How to Solve VLC Unable to Open MRL Files Error: Causes and Solutions


By Jack Lin

Update on

VLC is Unable to Open the MRL

There is no doubt that VLC is one of the most prominent media players today. However, the company is yet to solve an important mystery – VLC is unable to open the MRL files.

In most cases, this error occurs because VLC is unable to find the target media file within your computer system. However, there are also some lesser-known other factors.

Most people who want to know how to solve the VLC cannot open the MRL files error. Here, let’s explain in detail why this particular problem occurs and also provide the right solutions.

Why Does the VLC Unable to Open the MRL Files Error Occur?

There may be occasions when the VLC player is unable to read the DVDs, particularly if you are using an external device for the same. In such cases, you will see the VLC is unable to open the MRL file error.

This problem typically occurs because of your firewall, particularly if you make use of a third-party antivirus tool. In such cases, the external DVD player will be red-flagged, and the VLC player will not be able to read the disk.

To counter this error, you can try turning off the firewall program; as a result, this will remove the error from your DVD drives. Since each antivirus program differs from one another, it is recommended that you first understand what antivirus program you are using and disable the firewall accordingly.

If this method does not work out, you may have to completely remove the antivirus program from your computer. Or, you could try uninstalling and reinstalling VLC on your computer.

PS: here are the best VLC alternative tools and the different functions of firewalls you should know.

How Can You Disable the Firewall of Windows Defender?

Windows Defender is the default antivirus program in Windows systems. If you see the VLC is unable to open the MRL file error, you will likely have to disable the Firewall of Windows Defender.

Let us learn the steps of doing so:

1. Click on the Start option of your Windows computer system.

2. Head over to the Settings option and click on it.

Windows Settings

3. Here, head over to Update & Security and tap on it.

Windows Update & Security

4. Here, click on the Windows Security option.

5. Scroll down and tap on the Firewall and Network Protection.

Firewall & network protection

6. Select any Network Profile.

Select any Network Profile

7. On the next page, toggle off the Firewall to switch it off.

Turn off firewall to Fix VLC is unable to open the MRL

However, you should also remember that disabling your firewall means your computer is now vulnerable to cyber-attacks like hacking and/or malware. Hence, it is suggested that you try this method as the last-ditch option.

If You Want to Leave Your VLC Program As an Exception, Here Are the Steps to Help You Do So:

1. In the previous steps, start from Step 5.

2. Select any Network Profile.

Select any Network Profile

3. Instead of disabling the firewall, you need to scroll down and tap on the ‘Allow An App Through Firewall’ option.

Allow An App Through Firewall

4. Next, you need to tap on the Change Settings option.

Change Settings

5. In the list of programs you see on the next page, you need to look for the VLC program and tick on it.

6. You then have to select the type of network so that the program can access the networks.

Allow VLC access public internet to fix VLC is unable to open the MRL

7. Finalize the changes and save all your settings.

save all your settings

Even though the VLC cannot open the MRL file, the error may not happen because of your firewall; it is recommended that you memorize these steps to deal with any other problem related to Windows Defender.

On the other hand, it is okay if you do not want to disable the firewall for security. Let us learn how you can do so.

Claim the Ownership of the File

If there is a file that is unable to open on your VLC player, you can claim its ownership. Doing so will ensure your system that the particular file is not a threat, and you will not see the VLC is unable to open the MRL file error.

Let us learn how you can do so:

1. Look and right-click on the file you want to claim ownership of.

2. On the drop-down menu, you need to select Properties.

Folder Properties

3. On the next windows, you will see the Properties; here, you need to tap on Security.

Folder Security

4. Here, click on the Advanced button; this will open a new menu.

Advanced on Security Properties

5. On the top of the windows, you will find the ‘Change’ button; click on it.

Change Advanced Security Settings

6. On the third text box, you need to type in Administrator and click on OK.

type in Administrator and click on OK

7. Tick on the Replace all child object permission entries with inheritable permission entries from this object option and click on Apply.

Change the File Ownership to Fix VLC is unable to open the MRL

8. Once done, you can try reopening the media file.

And now, you will be able to play any media file without switching off your firewall.

Solving the VLC is Unable to Open the MRL File Error on macOS

Windows users are not the only people that face this VLC and is unable to open the MRL file error. This same problem occurs in macOS as well. However, the reason behind the problem again can be an overzealous firewall.

In such cases, you can try to disable the firewall of your Mac system or even remove the antivirus program from your system.

Let us learn how you can disable the firewall on your Mac.

