Stream your media to wherever you are

If you're serious about viewing media on your laptop on a regular basis then you'll need to download the open source VLC Media Player for free. Not only is this the fastest, most lightweight media player you'll find, but it also has its codecs built in, so it plays just about everything – even files that are damaged or incomplete – without any hassle.

It can handle DVDs, audio CDs, web streams, Flash video and much more besides. There are also various skins available to download so you can choose a look that suits your preferences.

1. Keep a local copy

step 1 vlc

If you want to keep a local copy of a streaming video file, VLC Media Player can usually help. First, though, you'll need the URL of the media. This may be obvious in the link if it uses a streaming protocol such as 'mms://', 'rtsp://' or 'rtp://'. Otherwise, play the file in Internet Explorer, right-click the display, select 'Properties' and copy the 'Location' address to the clipboard.

2. Choose a profile

step 2 vlc

Launch VLC Media Player, select 'Media | Convert/Save' and click the 'Network' tab. Then paste the Location address into the 'Network URL' box, check 'Show more options' and click 'Convert/ Save'. Now enter a name for the file that you'd like to save and check 'Display the output'. Choose a profile that matches the type of video you want to create, and then click 'Start' to save it.