114 responses

  1. rice
    December 3, 2009

    awesome! thanks a million i hate m4a format this is great. mp3 rules!

    • sakshi
      October 25, 2012

      i cant find the”GENERAL”…please help me

      • Rarmissa
        August 24, 2014

        dude…….. ok press command+comma and it opens up to general, or go to iTunes/prefernces.

  2. jpmrb
    December 3, 2009

    Yeah, let’s replace an audio compression scheme with an older inferior one! Way to go, yeah!

    • Mike
      June 9, 2011

      tell us another way to play them besides IPOD

    • cbenci
      December 4, 2011

      The could be other reasons to want to do this apart from audio quality – such as wanting to play the files on a different device.

      Foolish comment.

    • That guy
      August 28, 2012

      I can hear the sarcasm through your words. You should be a writer.

      Anyways, people would want to change their files into an mp3, though inferior, because some applications such as editing software ( I’m looking at YOU, corel videostudio express!)

      will not recognize an m4a file.

      I hope this helped you understand.

      And if you don’t understand this ending, go ask your parents. Not saying you’re living with your parents…

      It’s a joke… Y’know, an 80’s reference….?

      Why do I try to be funny?

    • Rarmissa
      August 24, 2014

      Seriously, dude. If you have anything other than like a mac or iPod, m4a WON’T play. I actually want to hear my music on the go.

      • Rarmissa
        August 24, 2014

        It’s also kinda a moot point since it keeps the old file and creates an mp3.

  3. papaya
    December 8, 2009

    To convert already compressed audio file is resulting much worse quality of the file.
    Compressed m4a file is first transformed to aiff and that file is transformed to compressed mp3.

  4. Bryan Simms
    December 13, 2009

    I don’t see much point unless you have an mp3 player that won’t support the aac format. I’d like to find an easy way to convert my wma files to aac or mp3

    • Joe Rioux
      November 15, 2011

      The POINT is to convert the proprietary Apple format to a format that is non-proprietary. Then you can share and copy your damn files that you PAID FOR, as much as you like, without iTunes Nazi madness trying to tell you that you can’t.

      • Gazzer
        May 4, 2012

        Except m4a is not a proprietary Apple format – get your facts right. Another one that thinks AAC stands for Apple. No, m4a is actually less patent encumbered that mp3 is. Godwin’s law strikes again.

  5. Sam
    May 29, 2010

    I don’t have the option to create an mp3 version.

  6. John
    December 4, 2010

    Anyone with a ps3 needs to convert to mp3.

  7. price
    December 19, 2010

    THanks a lot, this was incredibly helpful

  8. Alexandra
    December 20, 2010

    Yeah, I just have “convert to AAC version” which also doesn’t work with my mp3 player.

  9. PR
    December 21, 2010

    THANK YOU! This is so helpful and easy to follow. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  10. Keryl
    December 23, 2010

    Thanks sooo much. I have an MP3 player that will only play mp3 or wma, but I want to keep it because it has a built-in microphone. i’ve spent ages trying to work out how to conert files – your instructions are easy.. Brilliant.

  11. Steve
    December 24, 2010

    Those of you saying you only have a Convert to AAC option didn’t follow all the steps above. You need to go into settings and change the default import settings to MP3 encoder.

  12. Jeff
    December 27, 2010

    This worked perfectly. Thanks.

  13. nicole
    December 28, 2010

    omggggg your a lifesaver thank you soooo much

  14. Jessica
    December 30, 2010

    When I pull up my preferences, there is NOTHING anywhere with the option to change it to import mp3. The option isnt even there!

    • Kevin
      April 13, 2012

      Under the general menu, click the icon “Import Settings..” Then, under this new menu should give you the option to change to mp3. It took me a few seconds to figure that out.

