How-To Geek

Getting Started with SMPlayer on Windows (to Play Movies Better)

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.



Setting Options

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.

Keyboard shortcut Description
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!

Download SMPlayer for Windows and Linux

Trevor is our resident Linux geek, but always keeps his eyes open for neat Windows tricks too.

  • Published 02/16/10

Comments (15)

  1. Michael

    I currently use VLC for all of my video playing needs. Would SMPlayer be a better option? How do the two compare to each other?

  2. Juracule

    Is this better than the KMPlayer. By the look of it, I think the KMPlayer is more advanced and easy to use.

  3. Alec S.

    I’ll give this app a try. I generally use VLC for playing videos, and GOM Player for Flash videos (and Media Player Classic for when I need to single-frame a video). However VLC has been irritating me in some ways for a while, and the releases are slow, so I wouldn’t mind finding a better app.

  4. Trevor Bekolay

    @Michael and @Alec S.

    I switched from VLC to SMPlayer and I’ve been pretty happy. I found that VLC would sometimes be a bit sluggish when just starting a video or skipping around; SMPlayer’s been better in that respect. SMPlayer doesn’t have the bells and whistles that VLC does (like being able to rip DVDs) but that means it’s simpler and easier to use.

    If by single-frame you means go through a video frame-by-frame, you can do that on SMPlayer with the “.” (period) keyboard shortcut.


    I’ve never used KMPlayer personally so I can’t compare them directly. KMPlayer looks pretty capable, but according to the wikipedia article for it, the dev team is just one person. That may or may not be true, but at least with SMPlayer you have a community of people working on it, plus a separate (and larger, I think) community working on MPlayer, the movie playing core of SMPlayer.

  5. Blue

    I really loved SMplayer when I was using Ubuntu. Now that I switched over to Windows 7 on my main PC I have been using Media Player Classic. I wonder how SMplayer stack up to MPC in terms of hardware acceleration in windows. I’ll have to give it a shot.

  6. rroberto

    to HTG:
    Thanks so much. Love the player. Just wish it had a search function for help, but it’s still the best free player for the widest variety of formats.

    How does the VLC player aid in ripping DVDs? Does it have built-in software for that? And does it work with DVD43?

  7. Trevor Bekolay


    HTG has an article on ripping DVDs with VLC. It should work well with DVD43; I believe the way it works with VLC is that anything it can play it can also record… so it would play the DVD like it normally would, only instead of just displaying the output to the screen, it also outputs the movie to your hard drive.

  8. mark

    SMPlayer runs very lightweight on older computers (~7 years old), even lighter than VLC. I was pleasantly surprised. Great tip, thanks!

  9. Vijay

    SMPlayers errors out whenever there is a text file like subtitle in the same folder as the video file. Player looks good though.. I really like the subtitle direct download feature.

  10. Trevor Bekolay


    One of SMPlayer’s features is good subtitle support — so subtitles should work fine. I have had the problem that you’re talking about though, where MPlayer will crash and the log basically stops while reading fonts. After trying to open various files the problems seems to fix itself, but I’ll be posting a better solution to this problem soon.

    For now, you can work around this by going to the “Advanced” section of the preferences (Ctrl+P), then the “Options for MPlayer” tab and entering “-nofontconfig” in the Options field. This might turn off subtitles though — I have to do a bit more testing to get it to not crash but still display subtitles. Once I figure it out I’ll make a post about it.

  11. Vijay

    Thanks i’ll try that. Kudos to u for ur prompt response..

  12. Jean-Michel

    I use both KMPlayer and SMPlayer. I haven’t use VLC and MPlayer for a while.
    The xxPlayer are so far ahead others!

    I’ve a slighty preference for KMPlayer for its more advanced options. But SMPlayer suits better for a non geek user :)

  13. (O)fer

    i used to use KMPlayer, but that i started to use SPlayer (not SMPlayer!) wich automaticaly playback HD videos with hardware acceleration. Does SMPlayer have this function too?

  14. vagablonde

    I used VLC for some years..and moreso recently found it slow
    I tried smplayer..and was surprised how much more it could do and faster then VLC
    it does take some time figuring out the way to set it all up
    plays taps for my VLC

  15. PReP

    I use Mplayer (and smplayer which is actually a frontend to mplayer).

    All those “i use vlc for this/more advanced settings” are things that mplayer (thus also smplayer)
    can do. though not everything in the gui/frontend.
    Read the mplayer manual and start tweaking out the mplayer/config file, and you will see.

    There is not much that has as many billions of settings as mplayer imo ;)

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