What Is an XSPF File?

How to open, edit, and convert XSPF files

What to Know

  • An XSPF file is an XML Shareable Playlist Format file.
  • Open one with VLC, or view the playlist text with a text editor.
  • Convert to M3U or M3U8 with VLC.

This article describes what an XSPF file is and how to open one on your computer. We'll also look at how to save the file to a different playlist format, and explain why you can't convert XSPF to MP4, MP3, or other formats like that.

What Is an XSPF File?

A file with the XSPF file extension (pronounced as "spiff") is an XML Shareable Playlist Format file. They're not media files in and of themselves, but instead just XML text files that point to, or reference media files.

A media player uses this file to determine what should be opened and played in the program. It reads the file to understand where the media content is stored, and plays them according to those instructions. See the example below for an easy understanding of that.

XSPF files are similar to other playlist formats like M3U8 and M3U, but are built with portability in mind. Like the example below shows, that file could be used on anyone's computer, so long as it's in a folder that corresponds to the same file structure as the referenced songs.

You can read more about this format at XSPF.org.

XSPF Files.

A JSON Shareable Playlist Format file is similar to XSPF except is uses the JSPF file extension since it's written in the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format.

How to Open an XSPF File

Since this format is based on XML, a text-only format, any text editor can open the file for editing and viewing the text. See our favorites in this list of the Best Free Text Editors.

However, a program like VLC, Clementine, or Audacious is needed to actually use the file. The XSPF.org website has a list of other XSPF programs.

While it's probably not the case for every program that can open this file type, you might have to open the program first and then use the menu to import/open the playlist file. In other words, double-clicking the XSPF file might not open it directly in the program.

Since you might have a few programs on your computer that can open this file, you might find that when you double-click it, an unwanted application opens it when you'd rather something else be used. Fortunately, you can change the default program that the XSPF file opens in.

How to Convert an XSPF File

It's important to remember that an XSPF file is just a text file. This means you can't convert one to MP4, MP3, MOV, AVI, WMV or any other audio/video file format.

However, if you open one with a text editor, you can see where the media files are physically located and then use a free file converter on those files (but not on the XSPF) to convert them to MP3, etc.

Converting an XSPF file to another playlist file, however, is completely acceptable and easy to do if you have the free VLC media player on your computer. Just open the file in that program and go to Media > Save Playlist to File to convert it to M3U or M3U8.

Online Playlist Creator might be helpful in saving to the PLS or WPL (Windows Media Player Playlist) format.

You can convert from XSPF to JSPF with the XSPF to JSPF Parser.

XSPF File Example

This is an example of an XSPF file that points to four separate MP3s:


As you can see, the tracks are in a folder called mp3s. When the XSPF file is opened in the media player, the software reads the file to understand where to go to pull up the songs. It can then gather these audio files into the program and play them in a regular playlist style.

If you want to convert the files, it's there in the tags that you should look to see where they're actually stored. Once you navigate to that folder, you can have access to the real files and convert them there.

File Still Doesn't Open?

Some files have similar file extensions. However, it doesn't mean that the formats are similar or that the files can be opened with the same tools. Sometimes they can, but it doesn't necessarily mean that's true just because the extensions look the same.

For example, XSPF is spelled much like XSP, but the latter is for Kodi Smart Playlist files. In this instance, the two are playlist files but they most likely can't open with the same software (Kodi works with XSP files) and probably don't look the same at the text level (like you see above).

XSD is another example, as is the LMMS Preset file format that uses the XPF file extension— LMMS is what's required to open one.

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