Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How To Play M3U Music In Safari:
2014 Edition



Back in time, circa the middle of 2010, some terrible things happened to QuickTime. I continue to wonder if Apple's QuickTime wunderkind left the company, leaving people who remained to pick up the pieces when QuickTime was made 64-bit. I recall writing to Apple a few times about what followed. To date, QuickTime 10 remains hobbled compared to QuickTime 7. It has no 'QuickTime Pro' option. It has taken years for Apple to finish updating the QuickTime components to 64-bit. It has literally been an incoherent mess, forcing serious QuickTime users to still use QuickTime 7 for full functionality. Explain that to me Apple, please.

One of the casualties of Apple blundering through the QuickTime 10 update has been the total loss of functionality playing M3U files on the web through Safari. Despite the QuickTime Internet Plugin being 100% capable of playing M3U linked audio files, Apple broke the connection ability in Safari 5 and lazily left it that way. Explain that to me Apple, please.


I know someone or other is going to disagree with my assertion above. So here's how you can prove I am correct:

1) Grab any M3U file off a website. Amazon is a great place to find them. They're what Amazon uses to play samples of tunes they sell as MP3s.

2) Drop the M3U file onto TextEdit and view the URL buried within.

3) Copy the M3U URL.

4) Open QuickTime Player 10.

5) Hit Command-L ('Open Location…') to open the URL entry box.

6) Paste in the M3U URL.

7) Click 'Open'. See the linked M3U audio file play perfectly. Shake your head at Apple trying to figure out why they cut access to this functionality out of the QuickTime plug-in. It's beyond comprehension.


When you click on an M3U link in Safari, what you get is an M3U file downloading to your Mac. Double-click the file and it iTunes will open, follow the M4U link and play the tune for you. I find this to be unacceptable. I don't want iTunes running when I'm browsing the Internet, cleaning up after Apple's bungled QuickTime plug-in. I want the tune to play INSIDE Safari, as intended.

So what plug-in can we use instead?

I believe it's still possible to finagle around with RealPlayer plug-in, if you want to bother with it. I don't. I don't know what's the point of RealPlayer any more.

That leaves the Adobe Flash plug-in. Oh no. If you read my Mac-Security blog you know that Flash is the second-most dangerous, insecure plug-in you can use on the Internet, second only to Oracle's awful Java plug-in. But thankfully, some bright and brilliant people at Apple now take OS X security seriously, and have written some excellent plug-in control into Safari. This helps to keep nasty Flash malware off our Macs. But it also means that the old methods for getting Flash to play M3U files has changed. Therefore, here is the new, current, 2014 Edition of…

How To Play M3U Music In Safari

Below, I'm providing a method for setting up Flash to play M3U tunes at Amazon. But this method applies to any website where you encounter M3U files. Simply substitute that website in the first step:

1) Visit an page with MP3s you can sample and buy.

2) Open up Safari Preferences. (Command-comma)

3) Click open the ‘Security’ tab.

4) Go to the bottom and check ON “Internet plug-ins” Allow Plug-ins”.

5) Click the button “Manage Website Settings

6) In the drop-down page, click on “Adobe Flash Player”, likely at the top of the list.

7) On the right of the page, scroll UP to the TOP of the ‘Adobe Flash Player’ sub-window. You should see “Currently Open Websites” as a header with “” listed below (or other web page from step 1).

8) Click the popup menu and select “Allow”. 
(Please never, ever choose ‘Allow Always’ or ‘Unsafe Mode’ as they invite Flash security exploits. And that's a bad thing).

9) Click the ‘Done’ button.

10) Close the Safari Preferences window.

11) Reload the Amazon page (or other web page from step 1)

Tada! The Amazon play buttons will now actually play music within Safari.

You’ll also see a new header menu above the tunes labeled ‘Samples’ as well as a back button, ‘Preview all songs/Pause’ button, Forward button and volume slider.

M3U functionality restored!

Here are a couple images to help illustrate the instructions. Click to blow them up for viewing:

I hope you find this helpful!