.M3U File Recovery

Have files been deleted due to a user’s error or software error? Have you formatted a disk by accident and need to know how to recover the files? Read our .M3U file recovery guide for Windows, MacOS, Android and IOS in 2024.

M3U File Recovery

What is a .M3U file?

An M3U file is a media playlist file supported by several media players such as Winamp and iTunes. It contains a playlist of MP3s and other audio or video files and lists the locations of media files in a plain text format.

What Are Common Causes of ".M3U" Files Lost or Failure?

There are several common causes of ".M3U" file loss or failure:

  1. Accidental deletion: Users may accidentally delete ".M3U" files while organizing or cleaning up their files and folders.
  2. File system corruption: Corruption in the file system can lead to the loss or failure of ".M3U" files. This can occur due to sudden power outages, improper system shutdowns, or hardware malfunctions.
  3. Virus or malware attacks: Malicious software can infect and corrupt ".M3U" files, rendering them inaccessible or unusable.
  4. Software or hardware issues: Errors or glitches in media player software or hardware can cause ".M3U" files to become corrupted or fail to function properly.
  5. Improper file transfer: If ".M3U" files are not transferred correctly or interrupted during the process, they may get damaged or lost.
  6. Disk errors: Bad sectors on the storage device where ".M3U" files are stored can lead to file loss or failure.
  7. Operating system issues: Incompatibility or conflicts with the operating system can result in ".M3U" file errors or loss.
  8. Human error: Accidentally renaming, moving, or modifying ".M3U" files can lead to their loss or failure.

It is essential to regularly backup ".M3U" files to prevent permanent loss in case of any of these causes.

How to recover lost ".M3U" files?

Sometimes while working with a computer, laptop or other stationary or mobile devices, you may encounter various bugs, freezes, hardware or software failures, even in spite of regular updates and junk cleaning. As a result, an important ".M3U" file may be deleted.

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🧺 How to Recover Files and Folders After Sending Them to the Recycle Bin and Deleting? (Windows 11)

🧺 How to Recover Files and Folders After Sending Them to the Recycle Bin and Deleting? (Windows 11)

By no means should you think that the only way to recover a ".M3U" file is always to create it once more.

Use programs for recovering ".M3U" files if a file was lost after accidental or deliberate deleting, formatting the memory card or the internal storage, cleaning the storage device, after a virus attack or a system failure.

Programs to recover ".M3U" files

Looking for a way to get files back? In cases when files were deleted and they cannot be restored by using standard operating system tools, use Hetman Partition Recovery.

The tool recovers data from any devices, regardless of the cause of data loss.

Follow the directions below:

  1. Download Hetman Partition Recovery, install and start the program.

  2. The program will automatically scan the computer and display all hard disks and removable drives connected to it, as well as physical and local disks.

    File Recovery Software
  3. Double-click on the disk from which you need to recover ".M3U" files, and select analysis type.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Analysis Type
  4. When the scanning is over, you will be shown the files for recovery.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Files that Can be Restored
  5. To find a file you need, use the program’s interface to open the folder it was deleted from, or go to the folder "Content-Aware Analysis" and select the required file type.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Deep Scan
  6. Select the files you have been looking for and click "Recovery".

    File Recovery Software - Files List for Recovery
  7. Choose one of the methods for saving the files and recover them.

    Saving recovered files in Hetman Partition Recovery

How to open file with ".M3U" extension?

Looking for how to open a stereo media Playlist File image file file?

Programs that open ".M3U" files

Microsoft Windows Media Player Microsoft Windows Media Player
VideoLAN VLC media player VideoLAN VLC media player
Nullsoft Winamp Nullsoft Winamp
Apple iTunes Apple iTunes
Media Player Classic Media Player Classic
foobar2000 foobar2000
Clementine Clementine
Apple iTunes Apple iTunes
RealNetworks RealPlayer Cloud RealNetworks RealPlayer Cloud
VideoLAN VLC media player VideoLAN VLC media player
Songbird Songbird
Clementine Clementine
VideoLAN VLC media player VideoLAN VLC media player
Clementine Clementine

Additional Information

  • File type: Media Playlist File

  • File extension: .M3U

  • Developer: Nullsoft

  • Category: Audio Files

  • Format: Text

  • Mime-type: audio/x-mpegurl

  • HEX: 23 45 58 54 4D 33 55 0D 0A



We will be happy to answer your questions!