      • sakshi
        October 25, 2012

        where is the general menu…i cant find it…

  15. way2go
    December 31, 2010

    thanx. Happy new year

    • Autumn
      February 26, 2013

      Thanks so much. It wasn’t clear as a bell and I almost gave up.. heh heh… but I kept at it and I met with success. Thanks. Now hopefully I can Listen to Ray LaMontagne in my truck! :D

  16. Adam
    January 3, 2011

    Thank you very much. One of my players will not play AAC (m4a) so this is very useful. Exactly why I try to get my music from Amazon or Walmart where they still use mp3.

  17. Becca
    January 5, 2011

    Edit – Preferences – General – When You Insert A CD/Import Settings – select “MP3 Encoder”

    For those of you who couldn’t follow the authors instructions. :)

  18. Becca
    January 5, 2011

    Thank you very much, author! Saved me from purchasing a $39/year converter. Blah!

  19. Tim
    January 7, 2011

    To the OP, that was too easy, ta muchly!!

  20. Joana
    January 8, 2011

    I am really in debt to you for this post! Thank you so much for doing this, to people like me that are so technology impaired these tips are life savers!!! I bought my son a fisher -price mp3 player and all his music was on my i-tunes so it was all in (m4a)!!! and i had not the slightest clue how to fix it!!!

  21. Ori
    January 21, 2011


  22. CJ
    January 25, 2011

    This is terrific. Very straight-forward and clear instructions…and it worked!! Thanks!

  23. Mike
    January 26, 2011

    Take that Playstation 3…you will play my music when I tell you to.

  24. Stan
    February 2, 2011

    This does not work for m4a files which are protected.

  25. SB
    February 2, 2011

    You are so awesome!! I love you for this!

  26. Adam
    February 4, 2011

    Thanks for the help, and btw, Grizzly Bear is my favorite band. I’m super jealous you have Horn of Plenty remix CD. The original is my favorite by them.

  27. Mandi Bridgeman
    February 23, 2011

    Thanks…seriously thought it would be a pain. Probably was the easiest thing I have ever done thanks to you. Check out the mp3’s on my website!

  28. diana
    March 13, 2011

    You are a life saver!!! Thank you so much for teaching me how to navigate itunes.

  29. Smiler
    March 15, 2011

    Ahh! Thanks so much :) Having purchased a few songs off itunes, I still wanted to play them off Windows Media Player but it never did like the M4a format so had to find some way of converting it :)
    Thanks again

  30. Mihir
    March 16, 2011

    Thank u. This was very helpful. Good work.

  31. Amy
    March 22, 2011

    Great info, but this only works for songs imported from CDs, not songs downloaded from the iTunes store.

    • Phil
      April 4, 2011

      @Amy: had the same problem.
      You should try to copy the purchased songs into a playlist or the the general all music section. Mark the song(s) and right click and choose convert to MP3. It’s a step extra but should work and you do not have to use external software once you have changed the settings to MP3 as described above.

  32. Phil
    April 4, 2011

    Easy to do and does not require to download fishy softwares.
    @Amy: had the same problem.
    You should try to copy the purchased songs into a playlist or the the general all music section. Mark the song(s) and right click and choose convert to MP3. It’s a step extra but should work and you do not have to use external software once you have changed the settings to MP3 as described above.

  33. Vanessa
    April 5, 2011

    This was exactly what I needed! Thanks alot! It was sooo easy!!!

  34. Mark
    April 10, 2011

    Finally a good use for that awful piece of software.

  35. Jerome
    April 15, 2011

    Thank you so much, gracias Dios te bendiga, God bless you a lot. Eres el mejor!

  36. Jen
    April 16, 2011

    Beautiful! Thank you.

  37. Karen
    April 17, 2011

    Thank You So Much! It was a breeze….

  38. LD
    April 21, 2011

    Great instructions. So clear. Many thanks.

  39. Steve
    May 3, 2011

    “jpmrb says: Yeah, let’s replace an audio compression scheme with an older inferior one! Way to go, yeah!”

    I just found this thread and the tip was REALLY helpful thanks, To jpmrb – you’re a smarty-pants dickhead with limited imagination as to why others might want to to this. Go back to your colouring-in book and return when you’ve grown up a little – moron.

