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Media players: who needs another one right?
Well,  it comes down to choice. A box of chocolates (oh dear here I go with analogies…) would be boring if each individual sweet tasted the same as the next. And that’s sort of the case with desktop applications: you need to try a few rubbish ones before you hit upon the one you really like.
And that’s where todays choice – UMPlayer – comes in.


UMplayer – which stands for universal multimedia player – is a cross-platform fork of popular Qt media player Smplayer, which in turn is based on MPlayer.
But before you go thinking it’s simply a rebranded, repackaged clone, don’t. UMPlayer has some super cool features baked into it that might just make it a prime candidate for your default media player.

YouTube playback

One of the ‘unique’ features present in UMPlayer is the ability to search and play YouTube videos.

The search box is present in the main screen at all times, whilst search results present themselves in a small popup window.
Rather neatly you can set the default playback quality for YouTube video – anywhere from 360p to full 1080p – as well as choosing a quality and file format for recording flash Videos. This is all configurable via the ‘preferences’ menu.


I generally like applications to "match" my default theme – usually ‘Ambiance’. UMPlayer doesn’t do that. In fact the default ‘theme’ of  UMPlayer leaves  a lot – and I mean a lot – to be desired: -
Thankfully the inclusion of some slick application skins more than makes up for it.
My favourite is the ‘Modern’ skin which is used in most of the screenshots on this page. It also has one of the nicest OSD control bars I’ve ever seen on a Linux media player: -
For the full bling-factor enable the ‘Animation’ setting in UMPLayer via ‘Preferences > Interface > Floating Control’.


As someone who relies on subtitles when watching a lot of non-English language TV shows and movies, I really appreciate  the built-in subtitles search n’ downloader.
Subtitles font, size and colour are also configurable via the ‘Preferences’ dialog.
Options for subtitle delay – useful for when things go out of sync – can be accessed via the ‘Subtitles’ menu in the application menu bar.

Playback bonanza

UMPlayer comes, by default, with over 270 built-in audio and video codecs so it should be able to play most formats that you chuck at it, including but not limited to standards like AVI, DIVX, FLV and MOV but Matroska, WMV, RealMedia, AAC and more.
Other features
UMPlayer boasts much, much more.
  • Choose specific video and audio outputs
  • Apply ‘real time’ audio and video filters and effects
  • Force aspect ratio
  • Select audio track
  • Playlist
  • MPlayer ‘pass’ options
  • Configurable mouse and keyboard functions
For a full list of what UMPlayer can do head to
Like a lot of media players available on Linux – barring VLC – UMplayer lacks comprehensive DVD menu navigation support. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Unlike the Windows and OS X versions, the Linux build of UMPlayer also lacks CPU optimization. This is a shame, but not likely to be a major issue for many.


UMPlayer 0.95 is available to install from the Ubuntu 11.04 repository
Easy-to-install .DEB installers for Ubuntu 10.04, 10.10 and 11.04 are also available from the projects’ official development page: -