What is M3U? How to Open, Play & Convert M3u File

An M3U file, often associated with an Premium IPTV subscription, is a versatile multimedia playlist format used to organize audio and video content. Whether you’re new to M3U or looking to enhance your understanding, this guide will walk you through the essentials of opening, playing, and converting M3U files.


What Is an M3U File?

An M3U file is a plain text playlist format that contains a list of multimedia files, such as audio or video, along with their file paths or URLs. M3U stands for “MP3 URL” or “Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 Uniform Resource Locator,” though it’s not limited to MP3 files and can include various multimedia formats.

The M3U file acts as a structured index for multimedia content, allowing media players and software to read the list and play the files in the specified order. M3U playlists can be created and edited using text editors and are commonly used for organizing and streaming media content, including music playlists and internet radio station lists.

M3U files can come in two formats:

  1. M3U: This format uses relative or absolute file paths to specify the location of the media files on a local device or network. It is often used for organizing local media collections.
  2. M3U URL (M3U8): This format contains URLs pointing to online media streams or web-based content. It is commonly used for streaming internet radio stations, online video streams, and IPTV services.

M3U files are versatile and supported by a wide range of multimedia players and software, making them a popular choice for creating playlists and managing media content.

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How to Open an M3U File

To open an M3U file, you can use various multimedia players or applications depending on your operating system and personal preference. Here are the general steps to open an M3U file on common operating systems:

On Windows:

  1. Right-click on the M3U file.
  2. Choose a media player that supports the M3U format, such as Windows Media Player or VLC.
  3. The file will open and start playing in the selected player.

On macOS:

  1. Right-click on the M3U file.
  2. Select a media player that supports the M3U format, like VLC or iTunes.
  3. The file will open and begin playing in the chosen player.

On Linux:

  1. Open your preferred M3U-supported multimedia player, such as VLC or Totem.
  2. In the player, choose “Open File” or a similar option.
  3. Navigate to the location of the M3U file and select it.
  4. The file will open and start playing in the selected player.

Please note that M3U files are playlist files that typically contain links or paths to multiple audio or video files to be played. Ensure that you have a media player installed on your computer that supports the M3U format to open and play these files successfully. If your M3U file contains online streaming links, make sure your computer is connected to the internet.

Have you heard of the popular VLC? Yes, this is my favorite free streaming media player. It is a free, open-source, cross-platform multimedia player. It can play almost all common audio and video file formats, including streaming and webcasts. VLC is a powerful multimedia tool that is used on devices such as computers, mobile phones, and tablets. It also supports advanced features such as captioning, track selection, and screen capture. and streaming, making it popular with many users. Available on many operating systems. including Windows, macOS, Linux, and various mobile device platforms.

It supports M3U format, M3U8, PLS, XSPF, WVX, CONF, ASX, IFO, CUE, etc.

Now I will introduce you to How to Open an M3U File With VLC Player. Please follow my steps to understand.

How to Open M3U File With VLC Player?

Before opening an M3u File with VLC, you need to download an M3U file and open it, then select the M3U playlist URL you need and copy it. This will enable you to perform the following steps.

  1. Launch VLC Player: If you haven’t already installed VLC Media Player, you can download and install it from the official website (https://www.videolan.org/vlc/).
  2. Open VLC Player: Launch VLC Media Player from your computer’s applications or programs menu.
  3. Navigate to Media: Click on the “Media” menu at the top-left corner of the VLC window.
  4. Open File: From the dropdown menu that appears when you click “Media,” select “Open File.”open-m3u-file-with-vlc-player
  5. Choose “Open Network Stream“: From the options in the dropdown menu, select “Open Network Stream”.open-m3u-file-with-vlc-player-1
  6. Browse for the M3U File: A new window will pop up. Use the “Browse” button to navigate to the location where your M3U file is located on your computer. Select the M3U file you want to open.stream-iptv-m3u-vlc-2
  7. Open the M3U File: After selecting the M3U file, click the “Open” button.
  8. Play the Playlist: VLC will open and begin playing the media files listed in the M3U playlist.stream-iptv-m3u-vlc-3

That’s it! You’ve successfully opened and played an M3U file using VLC Media Player. VLC is a versatile media player that can handle various multimedia formats and playlists, making it a popular choice for playing M3U files.

