Fix: VLC is unable to open the MRL file

There’s one error with VLC that doesn’t seem to get fixed regardless of the build version. The “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error occurs when VLC player is trying to open a file or stream a movie that is physically located somewhere else than on the local computer. If VLC player can’t get hold of it for some reason or another, you’ll end up seeing the “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error.

While the error can be the result of an internal firewall roadblock of application error, it’s also likely that the fault is not with the application itself, but with the host of the content that is remotely located.

Since the error occurs when a remotely located content is not accessible for one reason or another, there are a series of steps that you can follow in order to pinpoint the source of the problem. If you’re seeing the “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error when you try to play a video or a stream, follow the steps down below to get the issue resolved. Below you have a collection of methods that other users have used in order to get the issue fixed. Please follow the methods in order until you stumble upon a fix that gets the issue resolved.

Method 1: Make sure that the source is working

Before you do anything else, it’s important to make sure that that the source you’re trying to access is actually working. Since the error mostly occurs with streams and other URL-based content, go to File > Open Network Stream and copy the URL that you’re trying to access from there.

Paste the URL into your browser (or another video player) and see if it begins playing. If the network URL doesn’t work in other applications, it’s very likely that the issue doesn’t lie with your VLP player version but with the source instead.

In the event that the source functions in your browser or in another media player, continue with the next methods below.

Method 2: Uninstall or Tweak your Firewall settings

The majority of occurrences with the “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error that are not the result of a broken source are actually caused by a firewall setting. Overprotective firewalls (especially 3rd party solutions) can end up blocking the necessary ports needed by VCL to stream the source successfully.

Of course, depending on your 3rd party firewall, the steps preventing your external antivirus from interfering with your content streaming will be different. If you’re using AVG, you can remedy this issue by going to Firewall > Tools / Firewall Settings, then select Applications from the left pane. Next, move over to the right pane and change the action assigned to the VLC media player to Allow for all.

Note: If you’re using a different antivirus, you’ll need to find specific steps related to the security suite that you’re using.

If you’re having trouble finding the equivalent steps for the 3rd party antivirus that you are using, a simpler solution would be to simply get rid of the 3rd party firewall and use the built-in solution. Windows Defender firewall is not known to cause conflicts with VLC like other 3rd party firewalls do. Here’s a quick guide on how to uninstall your 3rd party security suite and use the built-in firewall:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a dialog Run box. Next, type “appwiz.cpl” and press Enter to open up the Programs and Features window.
  2. In the Programs and Features window, scroll down through the application list and right-click > Uninstall on the 3rd-party firewall suite that you’re using.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to remove the external firewall from your system.
  4. Reboot your computer. At the next startup, Windows Defender firewall will enable itself automatically.
  5. Check if the issue has been resolved by opening VLC. If streaming external content triggers the same “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error, continue with the next method below.

Method 3: Uninstall VLC and install the latest version

The “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error might also be caused by an internal application error or glitch. Some users have managed to get the issue resolved after uninstalling VLC and installing the latest available build from the official website.

Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Open a new Run box by pressing Windows key + R. Next, type “appwiz.cpl” and hit Enter to open the Programs and Features window.
  2. In Programs and Features, scroll through the application list and locate VLC media player. Next, right-click on VLC media player and choose Uninstall/change.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompt to remove VCL media player from your system and restart your computer if prompted to do so.
    Note: For the best results, consider using Revo Uninstaller or iOBit Uninstaller to remove every trace of the old application.
  4. Visit this link (here) and download the latest version of VLC Media Player. Follow the on-screen prompts to install the newest version on your system and restart if needed.
  5. Once the application is installed, see if you are now able to stream content without the “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error. If the same error remains, continue down with the next method below.

Method 4: Claiming ownership of files

Some users report that they received the “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error when they tried to play certain files located on external storage drives or on removable external drives. Apparently, some users have been able to fix the issue by claiming ownership of the files that were opened with the “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error.

Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Right-click on the file that is opening with the error at hand and choose Properties.
  2. In the Properties menu, go to the Security tab an click on the Advanced button associated with Permissions.
  3. Click the Change button at the top (associated with Owner).
  4. In the next, box, type “Administrator” in the box associated with Enter the object name to select and hit OK.
  5. Next, check the box associated with Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object and click Apply.
  6. With the permission changed, see if you are able to open the files without the “VLC is unable to open the MRL” error.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Fix: VLC is unable to open the MRL file

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