6597998 Sep 21, 2017
@rrooij @haasn @DanOscarsson @jetomit @medhefgo
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mpv is based on mplayer2, which in turn is based on the original MPlayer (also called mplayer, mplayer-svn, mplayer1). Many changes have been made, a large part of which is incompatible or completely changes how the player behaves. Although there are still many similarities to its ancestors, mpv should generally be treated as a completely different program.


This document is not updated anymore, and is incomplete and outdated. If you look for old option replacements, always check with the current mpv manpage, as the options could have changed meanwhile.

General Changes from MPlayer to mpv

This listing is about changes introduced by mplayer2 and mpv relatively to MPlayer.


  • New name for the binary (mpv). New location for config files (either ~/.config/mpv/mpv.conf, or if you want, ~/.mpv/config).
  • Encoding functionality (replacement for MEncoder, see the `ENCODING`_ section).
  • Support for Lua scripting (see the `LUA SCRIPTING`_ section).
  • Better pause handling (e.g. do not unpause on a command).
  • Precise seeking support.
  • Improvements in audio/video sync handling.
  • Do not lose settings when playing a new file in the same player instance.
  • Slave mode compatibility broken (see below).
  • Re-enable screensaver while the player is paused.
  • Allow resuming playback at a later point with Shift+q, also see the quit-watch-later input command.
  • --keep-open option to stop the player from closing the window and exiting after playback ends.
  • A client API, that allows embedding mpv into applications (see libmpv/client.h in the sources).


  • Improved default keybindings. MPlayer bindings are also available (see etc/mplayer-input.conf in the source tree).
  • Improved responsiveness on user input.
  • Support for modifier keys (alt, shift, ctrl) in input.conf.
  • Allow customizing whether a key binding for seeking shows the video time, the OSD bar, or nothing (see the `Input Command Prefixes`_ section).
  • Support mapping multiple commands to one key.
  • Classic LIRC support was removed. Install remotes as input devices instead. This way they will send X11 key events to the mpv window, which can be bound using the normal input.conf. Also see:
  • Joystick support was removed. It was considered useless and was the cause of some problems (e.g. a laptop's accelerator being recognized as joystick).
  • Support for relative seeking by percentage.


  • Support for gapless audio (see the --gapless-audio option).
  • Support for OSS4 volume control.
  • Improved support for PulseAudio.
  • Make --softvol default (mpv is not a mixer control panel).
  • By default, do pitch correction if playback speed is increased.
  • Improved downmixing and output of surround audio:
    • Instead of using hardcoded pan filters to do remixing, libavresample is used
    • Channel maps are used to identify the channel layout, so e.g. 3.0 and 2.1 audio can be distinguished.


  • Wayland support.

  • Native support for VAAPI and VDA. Improved VDPAU video output.

  • Improved GPU-accelerated video output (see the gpu-hq preset).

  • Make hardware decoding work with the gpu video output.

  • Support for libavfilter (for video->video and audio->audio). This allows using most of FFmpeg's filters, which improve greatly on the old MPlayer filters in features, performance, and correctness.

  • More correct color reproduction (color matrix generation), including support for BT.2020 (Ultra HD). linear XYZ (Digital Cinema) and SMPTE ST2084 (HDR) inputs.

  • Support for color managed displays, via ICC profiles.

  • High-quality image resamplers (see the --scale suboption).

  • Support for scaling in (sigmoidized) linear light.

  • Better subtitle rendering using libass by default.

  • Improvements when playing multiple files (-fixed-vo is default, do not reset settings by default when playing a new file).

  • Replace image video outputs (--vo=jpeg etc.) with --vo=image.

  • Removal of --vo=gif89a, --vo=md5sum, --vo=yuv4mpeg, as encoding can handle these use cases. For yuv4mpeg, for example, use:

    mpv input.mkv -o output.y4m --no-audio --oautofps --oneverdrop
  • Image subtitles (DVDs etc.) are rendered in color and use more correct positioning (color for image subs can be disabled with --sub-gray).

  • Support for the X11 video output is removed, since it was considered deprecated. SDL video output can still be used as a fallback.

OSD and terminal

  • Cleaned up terminal output: nicer status line, less useless noise.
  • Improved OSD rendering using libass, with full Unicode support.
  • New OSD bar with chapter marks. Not positioned in the middle of the video (this can be customized with the --osd-bar-align-y option).
  • Display list of chapters and audio/subtitle tracks on OSD (see the `Properties`_ section).


