updated 5/10/2012 7:21:49 PM ET 2012-05-10T23:21:49

With the ever-increasing amount of audio and video on the Web, practically every file seems to need a new program to play it: QuickTime for this one, Windows Media Player for that … Even if you have the correct player, you still may have to download a "codec" to decode a particular file type.

For those who are not all that computer-savvy, this gets quite confusing.

A company called Video Lan Organization has the answer to users' problems. Its VLC Media Player has been a sleeper hit for years and recently passed the 1 billion download mark.

VLC  — available for both Windows and Mac OS — aims to be the one stop for all your multimedia needs, becoming the default player for any type of media, whether it's a disc in your computer's DVD drive, a video stream over the Internet or a file on your computer.

This app shines in the number of formats it supports; Windows Media files, Real Video and Audio, MP3, Flash video, QuickTime, AVI, and MPG are just a few. From that list alone there are three applications — Windows Media Player, RealPlayer and Apple's QuickTime — that you will no longer need. VLC supports about a dozen other formats, and a full list is available on its website. But the great thing about VLC: You really won't have to worry about all that. As for those codecs? VLC says you'll rarely need to download one, since so many are already built in.

If you own an iPhone or iPad, be sure to download the VLC Streamer, too. (The free version has advertisements; you can get rid of them for $2.) This allows you to stream your content from your computer to your device – especially helpful considering Apple allows only a few file formats supported by its QuickTime to play on its mobiles.

With the app, you can cue up just about any video on your computer, then kick back in bed or on the couch to watch it on your handheld.

VLC Media Player is available as a free download from the company's website.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily


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