How to Make Your Own CDs With iTunes

burn CDs

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These days, our iPhones or other mobile devices are where our music libraries live. Having instant access to thousands of songs literally in your pocket is pretty much the best way ever to enjoy your favorite music.

But what if you want to create a custom collection of songs to share with other people? Sure, a shared playlist is nice, but that can require the person you're sharing the playlist with to subscribe to Apple Music or Spotify. No, sometimes you still have to do things the old-fashioned way (You know, the way we did in 1998). Sometimes, you just need to burn a CDs.

Despite all of the things it can do, the iPhone can't burn a CD for you. But iTunes can. In fact, creating your own custom CDs using iTunes is pretty simple. 

Create a Playlist to Burn to CD

burn CD with iTunes, step 1

To burn a CD in iTunes, begin by creating a playlist. The exact steps for creating a playlist depend on what version of iTunes you're using, but all recent versions generally follow something like these steps:

  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Click New.
  3. Click Playlist.
  4. The new playlist appears in the left-hand column of iTunes. Begin typing to give it name, then click Enter/Return to save the name.

You can burn a song to CD an unlimited number of times. You are limited, however, to burning 5 CDs using the same playlist. After 5, you need to make a new playlist to burn more CDs. Additionally, you can only burn songs that are authorized to play through your iTunes account.

Add Songs to the Playlist

burn CDs with iTunes, step 2

Once you've created the playlist, you need to add music to the playlist and put it in the order you want it to be on the CD by following these steps:

  1. Add songs to the playlist. There are two ways to do this. Begin by navigating through your music library to find the song you want to add. Then, either drag and drop the songs onto the playlist in the left-hand column, or click the ... icon next to the songs, then click Add to Playlist, and then click the name of the playlist you want to add the song to.
  2. Once you've added all the songs you want to the playlist, you need to put the songs in the order you want them on the CD. The simplest way to do this is just to drag and drop the songs into the order you want.  
  3. If you want iTunes to do some sorting for you, though, there are some options. Click View, then click Sort By. Your options there are:
    1. Playlist Order: The drag-and-drop order from Step 2.
    2. Name: Alphabetical by song name.
    3. Genre: Alphabetical by genre name, grouping songs from the same genre together alphabetically by genre.
    4. Year: Groups songs by the year they were released.
    5. Artist: Alphabetical by artist name, grouping songs by the same artist together.
    6. Album: Alphabetical by album name, grouping songs from the same album together.
    7. Time: Songs arranged longest to shortest, or vice versa.
    8. If you sort using one of these options, you can also choose to view the sorted playlist in Ascending or Descending order.
  4. When you're finished with all your changes, click Done

Insert a Blank CD and Choose Burn Settings

burn CDs with iTunes, step 3

Once you have the playlist in the order you want, follow these steps:

  1. Insert a blank CD into your computer.
  2. After the CD loads, click File.
  3. Click Burn Playlist to Disc.
  4. In iTunes 11 or later, a pop-up window will ask you to confirm the settings you want to use when burning your CD. Those settings are:
    1. Preferred Speed: This controls how quickly iTunes creates your CD. In most cases, you'll want Maximum Possible.
    2. Disc Format: To make a CD that can be played in stereos, cars, and other standard CD players, choose Audio CD. To burn a disc of the MP3s of the songs so they can be transferred to another computer, but can only be played in CD players that support MP3 CDs, choose MP3 CD. To create a CD or DVD that stores only data and is only used in a computer, choose Data CD or DVD.
    3. Gap Between Songs: If you choose Audio CD, you can control how much silence there is between each song. Some CDs are designed to be listened to without the short gaps of silence between songs. These "gapless" CDs are often used for classical music and concert recordings, among others. Find the menu labeled Gap Between Songs. The drop-down menu next to it lets you choose how long the silence between songs will be. For a gapless CD, choose none.
    4. Use Sound Check: The Sound Check feature of iTunes checks all of the songs on your playlist and tries to adjust them to equal volume (not all songs are recorded at the same volume).
    5. Include CD Text: Some CD players, especially in cars, can display the song title or artist name for the song that's playing. If you have one of those CD players and want this information to appear when the CD is playing, check this box.
  5. When you've selected all of your settings, click Burn.
  6. At this point, iTunes will begin to burn the CD. The display at the top center of the iTunes window will display the progress.
  7. When it's complete and your CD is ready, iTunes will alert you with a noise.

Now you've got your own custom-made CD. You can listen to it using iTunes to make sure it came out how you wanted and then it's ready  to give away, use in your car, or do whatever else you'd like.