Convert m4a (aac) to mp3

I used iTunes to copy songs off the VBS CD, which encoded them in AAC format (M4A container). My video editor doesn’t accept that format, so I needed to convert them to mp3. After trying lots of programs that Google offered me, many of which claimed to be “free” but were really just “free trials”, I finally found the solution in a forum post. It turns out that you can do the conversion right in iTunes, totally free and totally cool.

1. Go into iTunes Preferences, and change the importing mode back to the MP3 mode you like

2. Now select the tracks that you want to change back, and go to the Advanced menu. There is an item called “convert selection to MP3“.

This menu item lists whatever the current setting is in the importing prefs.

Now, this might not be good for the audio quality, but I don’t really care: I don’t listen to music that carefully. Thanks, Hannah W!

120 Responses to “Convert m4a (aac) to mp3”

  1. rosie says:

    it was 2am the night before my video assignment was due, and i couldnt figure out how to do it until this!
    i am eternally in your debt.

    peace and love.

  2. Kayla says:

    Thank you soooo much for this! I’ve been doing videos for my friends and I couldnt figure this out for the life of me!!! I appreciate it soooo much!

  3. Guest says:


  4. Alive 4evermore says:

    Thanks for the useful info concerning converting m4a to mp3!! UR cool…

  5. Nora Dallaire says:

    Ahah! I knew there had to be a way. Thanks, man! *thumbs up*

  6. Dave B says:

    thank dude, that was really bugging me

  7. Thank you for such a simple aac to mp3 process. Works like a charm.

  8. Nick says:

    Thanks work great )))

  9. It really works, thanks for the tip:)

  10. matthieu says:

    Great to write about that…I was desperate! I am trying sooooooon! ;-)

  11. ntog says:

    i dont know why, but i cant find the Importing Mode you said its supposed to be in Itunes preferences..

  12. alanc says:

    Many thanks for the info. It worked great, and I don’t find the quality bad at all.

  13. Hickeydog says:

    Nice, but this process doesn’t work on older downloaded iTunes songs. Stupid Apple and their paranoia.

  14. Rebecca says:

    thank you so much i’ve searched for 4 hours for something to convert my m4a’s to mp3s.

  15. livtiludi says:

    genius! way to go.

  16. anon. says:

    thank you sooooooo much..i have been looking for a converter for ages and now i found one.. SITTING ON MY DESKTOP!!

  17. willie says:

    This actually make s a copy. It does not just convert. If you have thousands of songs you will need to go through individually create the copy and then delete the old and re import the new mp3. There has go to be a more simpler more automated way. Any suggestions? Anyone?

    • Tam says:

      Well, you could highlight the whole music list, right click, hit “create MP3” … then let it run its course and go back when done into your “music” library, sort by song title, and manually delete every other one— or just leave ’em there if you don’t mind the overload, but that might be a bit much on the hard drive.

      anyway, you piqued my interest so I searched the help file in itunes and couldn’t find anything that addressed coverting a whole block of songs – it only discussed one-by-one.

  18. heather says:

    In reading the original post, I tried to convert a song to mp3, but I’m still seeing it show up as m4a. Also, I couldn’t find how to change in import in itunes. Is that for songs that you purchase from itunes? Where do you find that option under preferences? Thanks for any help.

    • tom says:

      no – you can’t do this with songs purchased from iTunes.

      otherwise, wicked good tip. Thanks!

      • Tam says:

        you actually can (unless I’m missing something) but I converted songs purchased through itunes using this wonderful tip.

        The exact steps are:

        Edit>> Preferences>> Import Settings (mid page/right side)>> Import Using (select MP3 or other if WAV file is desired)
        Then you go into a playlist and right click on a song. Near the top of the selections it will give a “Create MP3 Version” choice. Click on it. That will convert it in your main “music” list. You may have to right click on the title and hit “get info” to see which is your MP3 and which is itunes (m4a) version, but it’s generally the second in line (and will state MPEG audio file after “kind”). You can even drag it directly from the itunes “music” file into your Windows Media Player library.

  19. Keenan says:

    Im trying to convert a song into MP3 but i cant find itunes preferences what should i do

  20. ME!! says:


  21. andrew says:

    wow. this is so amazing. ive been looking for something like this for so long and here it is right in freakin itunes. dude you are awesome. thank you so much!!!

  22. remoncy says:

    I think this AAC to MP3 Converter is a professional software which can convert AAC to MP3 music files easily.

  23. dylan says:

    very helpful. i knew that itunes could do this (had done it on a friend’s mac), but my itunes kept saying “create aac version” instead of “create mp3 version”. your tip helped big time.

  24. Nikki says:

    Thanks so much! I’ve tried and tried to do this! So helpful!!!!

  25. J-Fizzle says:

    thanks a lot, i had no idea it was that easy

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