How to Change iTunes CD Import Settings

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Introduction to Changing iTunes Import Settings

changing itunes import settings, step 1
Open iTunes' Preferences Window.

When you rip CDs, you create digital music files from the songs on the CD. While most people think of MP3s in this case, there are actually a lot of different sorts of digital music files. ​iTunes defaults to using AAC, encoded at 256 Kbps, aka iTunes Plus (the higher the Kbps-–kilobits per second--the better the sound quality).

Despite popular misconception, AAC is not a proprietary Apple format and it is not limited to working only on Apple devices. Still, you might want to encode at a higher (or lower) rate or change to creating MP3 files.

Even though AAC is the 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, others create smaller files. To take advantage of the different kinds of files, you need to change your iTunes import settings.

To change these settings, begin by opening the iTunes Preferences window:

  • On a Mac, go to the iTunes menu and choose Preferences.
  • On Windows, go to the Edit menu and choose Preferences.
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In the General Tab, Choose Import Settings

changing itunes import settings, step 2
Select the Import Settings option.

When the Preferences window opens, it will default to the General tab.

Among all the settings there, the one to focus on is towards the bottom: Import Settings. This controls what happens to a CD when you put it into your computer and begin importing songs. Click Import Settings to open the windows where you can change your options.

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Choose your File Type & Quality

changing itunes import settings, step 3
Choose the file type and quality.

In the Import Settings window, there are two drop-down menus that allow you to set the two key factors that determine the kind of files you'll get when ripping CDs or converting digital audio files: file type and quality.

File Type
You'll choose what kind of audio file is created--MP3, AAC, WAV, or others--in the  Import Using drop down. Unless you're an audiophile or have a very specific reason for choosing something else, almost everyone else selects MP3 or AAC (I prefer AAC because it's a newer file type with better sound and storage features).

Select the type of file you want to create by default when ripping CDs (for tips, check out AAC vs. MP3: Which to Choose for Ripping CDs).

Setting or Quality
When you've made that choice, you next need to decide how good you want the file to sound. The higher quality the file, the better it will sound, but the more space it will take up on your computer or device. Lower quality settings result in smaller files that sound worse.

Click the Quality menu (in iTunes 12 and up) or the Setting menu (in iTunes 11 and lower) and choose from High Quality (128 kbps), iTunes Plus (256 kbps), Spoken Podcast (64 kbps), or create your own Custom settings.

When you've made your changes, click OK to save your new settings. Now, the next time to go to rip a CD (or convert an existing music file on your computer), it will be converted using these new settings.