lots of video players out there, but one that we think gets overlooked is SMPlayer. It can do anything other video players can do and even more – like remembering where you left off in case you get interrupted during a movie.
Yes, SMPlayer remembers where you were when you closed a video and starts up at that spot the next time you open it. In fact, SMPlayer remembers all of your settings for each video, so if you had to delay the audio by 100 milliseconds to sync it up properly, it will stay synced next time. SMPlayer comes with all of the codecs it needs built-in.
It’s fully open source, and available for Windows and Linux. This guide focuses on the Windows version.
Installation is straightforward, using the familiar setup wizard. One option that you may or may not want to install are a set of optional codecs. These codecs are stored in SMPlayer’s directory, not in any of the Windows system directories.
There’s no downside to installing them other than the loss of a few megabytes of hard drive space, but almost all videos will play without these optional codecs.
If you’re using the smaller (recommended) installer, the setup wizard will download some packages during installation.
You can now open up SMPlayer through the start menu or a desktop shortcut if you made one during installation. Once you open SMPlayer you’ll be greeted with its clean and simple interface.
While most of the default options for SMPlayer are sensible, there are a few settings we recommend changing. To do this, click on the Options menu item and then Preferences (or just press Ctrl+P).
Click on the Drives item in the list on the left. If you know the drive letter of your CD / DVD drive, then select them here. If not, click on the Scan for CD/DVD Drives button.
This will eliminate the drives that are not CD / DVD drives from the drop-down boxes. In our case, we just have one CD / DVD drive, F.
Click on the Interface item in the list on the left, and then the Instances tab. Put a checkmark in the box labeled “Use only one running instance of SMPlayer” If you don’t, then when you double-click on a movie while another one is playing, it will open up another instance of SMPlayer, playing both videos at the same time.
Using the Keyboard
Keyboard shortcuts make SMPlayer simple to control. It won’t take long until these become automatic.
|F||Play movie fullscreen|
|Ctrl+D||Double movie size (toggles back to normal size)|
|Spacebar||Pause / resume movie|
|Left arrow key||Small skip backwards (-10 seconds by default)|
|Right arrow key||Small skip forwards (+10 seconds by default)|
|Down arrow key||Medium skip backwards (-1 minute by default)|
|Up arrow key||Medium skip forwards (+1 minute by default)|
|Page down||Large skip backwards (-10 minutes by default)|
|Page up||Large skip forwards (+10 minutes by default)|
All of the keyboard shortcuts can be changed. Open the preferences window (Options > Preferences or Ctrl+P) and select the Keyboard and Mouse item in the list on the left. Click on the Change short… button to change the shortcut associated with any action.
You can also change how much time is skipped with the arrow keys and page up / page down shortcuts. To do this, click on the Interface item in the list on the left and then the Seeking tab.
Always Use SMPlayer to Play Movies
After you’ve tried out SMPlayer, you might want to make it the Windows default so that when you double click on a movie it opens in SMPlayer. If you’re using Windows XP, then in the preferences window there is a File Types section to associate files with SMPlayer.
This won’t work in Windows 7 unless you’re running SMPlayer as an administrator. Instead, it’s easier to use Windows 7’s built-in Default Programs selector.
Select SMPlayer from the list and click “Set this program as default” to associate SMPlayer with all files it can open – which includes both audio and video files.
This might not be ideal if you already have an audio player that you like. If that’s the case, click on the “Choose defaults for this program” option and check the file types that you want to associate with SMPlayer (for videos, common file types are .avi, .mpg, .mkv, etc.).
SMPlayer is a fast feature-rich movie player for Windows and Linux. If you’re having problems with your current movie player, or are just looking for a change of pace, you might want to give SMPlayer a try!
Trevor is our resident Linux geek, but always keeps his eyes open for neat Windows tricks too.
- Published 02/16/10