The Best Way to Rip Scratched CDs in iTunes

iTunes can help you salvage those old CDs

What to Know

  • For best results, enable error correction in Preferences.
  • To enable in Windows, go to Edit > Preferences > General > Import Settings > Use Error Correction When Reading Audio CDs.
  • For macOS, go to iTunes > Preferences > General > Import Settings > Use Error Correction When Reading Audio CDs.

This article explains how to enable error correction in iTunes. Instructions apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and macOS.

Is There a Remedy for Scratched CDs?

As the aging compact disc has declined in popularity (due to the uptake in digital music), you may want to archive your collection of audio CDs. However, transferring songs from scratched CDs doesn't always go as planned.

Depending on the severity of the scratches, you may be able to use the default rip settings in iTunes to import tracks successfully. However, even if the iTunes software rips the tracks without complaining, there could still be problems.

When you play the digital music files, you might find they aren't perfect. You may hear audio errors such as pops, clicks, breaks in the songs, or other strange noise glitches. These sound imperfections are because the laser in the CD/DVD drive can't read the data correctly.

So, on the surface, all can seem fine when using the default settings in iTunes to rip scratched CDs. However, there's always a chance that the encoding process won't be perfect. Short of using another third-party CD ripping tool, is there anything else that you can do in iTunes to get a better rip?

Using Error Correction Mode in iTunes

Normally when you rip a CD without error correction enabled, iTunes ignores the ECC codes encoded on the disc. Enabling this feature uses these codes in combination with the read data to correct any errors. Processing this extra data takes longer, but your rip will be more accurate.

By default, iTunes disables error correction in the rip settings. This is because it can take longer to copy a CD. However, when dealing with scratched CDs, this feature can mean the difference between success and failure. To enable this feature, follow the steps below.

Opening the Preferences Screen

To enable error correction, you'll need to open the iTunes Preferences. Below is how you access Preferences for Windows and macOS.

For Microsoft Windows

On the iTunes main menu screen, select the Edit menu tab at the top of the screen and choose Preferences.

Navigating to iTunes Preferences in Windows.

For Mac

Select the iTunes menu tab at the top of the screen and choose the Preferences option from the drop-down menu.

Navigating to iTunes Preferences in macOS.

Enabling Error Correction

The key to a successful CD rip is to enable error correction in iTunes.

  1. If not already in the General section in preferences, switch to this by selecting the menu tab.

    Selecting the General tab in iTunes.
  2. Select Import Settings.

    Selecting the Import Settings button in iTunes.
  3. Check the box next to Use Error Correction When Reading Audio CDs.

    Enabling Error Correction in iTunes.
  4. Select OK > OK.


If error correction didn't make good copies of your CDs, try these fixes:

  • Consider using an alternative DVD/CD drive yields better results.
  • Double-check to make sure there are no problems with your optical drive. Insert a disc you know is good and select Help > Run Diagnostics. Uncheck all the options except the CD/DVD drive tests.
  • A CD repair kit might be your only choice if you can't source a physical replacement or purchase a digital music version.
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