You can convert m4a music files to mp3 format very easily by using the same program that creates m4a files… iTunes! Yes that’s right, iTunes can double as a music file conversion program, and in this case it’s one of the easiest ways known to convert m4a to mp3 that doesn’t require any additional software downloads.
This audio format conversion trick works in all versions of iTunes on any computer whether it’s an OS X Mac or Windows PC.
We’ll walk through each necessary step to convert m4a files to mp3 format with the iTunes application, let’s begin the tutorial.
How to Convert m4a to mp3 with iTunes
The first thing you’ll need to do is launch iTunes and change the default file type for imported audio:
- Open iTunes if you haven’t done so yet
- Go into the iTunes Preferences and under ‘General’ settings you will see an ‘Import Settings’ button, click that and you will see a screen like the one shown below. In this drop down menu, select MP3 Encoder and click ‘Ok’
- Now converting any of your existing m4a files to mp3 files is very easy and you can do it directly within iTunes. Simply select a song that you know is in m4a format, and right-click the song to bring up a menu. With the song selected, navigate to “Create MP3 Version”
With this selected, iTunes will create mp3 files rather than m4a
Now give your computer a few seconds to convert the m4a file to mp3, it will appear at the top of the playlist, and also within the iTunes music folder, which by default is located in ~/Music/iTunes/
That’s it! Now you can convert those pesky m4a files to mp3 with ease.
Do keep in mind that m4a is the the new default format for iTunes and it produces high quality music files, so many users will want to keep them as is, and sometimes you’ll find audio files that must be converted to m4a first before iTunes will read them, which could then be converted to mp3 as described here.
Of course, since not all devices and hardware can read m4a, sometimes the mp3 conversion is necessary for that alone, and some users simply prefer the mp3 format in general for broader compatibility.
You’ll find that iTunes has many tricks up it’s sleeve beyond conversion of audio files like this, if you’re interested check out some other iTunes tutorials and news here, it’s a surprisingly powerful app with a myriad of uses.