.M3U File Extension
M3U Media Playlist
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What is an M3U file?
An M3U file is a media playlist that can be opened in various media players, including VideoLAN VLC media player, Nullsoft Winamp, and Microsoft Windows Media Player. It contains plain text that states where the media files the playlist includes are located. It also includes metadata describing attributes of the referenced files (such as their author and title).
M3U playlists can be used to play media stored on your computer or stream media over the Internet. Playlists used to play local files include file paths that point to those files. Playlists used to stream media include URLs that point to that media.
The M3U format was originally designed to describe audio playlists, comprised of .MP3, .WAV, and other audio files. However, the format is now commonly used to save video playlists, comprised of .MP4, .TS, and .WEBM files. Note that M3U files do not contain the media itself. Instead, they contain information used to open and play media files.
NOTE: M3U is short for MP3 URL, which is itself short for Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 Uniform Resource Locator.
How to create an M3U file
Many media players that can create playlists can save those playlists as M3U files. For example, you can create an M3U playlist in VideoLAN VLC media player by loading a queue of media files, selecting Media → Save Playlist to File or File → Save Playlist..., and saving the playlist in the M3U format.
How to open an M3U file
You can open an M3U file and play the playlist it contains in many media players, including VideoLAN VLC media player (multiplatform) and Microsoft Windows Media Player (Windows). If the playlist your M3U file describes does not begin playing when you open it, it may be because you do not have access to the files included in the playlist.
You can also open an M3U file with any text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad (Windows) or Apple TextEdit (Mac), to view the text it contains.
How to convert an M3U file
M3U files are not audio or video files, so you cannot convert them to .MP3, .MP4, or other media formats. To convert the media files an M3U playlist references to other formats, you must locate or download the files. Then, you must convert them using an applicable program.
For example, if your M3U file references a series of MP3 files, you must locate or download the MP3 files. Then, you can use Audacity or VideoLAN VLC media player to convert them to other audio formats.