Convert a song to a different file format with iTunes

Learn how to convert a song to a different file format and keep a copy of the original.

You can use iTunes to convert song files between compressed and uncompressed formats. For example, you might want to import some uncompressed files into iTunes as compressed files to save disk space. Examples of compressed formats are MP3 and Apple Lossless Encoder. Examples of uncompressed formats are AIFF or WAV.

You shouldn't notice reduced sound quality when you: 

  • go from a compressed to an uncompressed format.
  • convert between uncompressed formats.

You might notice reduced sound quality when you:

  • convert between compressed formats.
  • go from an uncompressed to a compressed format.

Learn more about audio compression.

For best results, if you want your music in a different format, import again from the original source and use the new encoding format.

You can convert the format of songs that are in your iTunes library, in a folder, or on a disk.

Convert songs that are already in your iTunes library

  1. Open iTunes Preferences.
    Windows: Choose Edit > Preferences.
    Mac: Choose iTunes > Preferences.
  2. Click the General button, then click the Import Settings button in the lower section of the window.
  3. From the Import Using pop-up menu, choose the encoding format that you want to convert the song to. To save the settings, click OK.
  4. Select one or more songs in your library that you want to convert.
  5. Choose File > Create New Version, then Create [format] Version. The format shown is the one that you chose in step 3. For example, if you chose Apple Lossless Encoder, select Create Apple Lossless Version.

New song files appear in your library next to the original files.

Convert songs from files in a folder or on a disk

If you want to import songs into iTunes, you can import and convert them at the same time. This creates a converted copy of the file in your iTunes Library, based on your iTunes preferences.

To convert all of the songs in a folder or on a disk:

  1. Open iTunes Preferences.
    Windows: Choose Edit > Preferences.
    Mac: Choose iTunes > Preferences.
  2. Click the General button, then click the Import Settings button in the lower section of the window.
  3. From the Import Using pop-up menu, choose the encoding format that you want to convert the songs to. To save the settings, click OK.
  4. Hold down the Option key (Mac) or Shift key (Windows) and choose File > Create New Version > Convert to [import preference]. For example, if you chose Apple Lossless Encoder, select Convert to Apple Lossless.
  5. Select the folder or disk that contains songs that you want to import and convert. iTunes converts all of the songs in the folder or on the disk. 
    Older purchased songs are encoded in a Protected AAC format that prevents them from being converted. Learn how to upgrade these and then convert to another format.

The songs in their original format and the converted songs appear in your library.

Learn more

When you convert a file with iTunes, the original file remains unchanged in the same location. iTunes creates the converted file from a copy of the original. It's helpful to be aware of compression issues like sound quality and file size. Copyright considerations are also important.

About compression

When you convert a song to certain compressed formats, some data might be lost. These compressed formats give you a much smaller file size, which lets you store more songs. But, the sound quality might not be as good as the original, uncompressed format.

You might not hear a difference between a compressed and uncompressed song. This can depend on the song, your speakers or headphones, or your music device.

If you compress a song and it loses data, you can't uncompress it to retrieve the data. If you convert a song from a compressed to an uncompressed format, its quality doesn't improve. The file only takes up more disk space. An example is when you convert a song in MP3 format (a compressed format) to AIFF (an uncompressed format). The song takes up much more space on your hard disk, but sounds the same as the compressed file. To take advantage of uncompressed formats, you should import songs in these formats.

About copyright

You can use iTunes software to reproduce materials. It is licensed to you only for reproduction of:

  • non-copyrighted materials.
  • materials for which you own the copyright.
  • materials you are authorized or legally permitted to reproduce.

If you are uncertain about your right to copy any material, you should contact your legal advisor. For more information, see the iTunes Store Terms of Service.

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