M3U File Image

What is a M3U File & How to Play .m3u Files on Different Apps

An M3U file, also known as Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 Uniform Resource Locator, is a computer file engineered for a multimedia playlist. This M3U file simply just points to an audio file so that the media player can keep them in line for a playback. These are audio playlist files that are stored with the .m3u extension. These files have a texted based file format which also stands for MP3 URL, which gives you access to stream free online videos and music websites.

What is an M3U File Format?

Considering the format of the M3U files, we’ve studied that there is no such specific file format. It is known to be the de-facto standard. M3U files contain a text playlist of any local audio playlist or a link to the respective audio content. It is just a simple text file that functions using the .m3u extension. This media player lines them up for an audio stream and also supports video file references.

test.m3u notepad file Image

Types of M3U Files?

When it comes to M3U files, there are three types: Extended M3U, UTF-8 encoded M3U and M3U8. To give you a better understanding of each type, here’s a short overview:

Types of M3U files image

Extended M3U Files

M3U Plus, or extended M3U files, are a version of the conventional M3U format that possess enhanced information on each media listed in the playlist. This extra metadata could include titles, performers and albums related to the media along with other identifying details.

Creating an extended M3U format can be done manually by including the metadata in the file, or it can be created automatically with compatible media player software. As such, these tags are regularly found within M3U files:

  • #EXTM3U – The file header indicates Extended M3U and must be the first line of the file.
  • #EXTENC: – Text encoding. It must be the 2nd line of the file.
  • #EXTINF: – Used for track information and other additional properties.
  • #PLAYLIST: – The title of the playlist
  • #EXTGRP: – Begin name grouping
  • #EXTALB: – Album information
  • #EXTART: – Album artist
  • #EXTGENRE – Album Genre
  • #EXTM3A – Single file playlist for album tracks or chapters.
  • #EXTBYT: – File size in bytes.
  • #EXTBIN: – Binary data follows.
  • #EXTIMG: – Logo, Cover or other images.

UTF-8 Encoded M3U Files

M3U files that are encoded in the UTF-8 character encoding can support a wide range of languages and characters, enabling it to be used globally. As one of the most widely adopted table standards today, UTF-8 provides an extensive library for representing virtually any linguistic symbols in existence – like Chinese, Cyrillic or Arabic – making it a superior choice when creating M3U playlists with media titles written outside Latin alphabets. With this flexible coding format at hand, users have access to many more options when composing their own music libraries!

Easily create a UTF-8 encoded M3U file by saving the document withUTF-8 encoding using an appropriate text editor, like Notepad, TextEdit or Sublime Text. It’s important to remember that not all media player software can read this format though – it might be necessary to change encoding type and/or switch up your file format completely if you find your media player does not support UTF-8 encoded M3U files.

M3U8 Files

The M3U8 file format is a spin-off of the M3U standard and utilizes UTF-8 character encoding to ensure compatibility with Unicode. This type of file is put into action to stream audio/video content over the internet through HTTP Live Streaming (also known as HLS). With an M3U8, you can expect near real-time streaming playback on your device!

M3U8 files are just like regular M3Us, but they come with extra info such as the encryption type utilized, duration of each media segment and their corresponding M3U file URLs. This is crucial for streaming media over the internet due to its segments being transmitted one at a time.

Here’s an example of an M3U8 file:

M3U8 Files image

Starting this example file is the #EXTM3U directive, which signals that it’s an M3U8. The #EXT-X-VERSION reveals which version of protocol we’re using and the #EXT-X-MEDIA-SEQUENCE points to what number segment in the playlist marks its beginning. Lastly, each media segment has a designated maximum duration set by the  #EXT-X-TARGETDURATION directive.

How M3U Works?

M3U files are plain text playlists informing media players how to play audio or video content. This format is used extensively for sharing and organizing playback lists, with many media players and streaming services supporting them. The layout includes data lines referencing the required files or instructions, such as standard M3U, extended M3U, UTF-8 encoded M3U and HLS-compatible M3U8 formats.