How to Play M3U Files with Winamp


First, you need to download an M3U file and open it, then select the M3U playlist URL you need and copy it. This will enable you to perform the following steps.

To play M3U files with Winamp, you can follow these steps:

  1. Download and Install Winamp: If you don’t already have Winamp installed on your computer, you can download it from the official website (https://www.winamp.com/). Follow the installation instructions to set up Winamp on your system.
  2. Launch Winamp: After installing Winamp, open the application by double-clicking its icon on your desktop or by searching for it in your computer’s programs or applications menu.
  3. Load the M3U Playlist: To load the M3U playlist into Winamp, follow these steps:
    • Click on the “File” menu at the top-left corner of the Winamp window.
    • From the dropdown menu, select “Open…” or press “Ctrl+L” on your keyboard.
  4. Select the M3U File: In the “Open File” dialog that appears, navigate to the location where your M3U file is saved on your computer.
  5. Open the M3U File: Select the M3U file you want to play and click the “Open” button.
  6. Play the Playlist: Winamp will load the M3U playlist and start playing the media files listed in the playlist. You can control playback using the Winamp controls, such as play, pause, stop, and volume adjustment.

Winamp is a versatile media player that supports various audio formats, including M3U playlists. Following these steps should allow you to easily play M3U files using Winamp.

How to Play M3U Files on Android or iPhone Using M3U IPTV Player App

To play M3U files on Android or iPhone using an M3U IPTV player app, you can follow these general steps:

On Android:

  1. Install an M3U IPTV Player App: Open the Google Play Store on your Android device and search for an M3U IPTV player app. Some popular options include IPTV Smarters, Perfect Player, and TiviMate. Install the app of your choice.
  2. Launch the App: Once the app is installed, open it by tapping on its icon in your app drawer.
  3. Enter Your IPTV Details: Most IPTV player apps will require you to enter your IPTV service provider’s subscription details, including the M3U URL or file. Follow the app’s setup instructions to do this.
  4. Import or Load the M3U File: Depending on the app, you can either import the M3U file directly or enter the M3U URL. Check the app’s settings or instructions for the specific method.
  5. Save and Play: After adding the M3U file or URL, save the settings and try playing the playlist. The app will load the channels and content from the M3U file, allowing you to watch your desired content.

On iPhone (iOS):

  1. Install an M3U IPTV Player App: Go to the App Store on your iPhone and search for an M3U IPTV player app like GSE SMART IPTV, IPTV Smarters, or iPlayTV. Download and install the app of your choice.
  2. Launch the App: Once the app is installed, tap on its icon to open it.
  3. Add Your IPTV Subscription: Follow the app’s on-screen instructions to add your IPTV subscription details, including the M3U URL or file.
  4. Import or Load the M3U File: Depending on the app, you can either import the M3U file directly or enter the M3U URL. Refer to the app’s settings or user guide for the specific process.
  5. Save and Start Watching: After adding the M3U file or URL, save your settings and start playing the content. The app will load the channels and media listed in the M3U file, allowing you to enjoy your IPTV service on your iPhone.

How to use the M3U IPTV Player app to play M3U/M3U8 File

  • Step 1: Install and open the M3U IPTV Player app on your mobile device.
  • Step 2: On the main interface, choose the source for your M3U file: you can select “Local Path” if you have the file saved on your device, or “Network” if you have an online M3U playlist.
  • Step 3: If you opt for “Local Path,” tap the “Browse” button to locate and add your local M3U/M3U8 playlist file. If you choose “Network,” simply copy and paste the M3U playlist URL into the “From Network” box.
  • Step 4: Press the “Play” button, which is located at the bottom of the screen.
  • Step 5: Your M3U playlist will start playing immediately.