1. Tap on the Apple icon on the taskbar.

2. On the menu, you will find System Preferences; click on it.

System Preferences on macOS

3. Next, you need to hover the mouse on ‘View’ and tap on ‘Security & Privacy.’

System Preferences -> View -> Security

4. You need to tap on the Firewall tab.

Security & Privacy -> Firewall

5. Look for the option ‘Turn Off Firewall’ and click on it.

Turn off Firewall on macOS

6. Once done, the macOS will notify you that the firewall is now switched off.

Turn off firewall on macOS to Fix VLC is unable to open the MRL

7. Tap on the Save button and try to reopen the media file again.

Alternatively, you can also configure your firewall to add VLC as an exception.

Other Ways to Solve VLC is Unable to Open the MRL File Error

As mentioned previously, you may see that the VLC cannot open the MRL file error because of the media files that are saved in your system.

Now, there are many reasons why it can take place. Let us look into how you can deal with these problems:

Claim the File’s Ownership

As we have talked about earlier, one of the most effective ways to deal with the VLC being unable to open the MRL file error is by claiming ownership of the file. All you need to do here is follow the steps mentioned above.

Uninstalling and Reinstalling the VLC Program

In most cases, people tend to forget to update their VLC programs and keep using outdated versions.

At times, the VLC cannot open the MRL file error can occur if you are using the older version of the VLC player. As such, you will have to uninstall the older version and reinstall an updated one.

1. On your Windows system, head over to the Settings option.

2. Look for and click on the Apps option in the next window.

Apps on Windows

3. Keep looking for VLC Media Player and tap on it.

Uninstall VLC Media Player

4. Following the rest of the on-screen instructions, you will uninstall VLC from your computer.

Uninstall VLC

5. Next, you need to head over to the official VLC website.

6. Here, find the program’s latest version and download it.

Download VLC Lastest version

7. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the program on your computer.

Install VLC

8. Start the VLC player and try running the file once again.

Run VLC media player

Disabling the Firewalls

As mentioned previously, it is possible that your antivirus program is not allowing you to open the media file on the VLC player.

After you have managed to disable the firewall, you should be able to eliminate this VLC that is unable to open the MRL file error.

All the steps on how to do so are mentioned in the previous sections for both Windows and macOS.

Removing the VLC is Unable to Open the MRL File Error on YouTube

There are a handful of people that make use of VLC players to view YouTube videos. However, Google does everything in its power to prevent this problem.

Therefore, it is not easy to do so. Thankfully, the developers of VLC have come up with a few viable solutions that can help you prevent the VLC is unable to open the MRL file error.

You will have to download a .lua file to watch YouTube videos on the VLC player. In most cases, you can solve the problem simply by renaming the format. Let us learn how you can do so:

1. The first step here is to download the .lua file.

download the .lua file

2. Rename the downloaded file – for example, youtube.luac and copy the file.

Copy youtube.luac

3. Head over to the lua folder, the directory where VLC is installed.

Head over to the lua folder

4. You need to open the Playlist within the Lua folder.

open the Playlist within the Lua folder

5. Drag or paste the original file into this playlist folder.

Paste youtube.luac files into playlist folder

6. Start the VLC media player.

Run VLC media player


Q1: Can I fix the “VLC Unable to Open MRL Files” error by reinstalling VLC? A: Reinstalling VLC can sometimes help resolve certain software-related issues, including errors related to MRL files. However, before reinstalling, it is recommended to update VLC to the latest version and check the integrity of the MRL files.

Q2: Why does VLC fail to open MRL files even after updating the software? A: If VLC still encounters issues with MRL files after updating, there may be other factors at play. Check for any corrupt or missing MRL files, adjust firewall and security settings, and ensure a stable network connection.

Q3: Can I use VLC to play MRL files stored on my local network or external storage devices? A: Yes, VLC Media Player is capable of playing MRL files stored on your local network or external storage devices. Ensure that the MRL files are accessible and properly configured within VLC.

Q4: Is it possible to convert MRL files to a different format compatible with other media players? A: MRL files themselves are not typically converted to different formats since they are not media files but rather references to media resources. To play media content with other players, you would need to ensure compatibility with the actual media files being referenced by the MRL.

Q5: Where can I download alternative media players mentioned in the article? A: You can find alternative media players like MPC-HC, PotPlayer, and Kodi on their respective official websites. Perform a web search using the player’s name, and you should easily locate their official download pages.

Final Thoughts  

As you can see, the VLC is unable to open the MRL file error is quite common; you do not have to worry about anything.

With the help of these tips, you should be able to counter this file error with minimum hassles.


10 years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.