M3U files contain absolute file paths, relative file paths, and URLs that reference media files. The exact location of the media can be specified by an absolute path on a system or its relation to the location of the M3U from a relative path; additionally, streaming services are also utilized via URL links. To give you an idea of what this looks like in practice, here are some examples:

Standard M3U File:





Extended M3U File:


#EXTINF:180, Song 1 – Artist 1 


#EXTINF:240, Song 2 – Artist 2 


#EXTINF:120, Movie 1 – Director 1 


UTF-8 encoded M3U File:


#EXTINF:180, Song 1 – Artist 1 


 #EXTINF:240, Song 2 – Artist 2 


#EXTINF:120, Movie 1 – Director 1 


M3U8 File for HTTP Live Streaming (HLS):

#EXTM3U #EXT-X-VERSION:3 #EXT-X-TARGETDURATION:10 #EXT-X-MEDIA-SEQUENCE:0 #EXTINF:10.0, https://example.com/stream/live_00001.ts #EXTINF:10.0, https://example.com/stream/live_00002.ts #EXTINF:10.0, https://example.com/stream/live_00003.ts #EXTINF:10.0, https://example.com/stream/live_00004.ts #EXTINF:10.0, https://example.com/stream/live_00005.ts #EXT-X-ENDLIST 

How to Download M3U File Easily?

Follow these straightforward steps to download an M3U file with ease:

  • Find a reliable source: When searching for M3U files, find a reliable website or platform that you can trust. Be extremely careful when downloading from unknown sources to ensure your security and privacy.
  • Choose the M3U file: Explore the website or platform to discover the M3U you desire. It could be a playlist for audio or video material, like music and movies.
  • Click on the download link: Once you’ve located the file that fits your needs, click the corresponding download link or button. Depending on your source website and platform, this could be denoted as “Download,” “Save,” or any other similar term.
  • Choose the download location: When asked, decide on the location of your device where you would like to store the M3U file. To make it simpler for you in future, choose a dedicated folder or directory.
  • Wait for the download to complete: Depending on your internet connection speed and the size of the file, downloading might take some time. 
  • Verify the downloaded file: Once your download is done, make sure the file you have matches the initial one you wanted to get. Double-check its name, size and content so it’s 100% accurate.
  • Start using the M3U file: With your downloaded M3U file, you can now conveniently access and listen to audio or video content on a media player that supports this format. Utilizing the compatible application, open up the playlist for an effortless pleasure of music or movies!

How to Open M3U Files?

Below are the steps on how to open a M3U file:

  • To play M3U, make sure you have a compatible media player. VLC Media Player, iTunes, Windows Media Player, and Winamp are excellent choices for this purpose.
  • Obtain the M3U file from its source or search for it on your computer or device.
  • Right-click on the M3U file to access the context menu.
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  • Select the media player from the dropdown menu to open M3U files. If you can’t find it on this list, select “Open With” or “Choose Another App”, and then choose your desired application from a comprehensive list of available programs.
  • When selecting a media player, open the file and let the playback begin – with audio or video files supplied by its accompanying playlist.

How to Create a M3U Playlist File?

The simplest method of creating an M3U file is to encrypt a .txt file onto your computer, which you can later edit with the help of the notepad. You can add in songs, movies, channels, or video clips. As said before, an M3U file is a plain file that contains index entries to each item stored in it.

Every single file must contain a 2-line description that directly points out the online source. It is necessary to use the proper syntax. Here is an m3u file example of a syntax source:

Syntax source example Image

The number that is following the “#EXTINF” section is the audio length denoted in seconds. You can simply drag and drop all your media files from your desktop into the newly created M3U playlist.

Also Read: Elevate Your Music Experience: How to Create M3U Playlists

How to Convert an M3U File?

As an M3U is a plain text file, it means that you cannot change or convert the respective file into MP3, MP4, or any other media format. You can only change the file into another playlist format.

1. Copy the URL you want to convert.

M3u Format URLs Image

2. Open VLC media player, and click on the “Media” tab icon, and select “Open Network Stream.”

VLC Media Open Network Stream Option Image

3. This opens up a new window, and you can paste the copied URL and click “Convert.”

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4. Another window will open up for you to choose the RL conversion settings and save the file in your desired destination. Next, select “Start.”

VLC Preferences Interface Settings Image

5. Wait for the process to complete, and you can play an M3U audio file as an MP3 or MP4 file.

Also Read: Convert M3U to MP3 – Enjoy Your Favorite Audio Tracks Anywhere

How to Edit M3U File?

