How to Use iTunes to Create MP3s, AACs, and More

Convert music and audio files to the best formats possible

Artistic rendering of music CDs

 David Angel / Getty Images

When you rip CDs to create digital music files from the songs on the CD, most people think about creating MP3s. But a lot of different kinds of digital music files besides MP3 exist. By default, ​iTunes creates files in the AAC format, encoded at 256 Kbps (the higher the Kbps—kilobits per second—the better the sound quality).

Even though AAC is iTunes' default, you can change the kind of files that iTunes creates when you rip CDs and add them to your music library. Every file type has its own strengths and weaknesses—some have higher-quality sound, and others create smaller files. To take advantage of the different kinds of files, you need to change your iTunes import settings. Here's how.

How to Change the Import Settings in iTunes

  1. Open iTunes and navigate to the Preferences:

    • On a Mac, go to the iTunes menu and choose Preferences.
    • On Windows, go to the Edit menu and choose Preferences.
    Preferences in iTunes on a Mac
  2. On the General tab, click Import Settings.

    Import Settings in iTunes on a Mac
  3. The settings on the next screen control what happens to a CD when you put it into your computer and begin importing songs (or when you use iTunes' built-in music-file conversion feature).

    The Import Using drop-down determines what kind of audio file is created—MP3, AAC, WAV, or others.

    The Import Using settings in Import Settings of iTunes
  4. The Setting menu determines the quality of the files that output. The higher the quality, the better it will sound, but the more space it will take up on your computer or device.

  5. Click OK to save your changes.

    OK button in Import Settings of iTunes
  6. Now, the next time you go to rip a CD (or convert an existing music file on your computer), iTunes will use these settings to save it.