How to Build an M3U File

  1. Open a text editor like Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (macOS).
  2. List the multimedia files you want in your playlist, one file per line.
  3. Format each entry as follows:
    • #EXTINF is an information tag that specifies the file’s duration (in seconds) and an optional title.
    • duration is the file’s duration.
    • title is an optional title.
    • file_path is the file’s path or URL.
  4. Save the file with a .m3u extension, like “my_playlist.m3u.”build-an-m3u-file
  5. Test it with an M3U-compatible media player, such as VLC. Open the M3U file, and it will play the listed media files in order.
  6. Share, use, or organize your multimedia content as needed.

Creating an M3U file is straightforward and convenient for organizing and playing multimedia files. Ensure accurate file paths or URLs in the M3U to prevent playback issues.

How to Convert an M3U File

To convert an M3U file, you have several options:

  1. Text Editor (Manual Editing):
    • Open the M3U file in a text editor.
    • Make any necessary changes to the content.
    • Save the file with the .m3u extension.
  2. Use a Playlist Conversion Tool:
    • Download and install a playlist conversion tool like Playlist Converter.
    • Open the M3U file in the tool.
    • Choose the desired output format.
    • Follow the tool’s instructions to convert the playlist.
  3. Online Conversion Tools:
    • Visit an M3U file conversion website.
    • Upload your M3U file or provide its URL.
    • Select the output format and customize settings.
    • Start the conversion, and the website will provide the converted file for download.
  4. Media Player Software (e.g., VLC):
    • Open VLC Media Player.
    • Load the M3U playlist.
    • Go to “Media” > “Save Playlist to File.”
    • Choose the output format and save the converted playlist.

Always back up your original M3U file before making changes or conversions. The specific steps may vary depending on the tool or software you use.

How to Recover Lost or Deleted M3U Files?

Recovering lost or deleted M3U files can be possible depending on various factors, including how the files were deleted and your device’s configuration. Here are some steps you can follow to attempt recovery:

1. Check Recycle Bin or Trash (PC/Mac):

  • On Windows, check the Recycle Bin.
  • On macOS, check the Trash folder.
  • If you find the deleted M3U file, right-click it and select “Restore” (Windows) or drag it back to your desktop (Mac).

2. Check Backup:

  • If you have a backup system in place, check your backup files or cloud storage for the deleted M3U file.

3. Use Data Recovery Software (PC/Mac):

  • If you don’t have a backup, consider using data recovery software like Recuva (for Windows) or Disk Drill (for macOS). These tools can sometimes recover deleted files.

4. Restore from a Mobile Device Backup (Android/iPhone):

  • If you deleted M3U files from your mobile device, you may be able to recover them from a backup.
  • On Android, go to “Settings” > “System” > “Backup” and restore from a previous backup.
  • On iPhone, use iTunes or iCloud to restore from a backup.

5. Contact Support (IPTV Service Provider):

  • If the M3U file is associated with an IPTV service, contact your service provider. They might have a copy of your playlist or offer assistance in recovery.

6. Check Other Devices:

  • If you use multiple devices, check if the M3U file is still available on another device where it might not have been deleted.

7. Avoid Writing New Data:

  • Stop using the device or storage medium (e.g., hard drive) from which the M3U files were deleted to avoid overwriting them with new data. Overwritten data is much harder to recover.

Please note that the success of file recovery depends on several factors, including the time elapsed since deletion and the actions taken on the device afterward. The sooner you attempt recovery, the better your chances of success. Additionally, consider regularly backing up your important files to prevent data loss in the future.

Which multimedia players support the M3U File Type?