Here are the simple steps to edit an M3U file:

  • Open the M3U File in a Text Editor: To edit an M3U file, right-click and select either “Open with” or “Open,” then pick a text editor like Notepad (for Windows), TextEdit (on macOS) or any other plain text program.
  • Edit the M3U File: Editing an M3U file is easy when you use a text editor. It’s just a plain text document containing URLs or paths to media files, each on its line. You can customize it however you like – adding new media files, switching up their order in the playlist, or updating existing references with different ones. 
  • Save the Changes: When you are finished making the necessary changes to the M3U file, save it in your text editor by either selecting “File”> “Save” or utilizing a keyboard shortcut such as Ctrl+S on Windows PCs or Command+S on macOS.
  • Close the Text Editor: Save your changes in the M3U file before exiting the text editor.

How to Playback the M3U File?

Sure! Here’s how you can easily access and stream an M3U file using media player software, browsers on a computer, as well as mobile devices:

Playback M3U File Using Media Player Software:

  • Install a Media Player:To ensure smooth playback of M3U files, install a media player on your device that is compatible with the format. VLC Media Player, iTunes, Windows Media Player and Winamp are all popular choices for playing back M3U file types.
  • Open the M3U File: To begin, open your media player and choose to access a file or playlist. Once this is done, locate the M3U file on your device and ensure it has been selected for playback.
  • Start Playback: With the M3U file fully uploaded, your media player will instantly begin streaming any audio or video files noted in the designated playlist. Using only the media player’s commands, you also fully control playback – pause, skip forward and backwards.

Playback M3U File Using Web Browsers:

  • To access M3U files, launch a compatible web browser on your device.
  • To play your desired M3U file, enter its URL into the web browser’s address bar. 
  • To play your M3U file, all you have to do is press Enter or Go. The web browser may ask for confirmation before opening the file; however, it will begin playing audio and video files from the playlist immediately once loaded!

Playback M3U File Using Mobile Devices:

  • Download and install an M3U-compatible media player app on your iOS or Android device. There are lots of options available for both platforms.
  • Open the media player application and click on the option to view a playlist or file. From there, you can easily locate your desired M3U file from your mobile device and select it.
  • After you load the M3U file, your media player application will start playing the audio or video files categorized in the playlist. You can easily use its features to pause, skip, and adjust playback whenever necessary.

Media Players which Support M3U Files

There are several media players that support M3U files. Below are some of the players you can use to play M3U files:

How to Play M3U Files in VLC?

1. Download the M3U file list and open it and copy one of the URL links mentioned below in the image.

2. Open VLC media player and click on the “Media” tab located at the top-left, and select “Open Network Stream.”

VLC Media Open Network Stream Option Image

3. Click on “Network” and paste the copied M3U URL into the box, and next click on “Play.”

VLC Open Media Network Tab Image

4. After the above process has been completed, you can play any M3U file with the help of a VLC media player.

How to use m3u files on IPTV Player?

Here are the simple steps on how to use m3u files on an IPTV Player:

  • To start with IPTV streaming, install a compatible player app that works on your device’s operating system. Some popular choices are VLC, Kodi, GSE Smart IPTV, Perfect Player and IPTV Smarters. 
  • You must obtain an m3u file from a reputable source to access IPTV channels or playlists. This plain text document will contain the URLs of all desired streams.
  • Open the installed IPTV Player on your device.
  • To upload an m3u file to your IPTV Player, click “Load Playlist” or “Add Playlist.” 
  • Locate the m3u file saved on your device and select it. The IPTV Player will automatically load all channels or playlists from that file.
  • After successfully loading the m3u file, your IPTV Player should immediately start displaying the available playlists and channels.

How to play an M3U File on Winamp?

Here are the steps on how to play an M3U file on Winamp:

  • Launch Winamp by double-clicking the program’s icon or searching for it in your Start menu and selecting it.
  • Go to the “File” menu at the top left corner of Winamp’s program window.
  •  From the “File” dropdown menu, you have two options: either select the “Play File” option, which allows you to directly open and play your M3U file or choose the “Add Files(s) “option, which adds it to Winamp’s playlist. 
  • After selecting one of these options, a file dialogue will appear where you can easily locate your desired M3U files. However, alternatively, you can drag and drop them straight into Winamp’s window!
  • When you’ve decided on your M3U file, Winamp will load the playlist and display all songs or media files included in that list in either its main window or playlist editor.
  • Finally, click Winamp’s “Play” button to start playing the songs or media files in the M3U playlist. 

Also Read: How to Play M3U Files: Pro Tips for Enjoyable Media Playback

How to create an M3U playlist on Roku?