Comments (1)

  • Hetman Software: Data Recovery
    Hetman Software: Data Recovery 18.12.2019 13:57 #
    Leave a comment if you have any questions about Recovering lost .M3U files after deleting, cleaning or formatting!
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Vladimir Artiukh

Author: Vladimir Artiukh, Technical Writer

Vladimir Artiukh is a technical writer for Hetman Software, as well as the voice and face of their English-speaking YouTube channel, Hetman Software: Data Recovery for Windows. He handles tutorials, how-tos, and detailed reviews on how the company’s tools work with all kinds of data storage devices.

Oleg Afonin

Editor: Oleg Afonin, Technical Writer

Oleg Afonin is an expert in mobile forensics, data recovery and computer systems. He often attends large data security conferences, and writes several blogs for such resources as xaker.ru, Elcomsoft and Habr. In addition to his online activities, Oleg’s articles are also published in professional magazines. Also, Oleg Afonin is the co-author of a well-known book, Mobile Forensics - Advanced Investigative Strategies.


Questions and answers

  • What is a .M3U file and what is its purpose?

    A .M3U file is a playlist file format that contains a list of audio or video files. It stands for "MP3 URL" or "Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 Uniform Resource Locator." The purpose of a .M3U file is to organize and play multiple media files in a specific order, typically in media players or streaming applications.

    This file format is commonly used for creating playlists for music or video collections. It allows users to create a list of songs or videos they want to play, specifying the file paths or URLs of each media file. The .M3U file can be opened and played in various media players, which will then sequentially play the listed files. It provides a convenient way to organize and manage media files for continuous playback.

  • How can I open a .M3U file and what programs or applications are commonly used?

    To open a .M3U file, you can use various media players, text editors, or playlist managers. Here are some commonly used programs and applications:

    1. VLC Media Player: It is a popular media player that supports various file formats, including .M3U playlists. You can open the .M3U file directly in VLC by going to "Media" > "Open File" and selecting the .M3U file.
    2. Winamp: This media player also supports .M3U playlists. You can open the .M3U file by going to "File" > "Play File" and selecting the .M3U file.
    3. iTunes: If you're using iTunes, you can import the .M3U playlist by going to "File" > "Library" > "Import Playlist" and selecting the .M3U file.
    4. Foobar2000: It is a lightweight and customizable audio player that supports .M3U playlists. You can open the .M3U file by going to "File" > "Load Playlist" and selecting the .M3U file.
    5. Notepad or any text editor: .M3U files are essentially plain text files, so you can open them with any text editor. However, this will only display the list of file paths and not play the actual media files.

    Remember, the above programs are just a few examples, and there are many other media players and playlist managers available that can open .M3U files.

  • Are there any specific steps or procedures to follow when opening and using a .M3U file?

    Yes, there are specific steps to follow when opening and using a .M3U file. Here's a general procedure:

    1. Ensure you have a compatible media player: .M3U files are playlist files commonly used for streaming audio or video content. Make sure you have a media player that supports this file format. Some popular options include VLC Media Player, Winamp, iTunes, and Windows Media Player.
    2. Download or obtain the .M3U file: You can either download the .M3U file from a website or receive it from someone else.
    3. Open the .M3U file: Right-click on the .M3U file and select "Open with" or "Open" (depending on your operating system). Choose the media player you want to use to open the file. If the media player is not listed, click "Browse" and locate the media player's executable file.
    4. Wait for the playlist to load: Once the .M3U file is opened with the media player, it will load the playlist. This may take a few seconds or longer, depending on the size of the playlist and the speed of your computer.
    5. Play the media: After the playlist is loaded, you can start playing the media files listed in the .M3U file. The media player will typically display the list of files in the playlist, and you can choose the one you want to play by clicking on it.

    Note: In some cases, the .M3U file may contain URLs or file paths instead of actual media files. In such cases, the media player will attempt to stream the content from the provided URLs or play the files from the specified file paths.

    It's important to note that the specific steps may vary slightly depending on the media player and operating system you are using.

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