Here’s a simplified list of multimedia players that support the M3U file format:

  1. VLC Media Player: A versatile and cross-platform player for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.
  2. Windows Media Player: The native player on Windows OS.
  3. iTunes: Supports M3U playlists alongside music and video management.
  4. Winamp: A classic Windows media player with M3U support.
  5. Foobar2000: A customizable Windows media player.
  6. MediaMonkey: A Windows media manager and player.
  7. Kodi (formerly XBMC): An open-source media center available on various platforms.
  8. PLEX: Supports M3U playlists for media organization and streaming.
  9. IPTV Player Apps: Android and iOS apps like IPTV Smarters and TiviMate for live TV and VOD.
  10. Online Media Players: Players like JWPlayer and Flowplayer for streaming from M3U URLs.

These players offer compatibility with M3U playlists, making it easy to organize and play multimedia content.


Here I have compiled a comparison table for you about M3U vs. M3U8. So you can see the difference between them.

DefinitionMP3 URL or Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 Uniform Resource LocatorExtension of M3U format for UTF-8 encoded playlists
File Extension.m3u.m3u
PurposeCreating playlists for various media formatsCreating playlists for HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) and multimedia streaming
Supported FeaturesBasic playlist functionalityAdvanced features like adaptive bitrate streaming and multiple stream variants
EncodingNot specific to UTF-8Specifically designed for UTF-8 encoding
UsageGeneral media playlistsPrimarily used for online streaming platforms and multimedia streaming

Please note that while M3U files can still be used for streaming purposes, M3U8 files offer more advanced features and are commonly used for modern streaming technologies like HTTP Live Streaming (HLS).



What is an M3U IPTV Player?

An M3U IPTV player is a software application or a device that is specifically designed to play IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) content using M3U playlist files. IPTV is a technology that allows the delivery of television and multimedia content over the internet, and M3U playlists are commonly used to organize and access these streams.

How does M3U work?

M3U is not a conventional audio or video file; rather, it takes the form of a text-based format that specifies the locations of audio or video files. To access the content within an M3U file, you can examine its data using a text editor and utilize a media player to enjoy the music or movie it references.

How do I get M3U links?

1. IPTV Service Providers: Subscribe to an IPTV service to access M3U links for TV channels and content.
2. Online M3U Playlist Generators: Use online tools or websites to create M3U playlists for streaming content.
3. Content Providers: Some platforms and providers offer M3U links for their content, such as radio stations or streaming services.
4. User-Generated Content: Find M3U playlists shared by individuals or communities on forums, social media, or dedicated websites.
5. Media Center Plugins: Utilize plugins or add-ons in media center software like Kodi or Plex for M3U links to various content.
6. Public IPTV Lists: Discover curated public M3U playlists on certain websites for free or publicly available streaming content.
Always ensure that your use of M3U links complies with copyright laws and terms of service. Verify the legality of the content you access.

How do I open an M3U file?

The M3U file format is used for audio playlists on computers. You can open it with media players like VLC Media Player, MediaPlayerLite, and Winamp. Consider using MiniTool MovieMaker to incorporate your preferred audio files into videos.

How do I create a M3U link?

1. On your PC, create a new empty. txt document.
2. Rename the . …
3. Open the m3u file with a notepad or a text editor.
4. In the first line type #EXTM3U.
5. After the first line, start listing your music files (with an extension). …
6. Exit the text editor and save the m3u file once you are finished.

What is M3U vs M3U8?

There’s a minimal technical disparity between M3U and M3U8 files, primarily differing in character encoding. While M3U files may occasionally employ UTF-8, they are more commonly associated with distinct encoding standards. In contrast, M3U8 exclusively employs UTF-8 encoding. Both are plain text files that contain details about the song locations within a playlist.


Now that you’ve gained a solid grasp of M3U files and their functionality, you’re well-equipped to manage and enjoy your multimedia content effectively. Whether it’s creating custom music playlists, optimizing your IPTV subscription with the latest channels, or exploring an IPTV free trial to experience the best in digital entertainment, M3U files are a valuable tool in the world of digital media.

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