  • Instant screenshots without 1-frame delay.
  • Support for taking screenshots even with hardware decoding.
  • Support for saving screenshots as JPEG or PNG.
  • Support for configurable file names.
  • Support for taking screenshots with or without subtitles.

Note that the screenshot video filter is not needed anymore, and should not be put into the mpv config file.


  • Better MKV support (e.g. ordered chapters, 3D metadata).
  • Matroska edition switching at runtime.
  • Support for playing URLs of popular streaming sites directly. (e.g. mpv Requires a recent version of youtube-dl to be installed. Can be disabled with ytdl=no in the mpv config file.
  • Support for precise scrolling which scales the parameter of commands. If the input doesn't support precise scrolling the scale factor stays 1.
  • Allow changing/adjusting video filters at runtime. (This is also used to make the D key insert vf_yadif if deinterlacing is not supported otherwise).
  • Improved support for .cue files.

Mac OS X

  • Native OpenGL backend.
  • Cocoa event loop is independent from MPlayer's event loop, so user actions like accessing menus and live resizing do not block the playback.
  • Apple Remote support.
  • Media Keys support.
  • VDA support using libavcodec hwaccel API instead of FFmpeg's decoder with up to 2-2.5x reduction in CPU usage.


  • Improved support for Unicode file names.
  • Improved window handling.
  • Do not block playback when moving the window.
  • Improved Direct3D video output.
  • Added WASAPI audio output.

Internal changes

  • Switch to GPLv2+ (see Copyright file for details).
  • Removal of lots of cruft:
    • Internal GUI (replaced by the OSC, see the `ON SCREEN CONTROLLER`_ section).
    • MEncoder (replaced by native encoding, see the `ENCODING`_ section).
    • OSD menu.
    • Kernel video drivers for Linux 2.4 (including VIDIX).
    • Teletext support.
    • Support for dead platforms.
    • Most built-in demuxers have been replaced by their libavformat counterparts.
    • Built-in network support has been replaced by libavformat's (which also supports https URLs).
    • Embedded copies of libraries (such as FFmpeg).
  • General code cleanups (including refactoring or rewrites of many parts).
  • New build system.
  • Many bug fixes and removal of long-standing issues.
  • Generally preferring FFmpeg/Libav over internal demuxers, decoders, and filters.

Detailed Listing of User-visible Changes

This listing is about changed command line switches, slave commands, and similar things. Completely removed features are not listed.

Command Line Switches

  • There is a new command line syntax, which is generally preferred over the old syntax. -optname optvalue becomes --optname=optvalue.

    The old syntax will not be removed. However, the new syntax is mentioned in all documentation and so on, and unlike the old syntax is not ambiguous, so it is a good thing to know about this change.

  • In general, negating switches like -noopt now have to be written as -no-opt or --no-opt.

  • Per-file options are not the default anymore. You can explicitly specify file-local options. See Usage section.

  • Many options have been renamed, removed or changed semantics. Some options that are required for a good playback experience with MPlayer are now superfluous or even worse than the defaults, so make sure to read the manual before trying to use your existing configuration with mpv.

  • Table of renamed/replaced switches:




    --no-<opt> (add a dash)

    -a52drc level


    -ac spdifac3

    --ad=spdif:ac3 (see --ad=help)

    -af volnorm

    (removed; use acompressor ffmpeg filter instead)

    -afm hwac3


    -ao alsa:device=hw=0.3









    (removed; the main cache settings are used)




    --untimed (no stats)




    --audio-channels (changed semantics)












    (removed; always the default)












    --x11-netwm (changed semantics)




    (removed; use TOOLS/



    -lavdopts ...




    -loop 0



    AO suboptions (alsa, oss)


    AO suboptions (alsa, oss)






    --msg-level (changed semantics)
















    --video-zoom, --video-pan-x/y



    -pp ...



    (See FFmpeg libavfilter documentation.)

    -rawaudio ...


    -rawvideo ...








    -ssf <sub>

















    --sub-*, --osd-*















    -vc ffh264vdpau (etc.)



    --sub-file (pass the .idx file)

    -x W, -y H

    --geometry=WxH + --no-keepaspect


    --screen (different values)

    -xy W



    Inverse available as --video-unscaled




    dvd://0 (0-based offset)


-opt val becomes --opt=val.


Quite some video filters, video outputs, audio filters, audio outputs, had changes in their option parsing. These aren't mentioned in the table above.

