Configuring and using SMPlayer

SMPlayer is a QT front-end for MPlayer and my favorite video player. Cross-platform, it is available for Linux and Windows. Although it uses QT, it is not a KDE application and does not drag in KDE dependencies.

These notes refer to SMPlayer 0.8.6 for Linux and Windows, and were last revised 20 January 2014.

Download SMPlayer from the project site and install it in the usual manner. Multiple packages are available; for most people, the webdl package is most appropriate. Once installed, I set the hidden attribute on the %systemdrive%\Users\USER\.smplayer\ directory.

Once installed, the Windows installer will offer to launch SMPlayer. Version 0.8.6 will launch SMPlayer as the same administrative user that ran the installer, not as your regular non-privileged user. So do not accept this offer. Instead, close the installer and launch SMPlayer normally from the menu.

You should usually use your distribution’s package manager. If your distro’s package manager doesn’t have SMPlayer, see the project site’s download page above.

Open the preferences (Options – Preferences) and configure as desired. Non-default settings I like include:

  • General – General: Pause when minimized: Disable.
  • General – Video: Deinterlace by default: Lowpass5
  • General – Preferred audio and subtitles – Audio: I leave this blank, because I prefer to hear the original audio and use subtitles.
  • General – Preferred audio and subtitles – Subtitles: Your preferred language. For me, that would be en|eng.
  • Drives – Drive selection: Per your hardware (on Linux, this is often /dev/cdrom and /dev/dvd).
  • Drives – Enable DVD menus: Begin with menus disabled, then experiment to see if this feature works for you. For me, on some installations it does, but on other installations it breaks playback of commercial DVDs.
  • Interface – Seeking – Behavior of time slider: Seek to position while dragging.
  • Playlist – Save copy of playlist on exit: Disable.

Since SMPlayer is a frontend to MPlayer, the first thing I do when debugging a problem is confirm that the problem does not originate with MPlayer. Open a terminal and see if the problem persists with mplayer /path/to/file  (for a local file) or mplayer dvd:// (for a commercial DVD).

On Mandriva 2008.1, SMPlayer failed to work out of the box. I opened the preferences. In General – General, I set audio to ALSA. In General – Audio, I set “High speed playback without altering pitch” to No. After clicking OK, SMPlayer worked.

One set of subtitles silently failed to load; investigating I noticed they were encoded as UTF-16. Re-encoding the subtitles file as ISO-8859-15 resolved the issue. (Gedit is good for re-encoding text files.)

Once, subtitles stopped displaying. The solution was to re-enable subtitles (Subtitles – Subtitle visibility) on the application menu.

SMPlayer uses the same keybindings as MPlayer. Some commonly used ones are:

  • F: Toggle fullscreen
  • period key: Pause and advance one frame
  • space bar: Toggle pause
  • + / -: Adjust audio delay by +/- 0.1 second
  • Z / X: Adjust subtitle delay by +/- 0.1 second
  • left / right arrow: Seek backward/forward 10 seconds
  • up / down arrow: Seek backward/forward 1 minute
  • page up / down: Seek backward/forward 10 minutes
  • < / >: Move backward/forward in playlist

Is SMPlayer not what you’re looking for? There are many other video players available for Linux.


About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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4 Responses to Configuring and using SMPlayer

  1. Pingback: Using HandBrake | A maze of twisty little passages

  2. Pingback: Video players for Linux | A maze of twisty little passages

  3. Pingback: Performance tuning on Windows | A maze of twisty little passages

  4. Pingback: Software I commonly install and remove | A maze of twisty little passages

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