  • Find a media server or player app that supports them and install it on your Roku device. Afterwards, follow the setup instructions provided by the application for further guidance.
  • You can use a text editor or specialized software to make M3U file (.m3u) on your computer. 
  • List all the URLs and/or file paths to each media item you want to include in the playlist – one line per entry – then save it where your media server and the player app can access it easily.
  • Add the M3U playlist to the media server or player app.
  • Launch the media server or player app to start playing your M3U playlist on Roku and then navigate to its Playlist section. 
  • Select the M3U playlist you’d like to access from here – this will prompt the application to stream all of its listed media directly onto your device! 

How to use the M3U file on Kodi?

If you want to play an M3U file on Kodi, you will have to install the PVR Simple Client add-on, which is backed by an IPTV subscription.

1. Open Kodi and scroll to “System Settings” and open the new window.

Kodi System Settings Image

2. Next, click on “Add-ons” and tap onto “Install from repository.”

Kodi Install from Repository Option Image

3. The next page opens, selects PVR Clients and click on “PVR IPTV Simple Client” on the right sidebar.

PVR IPTV Simple Client Image

4. Click install, and once the installation is complete, go to Settings > Add-ons > My Add-ons.

Kodi My Add-ons Image

5. Open PVR clients and select PVR IPTV Simple Client M3U Playlist URL.

PVR IPTV Simple Client Image

6. Under the current tab, select Configure and tap on “M3U Playlist URL”.

M3U Play List URL Image

7. Type in the best M3u Playlist URL free that your provider gives.

M3U Url in Kodi Image

8. Click “OK” and Exit Kodi, and now you can play Kodi M3U.

How to Play M3U File with iTunes?

iTunes is also widely used to play M3U files. Here you can simply import all the M3U files directly. It is a popular way to start audio playback with the help of streaming media. Below are the steps to play an M3U file with iTunes:

1. Open iTunes and select “Open Stream” under the file.

iTunes Open Stream Option Image

2. Copy and paste the download M3U URL within the space provided in the pop-up window.

iTunes Library Tab Image

3. Play the audio in the “Internet Songs” section under the library.

iTunes Internet Songs Section Image

Furthermore, when you directly save an M3U file into iTunes, make sure that your network is unblocked because if the network gets disconnected, you won’t be able to access the audio files.

Also Read:

How to Play M3U File on FireStick?

1. In the FireStick Menu tab, scroll to Settings and select “My Fire TV.”

My Fire TV Option on Firestick Image

2. Select on Developer Options and tap to switch on the option “Apps from unknown sources.”

My Fire TV Apps from Unknown Sources Image

3. Download the ‘Downloader’ app.

Downloader on Firestick Image

4. On the other hand, open the URL path to the free M3U Playlist Player that is, Perfect Player App. Type in the required URL when prompted.

Perfect Player M3u File Image
Downloader Enter URL Field Image

5. Allow the App to install the files and click “Done.”

6. To import the files, open Perfect Player App on your Fire Stick > Settings > General > Playlist and paste in the URL offered by your IPTV provider and save it.

Firestick Settings Playlist Option Image

How to Play M3U on Android?

M3U IPTV Player is one of the apps we’ve recommended to play M3U files on an Android device.

1. Download M3U IPTV Player on Mobile or Tablet and Launch the app.

2. On the main window of the app, you will see 2 options: From Network and Local Path.

m3u IPTV main page Image

3. If you want to play an M3U file from the desired network, simply just copy-paste the M3U URL into the “From Network” space.

4. On the other hand, if you are going to select a playlist from your local drive, click the “Browse” and add the respective drive playlist.

5. Once you have clicked either of the options, press “Play,” and the M3U Player will immediately play your playlist.

Also Read: Effortless Entertainment at Your Fingertips – Download M3U Playlist IPTV Android

Software that opens M3U files player on various operating systems

Here is some popular media player software that can open M3U files on various operating systems:

SoftwareMedia Players
WindowsVLC Media Player
Windows Media Player
iOSVLC for Mobile
MacVLC Media Player
Elmedia Player
AndroidVLC for Android
MX Player
IPTV Player
Perfect Player IPTV
LinuxVLC Media Player

Advantages of Using M3U Files

M3U files provide numerous advantages for creating and playing musical playlists, such as:

