VLC 2.x Mac Stutter – the fix

Note: This is for VLC 2.x – if you’re using the older VLC 1.x see the original post here: https://mattgadient.com/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.


18 Comments | Leave a Comment

 Sort by Oldest | Sort by Newest
  1. Diogo Costa on September 9, 2012 - click here to reply
    It was great coming across your 'fix' for the stutter problem. Thank you very much. I will try it at 4000, because on my version, the top is 6000 (you put yours at 9000), I can't figure this out because your instructions are very precise, and I have VLC 2.0.3. This (stutter, or occasional freezing) does not happen very often, and does not necessarily last throughout the movie (I prefer a regular problem that persists!). Please get back to me if you can,
    best regards Diogo
    • Matt Gadient on September 9, 2012 - click here to reply

      You should be able to manually type in a higher value (don't rely on the slider).

      As to the stutter you're seeing, if you aren't playing from over the network, try bumping up the other cache values (disk & file).
  2. Bubba X on September 26, 2014 - click here to reply
    Thanks for doing these instructions. It definitely made it easy to find the cache settings; without your write-up, who knows how long it would've taken me to find it, ha!
  3. ric on January 10, 2015 - click here to reply
    Worked like a charm. Thanks
  4. J on January 12, 2015 - click here to reply
    Thanks for sharing this updated version for where to find the network cache on newer versions of VLC. Worked perfectly.
  5. M on January 24, 2015 - click here to reply
    Thanks for the how-to.
    I'm only experiencing this problem when streaming from my Qnap.
    Local video files play without a problem.
    As an alternative to VLC i've used XBMC/Kodi, which works flawlessly.
  6. Anonymous on October 7, 2015 - click here to reply
    I couldn't find this info ANYWHERE else. I'm trying to watch a stream of a live broadcast and it still pauses/reloads but this helped some. Wish i could buffer several minutes.
  7. Phil on December 17, 2015 - click here to reply
    I have to be honest - on version 2.2.1 on a Mac this doesn't help. I still get the intermittent 'white outs' and corruption until another pframe is found in the stream. It then works for a while and micr-pauses, corrupts and repeats. Local is fine but sharing over an Airport Time Capsule router (802.11ac performance proven!) this still happens.

    I too have very sadly moved away from VLC for viewing and now use Kodi. Such a shame.
    • Maria McK on December 9, 2017 - click here to reply
      I used it on 2.1.1 and it worked!
      • NIcole on December 9, 2017 - click here to reply
        I am using Version 2.2.6 Umbrella (Intel 64bit). I bumped up the file, disc and network caching to 9000, though I rpobably don't need the network caching as I am watching a dl file. It's worked a treat. THANK YOU. I was searching all these other fixes and nothing like this came up. Your explanation and description was so simple to follow. Great resource! I hope others can find this!!
  8. purnnamu on January 22, 2016 - click here to reply
    It works great for me. My environment is OSX 10.11.3 and VLC 2.2.1. I am using 3000 instead of 9000 because smaller value means shorter latency for stop/resume.
  9. David on January 30, 2016 - click here to reply
    Thank you SO MUCH!!!!!

    I had a seriously hard time finding how to fix the sound choppiness, reading through so many irrelevant posts about display mirroring and using airplay for Apple TV - huge waste of my time but then I finally found this page!

    And for me, THIS WAS IT! I increased from 1000 to 4000 and all my sound problems disappeared, so thank you again, you are AWESOME!

    Macbook pro, OS 10.10.5, VLC 2.2.1
  10. iPad Guy on February 9, 2016 - click here to reply
    Thanks for the information!

    I have found that adding the "noatime" option to the smbfs mount command also helps, immensely.

    -Patrick A. Levell
  11. Maria McK on December 9, 2017 - click here to reply
    Thank you very much. I was very much puzzled with my VLC performing so poorly via AirPlay and I didn't want to use iTunes. Your fix really helped me, thank you very much!
  12. Gourav G on April 12, 2018 - click here to reply
    thanks a lot mate !
  13. Lloyd Moondog on April 11, 2020 - click here to reply
    I have problems playing videos in any player, not just VLC. Picture freezes or starts running slow while the audio is fine. In Elmeda, JustPlay, IINA and others. I have a 2008 MacBook that until recently was playing these files just fine. I have tried using an old version of VLC and its the same. I've updated everything and it still fails.
    • Hey Lloyd, an innumerable amount of possibilities here, but a few off the top of my head, assuming these are local videos that no longer play and not specific to videos over the network:
      • Overheating: If the fan died or heatsink is full of dust, you'd probably get a situation where video plays fine the first few seconds (or after being paused) but performance falls apart quickly thereafter.
      • Malware/etc pegging CPU usage: Open Activity Monitor and sort by %CPU. You can also use the menu to configure it to show usage visually in the dock. If the CPU usage is constantly high when the system is idle (and pegged when playing a video) that could be worth investigating.
      • Spectre/Meltdown/etc patches: If this is a late-2008 model (running Mavericks/El Capitan), the patches put out to mitigate Intel vulnerabilities may have tanked performance enough to cause video playback to suffer on these older/weaker models. Probably little you could do here except to reinstall and not allow security updates which obviously wouldn't be ideal. While I mentioned Mavericks/El Capitan, it's possible that Apple may have backported patches even further (SL/Lion/ML/etc) in which case it might apply to all the pre-late-2008 models.
      • Possible hard drive issue, though since the entire system presumably hasn't started having massive issues, I would only expect this to affect certain files so it wouldn't be on the top of my list of suspects.
      One of the challenges in diagnosing this is that being an older model it doesn't have hardware H264/etc video decode, so videos really take up a chunk of CPU usage and thus anything that competes with or interferes with the video for CPU is going to have a high chance of causing problems. If it were me, I'd:
      1. Try to find a low resolution video (less than say... 640x480) or encode one via Handbrake. The smaller the resolution the better. Then play it back while watching CPU usage in Activity Monitor. If CPU usage is low yet it still freezes/stutters then it's a good sign it's not because the CPU is being pushed too far.
      2. Try a Ubuntu Live DVD/USB and play a video through it just to see if things improve there. If it does that points to either an OS or software issue, in which case you could either look at reinstalling OS X to see if it rectifies the situation, or consider switching to a Linux distro.
      Good luck!
  14. John on August 19, 2020 - click here to reply
    I have VLC running on a MAC mini (2020). We use it to run a constant video feed 24-7 it runs great all day, but when I come in to the office in the AM it's frozen, not responding. I increased the file/disk cache to 10000/60000 it was set at 300/60000, I don't know why it was set so low. I think after a long days work it slows down and 300ms wasn't enough to keep it rolling properly. I'll post my results next week with details.

Leave a Comment

You can use an alias and fake email. However, if you choose to use a real email, "gravatars" are supported. You can check the privacy policy for more details.