Ask Apple Matters: iTunes MP3 Conversion

by Aaron Wright Aug 14, 2006

This week we’ve got a relatively straight forward question from user dr. tongue. He wants to know how to convert songs to .mp3 format within iTunes. A lot of the more experienced Mac users should know this one, but it’s still something that is little known by many. Along with my answer for this weeks question, you could also try some other software, such as EasyWMA, Mac3Dec and Max, all of which convert from many file types to .mp3 .aac and .wma, and are completely free.

Just a reminder for some of the new guys to Apple Matters. Each week we publish the best question submitted by you guys in the forums. If you’ve got a question regarding Apple Computers, whether it’s a problem or a general inquiry, feel free to drop by our dedicated forums and leave a message. Users and staff of Apple Matters will end up giving you a response and you could see your name and question published here next Monday.

Until then, here’s the ‘Question Of the Week’.

Question Of The Week


Is it possible to convert songs within my iTunes library from the .wma format to .mp3? I’ve noticed you can convert to .aac but there’s no option for .mp3 or any other audio formats.

Are there any programs that can do this for me?

Merci Beaucoup!

Submitted by: dr. tongue


Answer by Aaron Wright: This is actually pretty straight forward. It’s a ‘hidden’ feature, so to speak, in that it’s there and available for everyone to use, but it’s not so obvious to access.

To change the format songs are converted to when imported into iTunes, you need to go to ‘Preferences’, then click on the ‘Advanced’ tab, followed by the ‘Importing’ tab. Here you can change the format songs are converted to when ripped from a CD, but it also changes the default option within iTunes for any existing music you have.

If you want to change to .mp3, change ‘Import Using’ to “MP3 Encoder” via the drop-down list. Once you’ve done that, you can also alter the quality that it’s encoded at. The higher the number, the higher the quality. Generally 128 kbps is good enough, but some people prefer 160 or even 320 (CD Quality).
Once you’ve done that, hit ‘Ok’.

The next step is to locate the song you’re wanting to convert, right click on it and then select ‘Convert Selection to MP3’. You may notice that it has now changed from .aac to .mp3. All sorted.

Hope that helps.

Have a technical question? Drop by our dedicated forums and leave a message. You’re sure to get a reply from one of regular readers or even a member of staff. If you want a more direct answer, however, feel free to e-mail Applematters


  • why on earth iTunes doesnt play wma audio files?

    nana had this to say on Aug 14, 2006 Posts: 63
  • I’m assuming it’s because WMA is a Windows only format, hence, ‘Windows Media Audio’. You could maybe download a codec to allow iTunes to play WMA, but with .MP3 .AAC and .WMV being just as good, if not better, replacements for WMA, why use it?

    Aaron Wright had this to say on Aug 14, 2006 Posts: 104
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