  • Portability of playlists: M3U files are plain text documents with a list of media or URLs. As they’re platform-independent, you can easily share and transfer them between different devices and media players – they don’t require compatibility! These playlists are exceptionally portable, meaning you can use them on any operating system, device, or media player without worrying about them not working.
  • Compatibility with multiple media players: M3U playlists are compatible with various media players, allowing you to choose from various options that best fit your lifestyle or desires. Furthermore, if you switch it up, they preserve their contents when used in another supporting player! 
  • Ease of creating and editing playlists: M3U playlists are text files that can be quickly created or edited with a text editor or specialized playlist editing program. You have the convenience of customizing your playlists based on your taste and adding new media files or URLs by merely modifying the content of this simple text file. Additionally, you can easily rearrange these audio tracks within an M3U playlist by altering its respective text document!
  • Flexibility in media sources: M3U playlists are versatile and allow users to create media from various sources, including local files, streaming URLs, or live streams. This means that you can access content from your computer’s library in addition to audio/video streaming services and IPTV channels with the same playlist.
  • Scalability and extensibility: M3U playlists are the perfect solution for managing a large collection of media files or creating dynamic and ever-changing playlists. The scalability and extensibility of these lists make them highly versatile, allowing you to tailor your playlist from just a few items up to thousands with multiple groupings or categories

Related Articles:

M3U Playlists 101: Understanding the Basics and Exploring Popular Sources

Best Free IPTV Apps – Watch Live Sports, Movies, and More for Free


How to play EXTM3U?

To play extm3u, you’ll need an app that supports the format, like VLC or Kodi. Simply import the file into the app or copy the URL, and you’re all set to enjoy your favorite streaming content.

How to add M3U file to firestick?

To add an m3u file to your Firestick, you can use a third-party app such as IPTV Smarters or TiviMate. First, download and install the app from the Amazon App Store. Then, launch the app and select “Add Playlist” or “Add Playlist URL”. Enter the URL or local file path of your m3u file and save the playlist. Your m3u file will now be accessible on your Firestick.

How to play M3U files?

To play M3U files, open a media player that supports them and load the file. M3Us contain a list of media files and their locations.

How to create M3U file in notepad?

To create an m3u file in Notepad, open a new document and copy/paste the file paths of your audio files. Save the file with a .m3u extension.

How to add M3U file to Kodi?

To add an M3U playlist to Kodi, go to the “TV” section, select “Playlist” and click “Add Playlist”. Choose the M3U file and you’re done.

How to create M3U file from URL?

To create an M3U file from a URL, first, copy the URL of the desired media. Then, open a text editor and paste the URL. Save the file with an .m3u extension. The file can now be opened in any media player that supports M3U playlists.

How to create a M3U playlist file Android?

To create a M3U playlist file on Android, open a text editor, add file paths for desired songs, and save the file with the .m3u extension.

What is M3U file structure?

M3U is a file format that contains a list of audio or video files. It is commonly used by media players to create playlists. The files are listed in the order they should be played and can include information such as the file name, location, and duration. these files can be created manually or automatically by media player software.

How to play M3U files on windows 10?

To play these files on Windows 10, you can use media players such as VLC or iTunes. Simply open the player, select “Open File,” and locate the m3u file. The player will then load the playlist, allowing you to enjoy your audio or video content. It is essential to ensure that your media player is up-to-date and that the file type is compatible.

How to use M3U Link?

To use an m3u link, simply copy the full URL and paste it into your media player’s “Open Network Stream” option. This will automatically play the playlist.

What is .m3u?

An .m3u file extension is a playlist file used for organizing and playing multimedia files such as audio or video in a specific order or sequence. It is commonly used by media players, and can be edited using a text editor. The file contains a list of media files, their location, and other information such as duration or title. It is a widely used format for streaming audio and video on the internet, particularly for online radio and television stations.

How to add M3U file in Kodi?

To add an m3u file in Kodi, go to the “TV” section, select “Enter add-on browser,” choose “PVR IPTV Simple Client,” configure it with the URL of the m3u file, and select “Enable.”

How to open m3u file on Android?

To open an m3u file on Android, download an m3u player app from the Google Play Store and launch the app. Then, choose the m3u file from your device’s file manager to start playback. Some popular m3u player apps include VLC for Android, IPTV, and Perfect Player.

Final Verdict

We have carefully curated a list of in-depth guides on Using M3U Files and How you can open/play them using different software apps. With an M3U file, you are not restricted to watch your favorite TV shows, movies, and music only on the television or radio but can listen to them on your desktop and mobile devices too. We have also helped you understand an M3U file and how you can open it on your Windows 10 Desktop.

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