How to Access, Manage and Use Playlists in VLC

VLC Media Player for your desktop/laptop has a playlist feature that allows you to create, organize and play a list of songs/videos. You can sort out MP3, WAV and other music files along with video formats and add them to a single playlist. Multiple things can be done with a playlist. Songs can be added, deleted and the media in there can be sorted as per the preference. The playlists can be saved and opened at any time. VLC supports and can open a number of playlist formats like .xspf, .asx, .b4s and .m3u. In case of saving, VLC can export your current list into XSPF (*.xspf),  M3U (*.m3u) and M3U8 (*.m3u8) formats.

Accessing VLC’s Playlist Feature

From your VLC player’s main window, use the menubar and navigate to View > Playlist or use the shortcut key CTRL + L. The current playlist will open in a separate window.


Note: Also notice the menu on the left which can be used to access:

  • Media Library
    • Playlist
    • Media Library
  • My Computer
    • My Videos
    • My Music
    • My Pictures
  • Devices
    • Discs
  • Local Network
    • mDNS Network Discovery
    • Network streams (SAP)
    • Universal Plug’n’Play
  • Internet
    • Podcasts
    • Jamendo Selections
    • Icecast Radio Directory

The space on the right will display your current playlist. The media files that you currently are playing and those that were added on will be displayed there.

Playlist View Mode and Display Size

Once you have accessed the playlist, the size and style of the items in there can be changed. Just right click and from the menu that pops up, use the Display Size and Playlist View Mode sub-menus. There are four view modes: (1) Icons, (2) Detailed list, (3) List and (4) PictureFlow. Similarly, you can use the increase and decrease under display size to magnify or reduce the size of the items on the current screen.

Managing the Playlist

The current playlist view will display only the current files in your playback queue. However, any media files can be added, removed or updated on the list.

Adding Media Files

To add media files or even playlists, just right-click on the playlist and choose either one of the following options:

  • Add File: It will allow selection of one or multiple files inside the same location.
  • Add Folder: It will allow the selection of entire folders. One or more than one folder can be selected at one time.
  • Advanced Open: Choose a number of files or folders from your local storage, disc drive, network, and internet or capture devices.

Browse Media Files

When you select one of these options, a dialog box will open. You can easily browse and add any files and folders as per your preference. We can also simply click, drag and drop media files and playlists on the window and that will add them to the current list. Remember that any new media or playlist that you drag or open will be appended to the end of the current list.

Once the list is open and all set to go, you can easily play any song on the list. VLC will continue playing all the items on the list one after the other or in a random way. It can also stop after one item or will repeat the whole list or even just repeat individual items based on what repeat mode settings have been applied.

Removing Media Files

Like adding, media files can be easily removed if you no longer want it to be played. Just click on one or highlight multiple media files first. Then, right-click and choose the Remove Selected option. You can also simply hit the delete or backspace key after highlighting.

Sorting the Playlist

The right-click menu is a star when it comes to sorting the playlist. Just right click and select the sub-menu Sort by.

We can sort by ascending or descending order on the following basis:

  • Title
  • Artist
  • Album
  • Track
  • URI
  • Disc number

We can also click, hold and drag individual items on the list and move them up and down for custom sorting.

Saving or Exporting Playlist

After you have a list set up with all your favorite songs and videos, sorted in the fashion you want it to be, you can export and save it for future playback. Just right click and choose the sub-menu Save Playlist to File. A dialog will open which allows us to browse and save the current list as *.xspf, *.m3u, *.m3u8, and *.html. The HTML file is just for generating a nice list and cannot be opened by VLC for playback. So, use the rest of the file formats for saving your playlist.

For example: If you save the playlist as mylist.m3u, you can open it using VLC Media Player. Then, songs in the list will be opened and played.

Docked Playlist

Docking a playlist will display it within the main VLC window. It won’t open a separate window for the playlist.

To dock the playlist, go to- View > Docked Playlist and make sure that this option is checked.

When the option is activated, it will use one window. It is really great when you are using VLC to play audio lists. You won’t get visualizations but will get a single window for the list and playback controls. You won’t have to go back and forth between the controls and the list. If a video is played using this method, the software will open the video exclusively in a separate window. If you always want the video to open in an exclusive window, go to Tools > Interface > Integrate video in interface and uncheck the option.

66 thoughts to “How to Access, Manage and Use Playlists in VLC”

  1. no dice, , fails to show the playlist window, i have to right click and mous hover to se ethe playlist, that loads the first item last and second item first., would be nice if it worked like in screenshots, instad all i get is album art only for every song.

  2. I can’t seem to add titles to the playlist and nor can I split the files into two albums which is what they are. How to do this?

