What is the difference between ‘Categories’, ‘Playlists’ and the ‘Queue’

Poweramp is a very powerful and flexible music player, and as such has a variety of ways to choose how to listen to your music, and in which order you’d like to hear your songs played.


In Poweramp, the term Category [which in Poweramp v2 used to be referred to as ‘List’, and it still is in a few menus] refers to the overall ‘grouping’ structure which you use to browse your music collection and order your songs. The most common Category choices are things like Albums, Folders, Artists or Playlists, however there are many others available such as Genres, Recently Added Songs, and even All Songs (which creates one very long list of songs).

To choose a Category for browsing your music collection, tap on the ‘four-squares’ icon in the lower-left-hand corner of the Poweramp screen, which will take you to the main Library overview screen. Choose your preferred Category from the list by tapping on it - perhaps that might be Albums or Folders. You can then continue to browse down through your music collection arranged by that Category until you get to an actual list of Songs. Tap on any song title to commence playback from that song onward - or just tap on the Play icon (‘triangle’) near the top of any list to commence playback from the beginning of the displayed list.

You can adjust the sorting order (which affects both your browsing and playback order) by tapping on the menu icon (‘three-dots’) at the upper-right and choosing List Options. Each Category type can be assigned its own independent sorting order and view style, as can the Song lists. For example, when using Albums mode you might prefer to see a large grid of album-cover images, arranged by the year of release. Alternatively, when browsing using Folders mode you might want a more compact text-based view, sorted by the directory path. And at the Songs level, you might wish to arrange Albums by Track Number, but sort your Folders based on the individual Filenames.

Note: Using List Options at the top Library View allows you to ‘declutter’ the Library screen by selecting which Categories you wish to see displayed, hiding anything you don’t currently plan to use. You can always restore hidden items later if you find you want them.


During playback, you may find you’d like to temporarily pause and interrupt your normal album/folder/etc session in order to listen to some specific track (or tracks). This can be done without losing your place in your regular playback category by using Poweramp’s Queue feature.

First, find the additional songs(s) that you wish to listen to - either by browsing through one of the Library Categories, or by using the Search feature. Long-press on your chosen song title (or titles, using multi-selection tick-boxes) and tap on Add to Queue (shown as a ‘>> Queue’ icon). If there are already songs waiting in the Queue the new items will be added to the end of the list, or you can use the Play Next icon instead if you wish to insert the new items at the beginning of the Queue. You can also use Add to Queue or Play Next from any Category view if you want to add whole albums/folders/etc in one go.

By default, the Queue will commence playback after the currently playing song has finished, and then all of your queued items will be played in the order that they were added. If you’d like your queued songs to start playing as soon as you add them, you can enable that via Settings > Library > Queue > Start Playing Queue Immediately.

Once all of the queued songs are finished, Poweramp will automatically return you to normal playback exactly where you left off, although that behaviour can also be adjusted using Settings > Library > Queue > On Queue End.

It is possible to subsequently adjust the contents, and the playback order, of the Queue by using Library > Queue and long-pressing on any song title in the Queue. The options are somewhat more limited compared to other view types as the Queue is not designed to be a regular playback category, merely a temporary interruption to normal playback.


Playlists are a special Category in their own right, and each one consists of a list of songs (which must already be present in your Music Library) which should be played in a pre-defined order. Playlists are somewhat similar to the Queue, except that they are more permanent and are considered to be a regular playback category rather than just a temporary interruption.

Playlists can be created internally within Poweramp by long-pressing on any Song title(s) when browsing through the Categories, or from Search results, and selecting Add to Playlist (‘+ Playlist’ icon) in exactly the same way that you add songs to the Queue. You can add new songs to an existing Playlist, or start a fresh one and give it a new name.

It is also possible to add the contents of a whole Category entry in one go – such as by long-pressing on (for example) an album title or folder name and choosing Add to Playlist. You can even save the current Queue into a permanent Playlist by multi-selecting all of the songs in the Library > Queue view and choosing Add to Playlist.

You can re-order or remove songs by long-pressing while viewing any Playlist via the Library > Playlists, or use Menu (the ‘three-dots’ icon) > List Options for more choices.

File-based Playlists (such as .M3U files)

In addition to the above ‘internally-created’ Playlists (which are stored in a database within the app, and thus may be lost if you uninstall example) you can also use external file-based Playlists. Playlist files, at their simplest, just contain a series of lines of plain text which give the filename for each song and the associated folder that contains it. Note: Full directory paths are ignored by Poweramp in order to avoid potential conflicts if you copy a Playlist from one device to another; only the filename and the first folder level must be exact matches.

External Playlist files normally have an extension of .M3U or .M3U8, and are shown as such in the Library > Playlists view. Note: There is no difference between the information contained within these two file types, however .M3U8 files are saved using the more advanced UTF-8 Unicode text-encoding method and are thus capable of handling more complex/international characters in filenames, whereas M3U is only guaranteed to work with simple ASCII text.

Exporting Internal Playlists (for backup)

As stated above, internally created playlists are saved in a local database so are subject to loss if you uninstall the app or remove the original song files for example. For this reason it is possible to export/backup all of your internal playlists as permanent physical file copies using Settings > Library > Playlists > Export Poweramp Playlists. These are saved as .M3U8 files, by default in the /Playlists/ folder on your device’s internal storage. You can copy these backed-up files to another device or use them in other apps.

Note: There is no need to take any specific action to re-import file-based playlists, all you need to do is ensure they are placed in a location that Poweramp has been configured to scan for music content – i.e. any storage location that is ticked in Settings > Library > Music Folders. Poweramp should notice and automatically load any new .M3U or .M3U8 files during its next scan, or you can force a scan using the Rescan or Full Rescan options. As long as the songs in a playlist file are already present in Poweramp’s overall music library, you can see the populated content via the Library > Playlists view.