  40. Julia
    May 4, 2011

    very helpful. Thanks :)

  41. Michael
    May 10, 2011

    Thanks, easy to follow but just causes iTunes to crash each time I click on the ‘MP3 version’ option.

  42. Rebecca
    May 20, 2011

    Thank you so much! I was ready to go nuts when my phone wouldnt play m4a files…

    Got them transferred now, you’re a star!

  43. Caron
    May 22, 2011

    Thank you for this information Mac OS X and Becca it was very helpful…

  44. Gage
    May 25, 2011

    Too easy. Thanks for the great info.
    worked a treat

  45. rob
    June 16, 2011

    does anyone know how to compress an mp3 file? any safe free software out there for this?

  46. Jay
    June 16, 2011

    Thank you very much!! for your help.
    I resolved. here I posted the same in Korean at my blog ;


  47. Marco – Italy
    September 23, 2011

    Many tanks! you saved me!

    • Anonymous
      February 11, 2012

      TANKS?! you mean that you’re going to drive a freakin TANK to him because of what he said?!


      Yes, I made a spelling mistake in my comment (below) too, so jk. =)

  48. Amy
    November 11, 2011

    i feel really thick because everywhere i’ve been people have managed to work it out, but on lion that’s not how my system preferences looks. when i press system prefs > general, there is absolutely nothing on import format. it just lists appearance choices… i’m so lost! haha.

  49. TRS
    November 28, 2011

    I am on iTunes & this option is not there. What next?

    • jim
      January 3, 2012

      For 10.5, go under ‘general’ then click on ‘import settings’, make sure you’re using the MP3 Encoder, then right click on the songs you want to convert and click ‘create MP3 version’

  50. Alan
    December 8, 2011

    Cheers Davit, that has been very helpful. :-)

  51. Wes
    December 14, 2011

    This was so much help! It saved my butt on a school assignment.

  52. Robbie
    January 23, 2012

    Thanks so much! That was TOO EASY!

  53. Tuts
    January 25, 2012

    Thanks Heaps!! Great Tip and very well presented.

  54. al
    January 26, 2012

    i can’t right click on the song on my mac .. should i be able to?

    • Anna
      January 31, 2012

      Yes you should. Well I have Mac and I was able to right click…maybe you don’t have right click enabled on your computer?

  55. Anna
    January 31, 2012

    Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for spending the time to write this on here! You’ve just REALLY helped me!

  56. Gul
    February 4, 2012

    THANKS David!

    It was soooo simple!
    For those who could not find it under ‘General’tab (like me)..
    Open Music/Edit/Preferences/Advanced/Importing. You will see an option ‘Import Using’ with drop down menu. Select ‘Mp3 encoder’ in the menu. Click ‘OK’.

    Have fun converting!


  57. Anonymous
    February 11, 2012

    *Facepalm… I should have seen that button RIGHT THERE IN FRON OF ME a while ago… I was so worried that I had wasted money on songs that I couldn’t send to my Sansa Zip Clip MP3 player. Thank you for the simple directions to save me from worrying.

  58. Lisa
    February 15, 2012

    thank you SO MUCH! This was driving me crazy!!! you rock!

  59. Kenya Starflight
    March 27, 2012

    Thank you so much! Now I don’t feel like downloading iTunes was a waste of time. This was very helpful!

  60. dlm415
    April 2, 2012

    thank you very, very much.

  61. Farfor
    April 4, 2012

    awesome! job

  62. Abbas
    April 17, 2012

    Thank you very much!

  63. kc
    May 10, 2012

    Thank You!

  64. AH
    May 12, 2012

    Thanks for advice, has worked a treat.

  65. Charlie
    June 9, 2012

    It appeared to work but the converted version did not appear in my play list. Where to look?

    • Janice
      September 12, 2012

      I know this is an older query, and I hope you’ve found the answer by now.

      I convert from a playlist, like you. The converted files appear in the main Music library, right at the top.

  66. matias nieves
    July 17, 2012

    graciasss loco un groso!!