  3. How come, when I open a docked playlist, it now takes up a good portion of the top half of the window? This is not the way the playlist functioned before. I simply want a playlist on the right hand side showing what I have on deck. I don’t want to use your library, I don’t want to integrate, I just want to watch the videos I have selected and not have them as a tiny little box in the corner. I understand I can resize things, but my question is: WHY THE F*CK IS IT LIKE THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    It wasn’t always like this. Congratulations, you ruined your software. Reminder; VLC stands for *VIDEO*Lan Client. Back to WMP it is.

  4. I’m in a songwriting group where 20 other people submit their song and post it in Discord. We use VLC to play the songs. I was able to make a playlist with all the songs of the week. But I can’t share it with the group. Each time I go to share it (all on iPhone) it posts the songs individually.

  5. I can’t get it to play the list in order. It will either keep laying the first entry over and over, or it will play them in random order. There’s is nothing intuitive about the way any of this works, and the instruction don’t work.

    1. Damn it. Same problem here, more or less. Random order of playing in playlist. Why? Until yesterday I never had that problem, and I’m pretty sure I never changed any options as it was working just fine the way I wanted it. Now everything is just scrambled and I can’t undo it. What gives?

  6. it wont work for me even with the steps mentioned above. in addition, it plays videos on “direct output” with no controls. am i going to have to delete and reinstall?

  7. Hi there, I have VLC on my Mac and would like to create the playlists and share to my ipad. On Mac when I click View there is no option to make a playlist, ? I understand how to use the wifi transfer, I’d like to make the playlist once and share to my other devices if possible. If not will have to recreate on each device which seems very 1995. thanks!

  8. I’m running VLC on a Raspberry Pi 400. I’ve created a playlist with both videos and photos. When I play the list, the screen flashes back to the playlist screen three times before it plays each video. I’m trying to run this as a display in a commercial setting and this will not do. I’ve done web searches and played around with suggested settings and nothing alleviates this issue. Any ideas?
    Also, when I first set-up the play list, I can move exactly two files. After that, I can’t drag and drop anything or change the order.

  9. Is there a way to get VLC player to remember where I am in a playlist after I close and reopen it? I just want it to continue on from where I left off last time. I tried using bookmarks, but they’re gone when I come back.

  10. Gutted the latest revision of VLC is rubbish for music playlists!
    It used to be easy, open playlist chuck some songs in and it would play them in order… now you cannot do this anymore!
    It wants to copy my 760gb of MP3 into its own library then make perminant play lists.. i dont want to do that, i want to just select a few songs and have them play.. then i can change it when im bored with that list…

    Now going to have to look for another app for my MP3 files… Shame as used to love VLC! 🙁

    1. What are you talking about? I select files and add them to a playlist all the time. I have over a tb of files and I can select whole folders or individual tracks. You’re experiencing an 1D-10T error. And stop misusing “…”, ffs.

  11. Is there a way to play the playlist without opening it, selecting songs in the list, then choosing play? I’m looking for something like just right-clicking on “Playlist” and choosing play from there (currently, this will play the entire music library instead of just the playlist).

  12. Is there a way to specify a source folder to use as the play list and then VLC will automatically update the playlist with whats in the folder? This way when we add or remove content in the folder it will automatically update the play list without us having to go update the playlist our self.

  13. How do you move the Track number over to the left in the playlist? Title is stuck to the left and won’t move.

  14. Hi Im using manjaro ornara 21.0 OS with the VLC when I save my video playlist as a file (.XSPF) when I open it only play the audio track and does not show the video please help

  15. When having started playing all songs from the library window, is there a way to add a song to a playlist while it is playing?

    1. Hi Frustrated Programmer. I think that your question is for StackOverflow. But, I understand how frustrated you must be.

  16. I recently migrated my media files to a new hard drive on the same computer, including playlist files. The filepaths all updated to the new E:/ drive but are otherwise the same, and my playlists are still trying to find the files on D:/ where they used to be. Any way to update the playlist, either per-file or en masse? Thanks.

  17. There’s so much stuffing around to create XML type XSPF files to build a playlist outside VLC (or other players).
    How about an “import playlist” option which imports a text file with a path and file name on each line (and not requiring hex conversion for spaces etc)?

  18. VLC needs a pane where multiple playlists can be seen and simply clicked on. Windows Media player has this.

  19. is it possible to set different equalizations for each playlist and have them saved so that when a playlist is selected it will play with the saved EQ?

  20. VLC for Mac won’t stop playing videos in random order even though I’ve unchecked the box play files randomly forever and saved.

