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.

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

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

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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.

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

    (Currently v3.0.8, macos or Windows)

        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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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 🙁

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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?

  14. 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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