  67. shell
    July 22, 2012

    Thank you soooooo much

  68. Davud
    September 19, 2012

    Hey thanks for that works great :)

  69. Alicia
    September 23, 2012

    you are wonderful you child of god. this is the only helpful place for information. thank you thank you!

  70. Lea
    September 26, 2012

    Thanks :) That helped a lot

  71. Priyanka Tiwari
    October 13, 2012

    .m4a files have always been supported by iTunes.

  72. George Mclaren
    October 13, 2012

    As noted, you can simply use iTunes, which is free.
    And there are many other converters that are also free.

  73. Zora Ahmed
    October 13, 2012

    Only when you import CDs.
    As you are doing it, they will be added as M4A.

  74. Pink
    October 13, 2012

    :3 Thank you so much <3 This helped a bunch <3

  75. kds
    November 2, 2012

    Hi, I’ve adjusted the iTunes settings as you described and after right clicking on the first song I need to convert to mp3 I got the error message: “{song}” could not be converted because protected files cannot be converted to other formats.

  76. ltt
    November 18, 2012

    little to the left of subject. What is the best software to convert an m4a file to written text?

  77. Darla
    December 18, 2012

    THIS IS AWESOME! Seemed quite unfair that I purchased them and couldn’t use them on anything but Itunes/apple……love you!!!!

  78. jplox
    December 27, 2012

    cant believe it was so easy.. thank you for sharing this very useful info

  79. Tania
    January 23, 2013

    Great instructions so easy so simple. Thank you so much.

  80. Jeanette
    February 1, 2013

    I did the conversion from m3a to mp3. It said it was going through the process. I did 100 songs. Then when I wanted to burn the mp3 versions to a CD, it said it couldn’t because the songs are not in mp3 format. What the hell did I do wrong????

  81. Jeanette
    February 1, 2013

    ooops. typo. that should say m4a.

  82. Stuart
    February 7, 2013

    Best advice, thankyou. Tried in VLC & didn’t work. Finally a reason to use an Apple product.

  83. Russ in OR
    February 8, 2013

    @kds: You can’t convert files protected by DRM. Your best bet is to burn them to CD then rip them back into mp3.

    @Jeanette: The conversion doesn’t replace the song. It makes another copy in mp3. You need to find those.

  84. Jen K.
    February 12, 2013

    Great advice, works like a charm! iTunes will create mp3 copies in the same folder, I move those copies to my mp3 player and all is well. Many thanks~

  85. Gigi
    February 17, 2013

    THANK YOU!!! you’re a life saver! my file was due today but i didn’t know how to reduce the size but you seriously saved me :)

  86. Nikki
    February 19, 2013


  87. Juan
    March 7, 2013

    Great stuff – thank you for sharing!

  88. April
    March 19, 2013

    I followed the instructions and the m4a is converted to mp3 however, when I tried to import the mp3 it to my movie maker it could not be imported. What am I doing wrong? Please help. Thanks!

  89. Bronwyn
    December 7, 2013

    Thank you so very much. I have spent hours trying to down load and work out how to do this but with your help it took , literally, a minute.
    Very precise directions, thanks again.

  90. Bronwyn
    December 7, 2013

    I need to do it so as to play USB sticks on my new car radio. Thank you again.

  91. Barry
    March 23, 2014

    Mavericks gives you an amazing 3kb “mp3” file, which i assume is just a symlink to the original m4a, FFS!

  92. Rawrel
    August 12, 2015

    Nice!! It works!!
    Itunes 12.1 and Mac OS X 10.5

    Thank you very much!

  93. Dave
    October 15, 2015

    I have converted my music from .m4a to .mp3 with the purpose of loading a USB so that I can listen to my playlist in my car. However, when I copied the converted files to the USB, they automatically reverted to the .m4a format. Does anyone have a suggestion on how I can get my music onto the USB in a usable state? Mac OS 10.10.5 iTunes

  94. VARYA
    December 14, 2015

    thanks for the article, it was so useful for me!!!!

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