Here is a trick that will allow you to have two or more instances of VLC or Quicktime Player open, which can allow you to play more than one movie at the same time. This is useful if you are in an environment where you have an attached monitor and want to play one movie on one screen, and a second movie on a different screen. All running from the same Mac. This tip can also be used to play more than one movie or music file (or any media) at the same time. Useful if you want to watch a whole season of The Simpsons, but don’t have to time to watch them individually.
Opening Up More Than One Media Player
To be able to play more than one media file at a time, using the same app, we need to open more than one instance of the media player. I have tested this command with VLC and Quicktime Player, I assume that it will work with any other app as well. If you try double clicking on the app in Finder it will only open one copy. To get round this we are going to use Terminal and force it to open more than one version. Therefore, open Terminal located in Applications > Utilities and type the following:
open -n /Applications/VLC.app
and the following if you want to use Quicktime Player:
open -n /Applications/QuickTime\ Player.app
If you have your apps stored in a different location, all you have to do in Terminal is type
open -n and then drag and drop your app onto the Terminal window.
Simply repeat the command for every instance of the app you want open. If you need two media players, use the command twice. For quickly repeating previous commands in Terminal, press the up arrow to load in the previous command.
The final step is to load the file which you do the normal method. Either use the File > Open menu bar item or drag and drop the media onto the window. You have to keep track of which app you are using as there will be two or more instances of the app in the dock.
You can now play the files at the same time, in different or the same screen all day long. Useful if you Mac is connected to a media outlet in a shop or other venue.
Syncing File Start Times / Automatically Loading a Play List
If you want the media you have selected to start playing at the same time in each instance, or you want to automatically load a play list, you can do this in Terminal as well. You can also load the file to play from Terminal using the same method. Simply type the following:
open -na /Applications/VLC.app /path/to/playlist/or/media/file; open -na /Applications/VLC.app /second/instance/path/to/playlist/or/media/file;
The -n option loads the app, and the -a option ensures the play list file is opened with the app you have selected and not the default app. The repetition of the open command is split between the semi colon, which is defined as a new command in Terminal. Simply select the file you want to play or the playlist you have created. Note that you can use the first half of the command to open VLC and play the file. What actually goes on is Terminal opens one instance and begins playing, then opens a second instance and then plays that file. However, since the gap between the two is so small you don’t notice it. If you find the path is too long to type, or has plenty of spaces, you can drag and drop the file onto the Terminal window to automatically load the file path.
Once the command has ran, you will have two copies open of VLC or Quicktime playing the movies or music file from 00:00 at the same time. You can repeat this command depending on how many instances you want open.
It is worth noting that each instance you open takes up bandwidth to your hard drive. Use Activity Monitor in the Utilities folder to measure how much disk access you are using, and when you will reach the limit. If you find your Mac stuttering when playing a couple of files at the same time, it is because your Mac can’t access the disk quick enough to play the files.
If you have any questions or comments about this trick, please leave one below.