Also, some video and audio filters have been removed, and you have to use libavfilter (using --vf=lavfi=[...] or --af=lavfi=[...]) to get them back.

input.conf and Slave Commands

  • Table of renamed input commands:

    This lists only commands that are not always gracefully handled by the internal legacy translation layer. If an input.conf contains any legacy commands, a warning will be printed when starting the player. The warnings also show the replacement commands.

    Properties containing _ to separate words use - instead.



    pt_step 1 [0|1]

    playlist-next [weak|force] (translation layer cannot deal with whitespace)

    pt_step -1 [0|1]

    playlist-prev [weak|force] (same)

    switch_ratio [<ratio>]

    set video-aspect <ratio>

    set video-aspect 0 (reset aspect)

    step_property_osd <prop> <step> <dir>

    cycle <prop> <step> (wraps), add <prop> <step> (clamps). <dir> parameter unsupported. Use a negative <step> instead.

    step_property <prop> <step> <dir>

    Prefix cycle or add with no-osd: no-osd cycle <prop> <step>

    osd_show_property_text <text>

    show-text <text> The property expansion format string syntax slightly changed.


    Now does the same as osd_show_property_text. Use the raw prefix to disable property expansion.


    show-text ${track-list}


    show-text ${chapter-list}

    af_switch, af_add, ...

    af set|add|...


    set tv-scan yes

    tv_set_channel <val>

    set tv-channel <val>


    cycle tv-channel

    dvb_set_channel <v1> <v2>

    set dvb-channel <v1>-<v2>


    cycle dvb-channel

    tv_set_freq <val>

    set tv-freq <val>


    cycle tv-freq

    tv_set_norm <norm>

    set tv-norm <norm>


    cycle tv-norm


    Due to lack of hardware and users using the TV/DVB/PVR features, and due to the need to cleanup the related command code, it's possible that the new commands are buggy or behave worse. This can be improved if testers are available. Otherwise, some of the TV code will be removed at some point.

Slave mode

  • Slave mode was removed. A proper slave mode application needed tons of code and hacks to get it right. The main problem is that slave mode is a bad and incomplete interface, and to get around that, applications parsed output messages intended for users. It is hard to know which messages exactly are parsed by slave mode applications. This makes it virtually impossible to improve terminal output intended for users without possibly breaking something.

    This is absolutely insane, and since initial improvements to mpv quickly made slave mode incompatible to most applications, it was removed as useless cruft. The client API (see below) is provided instead.

    --identify was replaced by the TOOLS/ wrapper script.

  • For some time (until including release 0.4.x), mpv supported a --slave-broken option. The following options are equivalent:

    --input-file=/dev/stdin --input-terminal=no

    Assuming the system supports /dev/stdin.

    (The option was added back in 0.5.1 and sets exactly these options. It was removed in 0.10.x again.)

  • A JSON RPC protocol giving access to the client API is also supported. See `JSON IPC`_ for more information.

  • mpv also provides a client API, which can be used to embed the player by loading it as shared library. (See libmpv/client.h in the sources.) It might also be possible to implement a custom slave mode-like protocol using Lua scripting.

Policy for Removed Features

mpv is in active development. If something is in the way of more important development (such as fixing bugs or implementing new features), we sometimes remove features. Usually this happens only with old features that either seem to be useless, or are not used by anyone. Often these are obscure, or "inherited", or were marked experimental, but never received any particular praise by any users.

Sometimes, features are replaced by something new. The new code will be either simpler or more powerful, but doesn't necessarily provide everything the old feature did.

We can not exclude that we accidentally remove features that are actually popular. Generally, we do not know how much a specific functionality is used. If you miss a feature and think it should be re-added, please open an issue on the mpv bug tracker. Hopefully, a solution can be found. Often, it turns out that re-adding something is not much of a problem, or that there are better alternatives.

Why this Fork?

mplayer2 is practically dead, and mpv started out as a branch containing new/experimental development. (Some of it was merged right after the fork was made public, seemingly as an acknowledgment that development, or at least merging, should have been more active.)

MPlayer is focused on not breaking anything, but is stuck with a horrible codebase resistant to cleanup. (Unless you do what mpv did - merciless and consequent pruning of bad, old code.) Cleanup and keeping broken things conflict, so the kind of development mpv strives for can't be done within MPlayer due to clashing development policies.

Additionally, mplayer2 already had lots of changes over MPlayer, which would have needed to be backported to the MPlayer codebase. This would not only have been hard (several years of diverging development), but also would have been impossible due to the aforementioned MPlayer development policy.