How can I control mpv in command line?

Like is there a mpv next/prev command that I can use to play next or previous media file?

  • mpv is a command-line program (for next and previous press < and > in the command-line while it's running). Are you wondered how to remote control it from another shell? Jul 28, 2022 at 4:41

3 Answers 3


There are two ways to do such a thing:

  • Setup IPC for mpv and socket controlling
  • Using 3rd party scripts

Setup IPC for mpv

You can do such a thing with IPC, as man mpv said:

Using --input-ipc-server is also suitable for purposes like remote control.

First you'll need to enable IPC socketing in your mpv.conf or ~/.config/mpv/mpv.conf:

# Enable the IPC support to control mpv from the command-line.

If you want to keep it open temporarily and only for one session, you can do:

$ mpv --input-ipc-server=$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/mpv/socket

Now you can control your media:

Play / Pause

echo cycle pause | socat - "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/mpv/socket"

Next Track

echo playlist-next | socat - "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/mpv/socket"

Previous Track

echo playlist-prev | socat - "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/mpv/socket"

Using an external program

Another way to control mpv from command line, is to use mpvc or such programs, it's like mpc but for `mpv.

Really powerful, examples:

$ mpvc next                   # Play next media
$ mpvc prev                   # Play previous media
$ mpvc mute                   # Mute media's sound track
$ mpvc unmute                 # Unmute media's sound track
$ mpvc volume +               # Increase volume
$ mpvc volume -               # Decrease volume

There are multiple options to interact with mpv from a command line, as suggested in the manual e.g.,

  • keybindings (using 'input.conf')
  • OSD
  • client API (libmpv) ...

In GNU systems you can check /usr/share/doc/mpv/ to have some inspiration on how to configure mpv: input.conf has default keybindings and mpv.confhas an example configuration file.

You can check the manual to know about how to use in different operational systems:



While there are multiple ways and programs to handle controlling MPV from the command line, I wasn't satisfied with the existing solutions, so I wrote a script that supports controlling mpv from the command line in Python.


$ mpvctl next               # Play next media
$ mpvctl prev               # Play previous media
$ mpvctl add *.mp3          # Play MP3's in the current directory.
$ mpvctl trash              # Move the file to the trash and play the next. 

This supports:

  • Basics such as pause/play, next/previous .. etc.
  • Relative seeking.
  • Adding file(s), optionally replacing the current playlist.
  • Moving file playing to the trash.

The alternatives I found had some limitations (not expanding the $PWD when adding files - for example), and I found the BASH to handle more involved commands was difficult to follow. Hence the rewrite in Python.

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