A video’s bitrate is a key piece of information in determining the quality of said video. Even if two videos have the same resolution, a lower bitrate is going to result in less detail and clarity. Here’s how to see the bitrate of any video you’re playing in real time with VLC.

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VLC is a powerful, cross-platform app that can play virtually any video file and has a ton of hidden features. One handy little tool lets you see a video’s bitrate in real time. Higher bitrates mean more detail, but it also requires more processing power and bandwidth. Lower bitrates may be easier to stream or to play back on older hardware, but you’ll see a decrease in picture quality.

NOTE: Most videos use a variable bitrate that can change from moment to moment. VLC lets you see which scenes use a higher bitrate to identify areas that may cause playback problems or crush the quality of your video. If you just want to see a video’s overall bitrate, check out our guide on how to do that in Windows or macOS here.

To find your video’s bitrate information, open up a video in VLC and click on the Tools menu and select Media Information.

In the window that appears, click the Statistics tab.

On this screen, you’ll see a chart under Input/Read. This displays a live view of the bitrate of your video as you watch it. Play the video for a few seconds to get enough data for this chart to fill in. The entry next to “Content bitrate” will most accurately represent what bitrate a video is using at the current time in the video.

You’ll notice as you play the video that the bitrate will raise and lower depending on what’s on the screen and how much movement there is. The peak bitrates will give you an idea of how much bandwidth you’ll need if you want to stream the video over the internet without any degradation in quality or converting the video.

Profile Photo for Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Popular Science, Medium's OneZero, Android Police, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Prior to joining How-To Geek, Eric spent three years working at Lifehacker.
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