How to Play H.264 File in VLC
Security Guide

How to Play H.264 File in VLC: Easy & Simple Guide That Works

“I want to play h.264 file in VLC. some people suggested me to make changes in .x264 video codec, still, it is not working. Anyone has ideas about how to play h.264 file with VLC?”

“I try to open h264 files that I got from an IP camera on VLC. Files name is < >.h264. Please give me some instructions on how to make it work.”

If you also wonder how to use VLC to play H.264 codec files from your CCTV cameras or DVR/NVR security systems, or want to convert h264 files to mp4 format, keep reading!

Part 1: What Is an H.264 File

Before we tap on the detailed steps about how to play H.264 on the VLC media player, let’s first figure out what an H.264 file is.

Simply put, an H.264 file is a video file encoded with H.264 compression, which can provide high-quality videos in relatively lower bitrates.

Due to a high compression rate, H.264 codec is widely used in the AVCHD camcorders, HDTV, Blu-ray, and HD DVD.

Part 2: How to Play H.264 Files on VLC

So if you have the CCTV camera footage that is in .h264 format, how can you play the H.264 videos in VLC player via Windows 7/10 or Mac?

Taking ZOSI security cameras with very old firmware for example, below are the step-by-step guide (with videos) for you to stream H.264 codec videos on VLC layer.

Step 1: Download the latest VLC version here to get prepared.

Step 2: Launch VLC media player and click “Preferences” under the “Tools” menu.

Step 3: Hit “All” to show all settings, and select “H264 video demuxer” from “Input/Codecs” > “Demuxers” > “Demux module”, next click the “Save” button.

Step 4: Now you can open and view the H.264 files in VLC media player.


Part 3: How to Convert H.264 Files to MP4 Supported by VLC

Another effective method to play H.264 videos on VLC is to convert H.264 files to MP4 format first, and then play your CCTV security camera videos on the VLC media player.

Important Note: If you buy ZOSI security cameras and systems with the latest firmware versions, the video files will be in .mp4 format. So you don’t need to go through the trouble to convert H.264 files to MP4 online.

Here are the simple steps to convert H.264 files to MP4:

Step 1: Download a free H.264 codec file converter for VLC player, such as VSDC Video Converter.

Step 2: Click “Add files” to open the H.264 files you need to convert.

Step 3: Choose “MP4” as the video format you want to convert to.

Step 4: Convert your H.264 files to MP4 and click “save”.

After you successfully convert the H.264 files to MP4 format, you will be able to play and view the videos in VLC.


Part 4: Troubleshooting Tips for VLC Not Playing H.264 Files

“I have a CCTV camera footage that is in .h264 format. The h.264 files not playing in VLC because of some issues. Kindly pls help me out to play this video.”

“When I download my security camera video files, it comes in a .264 file but I can’t seem to find any video players that can play the .264 file type. VLC could not decode the format h264 either.”

In the unfortunate case that the VLC media player doesn’t play H.264 codec videos, try out the following troubleshooting tips to fix your issues:

  • Upgrade your VLC media player to the latest version and update VLC codecs.
  • Force H.264 demuxer in VLC preferences: Tools > Preferences > Show settings = All > Input/Codecs \ Demuxers: Demux module [H264 video demuxer].
  • Convert H.264 files to VLC supported codec, like the MP4 format mentioned above. If the VLC won’t play after the conversion, download the H.264 plugin as well.
  • Rename the file extension to .mpg and try playing it in VLC to see if it works.

If you have any more questions about how to play or open H.264 format videos in VLC or your VLC won’t play H.264 files, please feel free to leave your comment below and we’d love to help.