Many recordings have black bars either on top and bottom or at the left and right side due to the various aspect ratios used, resulting in a 4:3 coded 16:9 movie showing black borders on all four sides in fullscreen mode on a 16:9 monitor (top and bottom because of the movie, left and right because VLC doesn't know they are superflous and that 4:3 has to be fit on the 16:9 screen). Cropping the black bars with AviDemux would require a recoding.

Is it possible instead to let VLC display only the borderless part of the video?

I.e. somehow provide a config file or initially choose a "zoom" section.

Bonus question: I'll award a bounty of 100 rep for any automatic on-the-fly border detection and removal solution, be it VLC or other means, as long as it's free.


If you press C it will toggle through the crop ratios and may help you with eliminating the black bars.

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Well, I should have checked VLC's Video menu as I did while posting this question... There's the crop to 16:9 option I was looking for... Anyway, if you find an automatic cropping estimation method, the bounty will still be there.

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  • 1
    +1 for posting the solution as an Answer, and also especially for leaving the bounty in tact. – Randolf Richardson Sep 16 '11 at 20:51

Simply go to VLC Player preferences > Video (you must be in "All" mode, not "Simple" mode). On the right-hand side, scroll down to "Video cropping" and type in either "16:10", "16:9", or "4:3", depending on what your screen's aspect ratio is. Press the Save button at the bottom.

If black lines remain, then they are actually part of the video as opposed to just an empty section of the screen. In this case, adjusting manually is the only logical option left.

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  • Interesting setting, thanks! Though this means that e.g. a truly 4:3 video played on a 16:9 screen will always get top and bottom cut off. Unless there is a way for VLC to detect the presence of black borders to cut off I'll stick with manually setting this. – Tobias Kienzler Aug 10 '13 at 6:15

Select 'tools', go to preferences, select 'Crop', and control the width and height of the frame until the bars are gone.

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  • With the hotkeys this is even more direct applied when playing: <alt>+key where key is: r, d, c or f to crop one pixel from the top, left, bottom or right. Add shift to uncrop. Use z and <shift>+z to zoom in and out. This should give you the necessary controls. – agtoever Feb 12 '18 at 18:05
  • I do a z and VLC says it is zooming in, but there's no change in the picture?? – tbone Mar 10 '18 at 23:03

MadVR renderer (works with MPC:HC, included in the K-Lite suite) has an option to automatically detect and crop hardcoded black bars on-the-fly, so it works with movies that change aspect ratio during their course. Beware though, since it is not a simple crop based on preset height/width, it has higher resource requirements.

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On Mac pressing Option+I auto crops black bars. The shortcut is actually pixel by pixel removal from top, but newest VLC autocrops the full video. Works brilliantly.

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