What is an M3U8 file?
M3U8 is a special file type that is used by various audio and video playback websites. It includes all the information that is necessary to download media files.
Video streaming sites use Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) streaming to deliver video. HLS or DASH can be used for that, but they work pretty much the same way. A large MP4 file is broken into a bunch of smaller video files and a manifest file is created to tell the video player how to play the stream. That manifest file is the M3U8, M3U or MPD file. The biggest advantage of using ABR is that you can package different quality levels (bitrates) together and the player can switch between them depending on the network connection.
How to Open an M3U8 File
M3U8 files can be edited and read by most text editors, including Notepad in Windows. However, as you can see below, opening one with Notepad only lets you read the file references. You can’t actually play any of these music files like this because text editors aren’t the same as media player or media management programs.
If you’re looking for a good program to open and use M3U8 files, try VLC, Apple’s iTunes, or Songbird. Another way to open this file format on Linux is with XMMS, while Mac users should be able to use CocoModX (in addition to some of the those Windows-compatible programs).