.M3U8 File Extension

UTF-8 M3U Playlist

Developer Apple
3.8  |  201 Votes

What is an M3U8 file?

An M3U8 file is a playlist file used by various audio and video players. It contains plain text that describes where the audio and video files included in the playlist are located. These descriptions may take the form of file paths or URLs. Typically, M3U8 files that contain file paths are used to play media files stored on your PC, and those that contain URLs are used to play media files accessed over the Internet.

More Information

Screenshot of a .m3u8 file in Microsoft Visual Studio Code
M3U8 file open in Microsoft Visual Studio Code

In addition to file paths and URLs, M3U8 files contain metadata that media players use to play the referenced media files correctly. For example, M3U8 files used to stream videos that are hosted online may contain information about the referenced videos' resolution, codec, and maximum needed bandwidth. This information is specified using the #EXT-X-STREAM-INF: setting.

In contrast, M3U8 files used to play audio and video located on your computer are often much simpler. These files may contain only a couple pieces of metadata, such as the playlist title (specified using the #PLAYLIST setting) and track information (specified using the #EXTINF setting).

NOTE: M3U8 files are similar to .M3U files, except the text they contain is always encoded using UTF-8 character encoding. On rare occasions, M3U8 files may be saved with the .M3UP extension.

How to open an M3U8 file

The same M3U8 file open in VideoLAN VLC media player
The same M3U8 file open in VideoLAN VLC media player

You can open an M3U8 file and play the playlist it contains in many media players, including Microsoft Windows Media Player (Windows) and VideoLAN VLC media player (multiplatform). If you open an M3U8 file and the playlist it describes does not begin playing, it may be because you do not have access to the files included in the playlist.

You can also open your M3U8 file in any text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad (Windows) or Apple TextEdit (Mac), to view the text it contains.

How to convert an M3U8 file

M3U8 files are not video or audio files, so you cannot convert them to .MP4, .MP3, or other media formats. To convert the media files an M3U8 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 M3U8 file references a series of .TS files, you must locate or download the TS files. Then, you can use VideoLAN VLC media player to convert them to other video formats.

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Programs that open M3U8 files

Verified by FileInfo.com

The FileInfo.com team has independently researched the UTF-8 M3U Playlist file format and Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS apps listed on this page. Our goal is 100% accuracy and we only publish information about file types that we have verified.

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