  21. Would you please include a featura “last added” in “list order”. Normaly I want to ear the last added songs, and not the old ones. Now the player doesn’t have that feature. Thank you

    1. I wish the same, seems like VLC is unable to add such a simple feature even a lot of users aks for it over a decade.

  22. Thank you for providing such a robust media player. I think the answer is probably no to this, but is there any way to export individual songs from a playlist that is made up of one long file? I have some concerts that are 1 file, but the playlist sorts out the songs. With all the other conversion capabilities of the app, it doesn’t seem like a big stretch to provide the feature… but hey, I’m the guy with clearly no playlist experience in VLC, so wwhat do I know. Thanks again for such a lovely and reliable app!

  23. Is it possible to have VLC display the name of the playlist file that is currently playing in VLC? Many times I add or delete files from a playlist, then I want to re-save the playlist with the original name and write over the original playlist. Most of the time I can’t remember the name of the playlist that’s playing in VLC because the names of the majority of my numerous playlists are just the dates that they were created,. And if the highlight of the last playlist selected in my playlist folder has moved, or if I’ve closed the playlist folder, I’m out of luck

  24. Does anyone know if there’s a way to configure the playlist to include the file’s date? I would like to be able to sort playlists by the created date of the file.

    1. If you right click on an empty area in the playlist, it will show us that we can only sort by title, artist, album, track number, URI and disc number.

  25. How can I remove predefined Internet playlists, namely Podcast, Jamendo Selections & Icecast Radio Directory?

    (Currently v3.0.8, macos or Windows)

      1. Thanks.
        Does than mean that it is not possible?
        If so,why? Is VLC supposed to enforce any third-party service?

        1. Open File Explorer
          C:\Program Files (x86)\VideoLAN\VLC\lua\sd
          Make a new folder; call it “spam” (renaming the folder may also work?) Move the files that you want removed into this folder, they should be named like the following: Jamendo.luac, icecast.luac, etc.
          Open VLC, they’re gone.

  26. Is there a way when using a playlist on random to set it so it only plays a given video a single time ? at least until it has played every video in the list?

  27. I have 25000+ mp3s on my computer, if some asks me for a certain song…how can i enter songs name and have “the song” pop up
    thanks in advance

  28. Hi I can’t see any items on the left side menu of the playlist like Media Library, My Computer, Devices, Local Network
    Internet. It’s totally empty.

    1. Hey, I had this exact same issue and I solved it without a re-install — that’s the most kludgy solution to any computer problem IMHO.

      But you haven’t told us what is it that you do see? Can you show the PlayList? Even if blank? If yes, then, with that as a starting point, I can lead you on to how to see all those other good stuff.

      First move your cursor (mouse) to the left boundary of the VLC window – just before it hovers over the edge, it should change into a double-sided horizontal arrow indicating that the playlist tree is hidden there. That’s how it happened for me. Just pull it to the right to expose the tree.

      For me, even then nothing showed because the ‘Album Art’ preview quadrant was full height of the VLC window. So I moved the cursor up to the upper edge just below the menu bar (or whatever is the lowest bar visible on top of your VLC window). Again the cursor changed to a double-headed but vertical arrow for me. I clicked and pulled the ‘Album Art’ preview quadrant down, shortening it and exposing the entire tree with everything showing like, playlist, jamendo, podcast etc etc.

  29. I have two saved playlists, and I decide to check out a new song, so I double click it, and it loads into VLC. I like the song, so I want to add it to one of the saved playlists. I’m hoping there’s something simple like right click and select add to playlist, but I don’t see that 🙁

  30. If I set up a playlist using the standalone VLC pc player – will I then be able to use that playlist in the VLC App? I ask because the playlist feature in the App is the worst I have ever seen.

  31. I have already created a Playlist with web URL’s. Now I want to remove and add URL’s to the existing list. After appending the Playlist and Saving with the new files, the Playlist is valid for 6 hour only. After 6 hours, I get error messages for ALL URL’s – even the ones that were working previously. I have tried this more than a dozen times and the Playlist is only good for 6 hours. If I start from scratch, and use the EXACT SAME URL’s, the freshly created playlist is fine. Why does and appended playlist only last for 6 hours?

  32. I tried using this playlist on my site and the song titles come up as “undefined” – How do I get it to show the song name?

  33. this does not cover how to set up playlists in an android phone…the app is clumsy and hard to use. I am not going to detail all the problems here because it takes up time. Basically it would be nice to stack up albums or songs by selecting them from the phone. Been all through the menus with no help. Determining that I could not do it, I went to this help which is no help. The selection and controls are to vague and invisible, if they exist at all. There does not seem to be any app that will do what I want.

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