How to Create a Playlist File (M3U) in macOS

This quick and easy to follow guide will show you how to create a playlist file (.m3u) on your Mac – using software you already have installed!

Playlists can be super helpful. If you want to binge-watch a bunch of movies or TV shows, loading up a playlist lets you “set it and forget it”. Plus, playlist files are readable by every possible modern media player – VLC, iTunes, Quicktime – you name it. The best part is that they’re super easy to create and you don’t need any special software. Just follow these easy steps –

  1. Since a playlist file (.m3u) is actually just a text file with the name and location of one file per line, all you need to create an .M3U is to use a text editor. Open TextEdit from your Applications list and create a new file. Make sure it’s a “plain” text file by selecting Format -> Make Plain Text (Note: if you don’t see Make Plain Text as an option that’s perfect – your file is already formatted properly).
  2. Now open a Finder window and navigate to the first file you want to put in your playlist. Drag and drop that file from Finder to your newly created text file.

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  4. The file will update with a line of text – the full path on your hard drive to the media file.
  5. Now hit return on your keyboard (may be called enter) to move down to the next line.
  6. Repeat step #2 – this time drag and drop several media files into your playlist.

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  8. Each file will have its own line of text – the path to the media file.
  9. You can mix audio and video files in a playlist, as long as the media player you’re opening the playlist in supports each file type. For example, the media player VLC will play pretty much any media file that exists. iTunes, on the other hand, doesn’t natively play .mkv or .flac files. If your playlist were to contain either of those file types, iTunes would display an error and probably just move to the next file in the playlist.
  10. When you’ve added all the files you want to your playlist, select File -> Save…
  11. Make sure to change the file extension from .txt to .m3u
  12. That’s it – you’ve created your first playlist!
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