Note: This is for VLC 2.x – if you’re using the older VLC 1.x see the original post here: http://mattgadient.com/2009/08/29/vlc-mac-stutter-the-fix/
Short version: If you’re playing videos through VLC across the network, and if the video you’re trying to play is coming from a Windows share, it will make VLC on the Mac a little sad. And then it stutters/lags/gets_choppy/whatever_you_wanna_call_it. A slightly more detailed (and technical – your Mac isn’t “crying on the inside” by any means) description is in the link above if you’re at all interested.
The solution is to bump up the “network cache” value in VLC. However, the location moved when VLC 2.0 came about.
The good news is that it’s much easier to find than it was before. The bad news is that not everyone was finding it, so here goes:
You start by going to VLC/Preferences in the top menu bar.
Click for a larger view. With the preference pane open, hit Show All as seen in the image above.
Again, click for a larger view. Input/codecs should already be selected on the left, so scroll down almost all the way and you should eventually see the Network caching (ms) section.
In the example above, I used a value of 9000. This should take care of video stutters of up to roughly 9 seconds. Feel free to tweak the value to take care of whatever freezes/stutters you were seeing – for example if you’d get stutters of up to 4 seconds, make sure you’re using a value of at least 4000.
It’s worth noting that there are additional caching values which may be useful, particularly if your hard drive is having trouble keeping up with the local videos you’re playing for whatever reason (for instance, if you’re doing something disk-intensive in the background). If you have a habit of pausing a video & coming back hours later only to have the video freeze as the hard drive spins up, the file/disk cache settings should help there as well, though you’d probably have to use fairly large values in that case.