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What Are M3U Files? How to Play or Open One?

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You may have come across an M3U file and you may wonder what it is all about. Unlike other file extensions like mp3 or mp4, where you instantly understand what you are receiving, M3U files are uncommon and may be misunderstood by users.

What is an M3U File?

M3U Files
What Are M3U Files?

An M3U File is a media playlist file. It is basically a container file that includes text-based files pointing back to the pathnames or locations of the media files or folders. In other words, there is no actual media in the files but simply references to the actual media.

M3U Files may contain text playlist that are local playlist of audio or a link to the audio content. It was created for the Winamp application but now, you can also play it on MP3 players that also use M3U files. The media player can queue them for an audio stream or playback.

These M3U Files have the .m3u file extension. It may also contain video files references.

Softwares That Can Open an M3U File

  • Media Monkey
  • RealDownloader
  • iTunes
  • VideoLAN VLC Media Player
  • RealPlayer Cloud
  • RealTrimmer
  • Songbird
  • K-Lite Codec Pack
  • Media Player Classic 1.9.1
  • Clementine
  • Winamp
  • Microsoft Media Player

Converting an M3U File

If you want to convert an M3U file, you can only do so by converting it to another playlist format or to a text file. Since an M3U file is simply a text file and do not contain the actual media files, you cannot convert it to a playable media format.

You can convert an M3U file to another playlist format through a Playlist Creator application. Convert it to HTML, XSPF, or M3U8. If you want to convert it to a text file, use a text editor to save it to HTML, TXT, or other text-based format.

How to Play an M3U File in VLC

play in VLC Media PLayer
  • Download your M3U File and open it using a text editor.
  • Copy the URL playlist.
  • Then, open the VLC Media Player.
  • Click the Media Button and select “Open Network Stream.”
  • When a window pops up, select Network and the paste the copied URL.
  • Click Play.

How to Play an M3U File in iTunes

Play in itunes
  • Copy the URL playlist.
  • Open iTunes.
  • Click File and select Open Stream.
  • When a window pops up, paste the copied URL.
  • Go to the Library section of iTunes.
  • Click Internet and and play your selected songs.

Final Thoughts!

Was the article helpful? Have you ever played an M3U file before? Tell us more about it in the comments below.

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