How to Convert AAC to MP3 With iTunes

If you prefer MP3s, iTunes can deliver them for DRM-free tracks

iTunes window with iTunes logo

 Apple, inc.

Songs from the iTunes Store and Apple Music use the AAC digital audio format. AAC generally offers better sound quality and smaller files than MP3, but some people still prefer MP3. If you're one of them, convert your music from AAC to MP3 using iTunes. There's an audio file converter built into iTunes that converts AACs to MP3s.

Only songs that are DRM-free can be converted from AAC to MP3. If a song has DRM (Digital Rights Management), it can't be converted, since conversion could remove the DRM.

Change iTunes Settings to Create MP3s

The first step is to make sure the iTunes file conversion feature is set to create MP3 files. It can produce many kinds of files, including AAC, MP3, and Apple Lossless.

To enable iTunes to create MP3 files:

  1. Launch iTunes.

  2. On a Windows PC, go to Edit > Preferences. On a Mac, go to iTunes > Preferences.

    Preferences menu item in iTunes
  3. On the General tab, select Import Settings.

    Import Settings button in iTunes preferences
  4. Select the Import Using dropdown arrow and choose MP3 Encoder.

    MP3 Encoder in iTunes Import Settings
  5. Select the Setting dropdown arrow and choose a quality setting. Choose either the Higher Quality setting, which is 192 kbps or choose Custom and select 256 kbps.

    Don't use anything lower than the current bit rate of the AAC file being converted. If you don't know it, find it in the song's ID3 tags.

  6. Select OK.

How to Convert AAC to MP3 Using iTunes

To convert an AAC music file to MP3 format in iTunes:

  1. Select the songs you want to convert to MP3. To select multiples files, press Ctrl on Windows or Command on Mac and click each file.

  2. Go the File menu.

  3. Select Convert.

  4. Select Create MP3 Version.

    Create MP3 Version menu item in iTunes

    ITunes notifies you if any of the songs you choose cannot be converted due to DRM restrictions. Deselect those songs to proceed.

  5. Wait while the files are converted.

  6. When the conversion from AAC to MP3 is complete, the iTunes Library contains a copy of the song in each format.

    To find out if a file is in AAC or MP3 format, select the file and press Ctrl+I on Windows or Command+I on a Mac to display the song information window. Then, go to the File tab and look in the Kind field.

  7. If you don't want the ACC files, delete the song files from iTunes.

How to Get the Best Sound Quality for Converted Files

Converting a song from AAC to MP3 (or vice versa) can result in a loss of sound quality for the converted file. That's because both formats keep the file size small by using compression technologies that reduce some sound quality at high and low frequencies. Most people don't notice this compression.

This means that AAC and MP3 files are already compressed. Converting the song to a new format further compresses it. You may not notice this difference in audio quality, but if you have great ears or great audio equipment, you might.

Ensure the best audio quality for files by converting from a high-quality original, rather than a compressed file. For example, ripping a song from CD to MP3 is better than ripping it to AAC and then converting to MP3. If you don't have a CD, find a lossless version of the original song to convert.