How to Rip Music CDs to ALAC in iTunes

Archive your music CDs without any quality loss

ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) is an audio format built into iTunes that produces lossless audio files. If you already know how to rip a CD on a Mac, importing lossless iTunes tracks is as easy as changing the program settings.

Information in this article applies to iTunes 12 for Windows and Mac. Make sure you update iTunes to the latest version.

How to Rip Music CDs to ALAC in iTunes

iTunes is set up to import music CDs in the AAC Plus format using the AAC encoder by default. To change this option, follow these steps:

  1. For the Windows version of iTunes, select Edit > Preferences at the top of the screen. For the Mac version, select iTunes > Preferences.

    For the Windows version of iTunes, select Edit > Preferences at the top of the screen.
  2. Select the General tab, then select Import Settings in the When You Insert a CD section.

    Select the General tab, then select Import Settings in the When You Insert a CD section.
  3. Select the Import Using drop-down menu and choose Apple Lossless Encoder.

    Select the Import Using drop-down menu and choose Apple Lossless Encoder.
  4. Select OK to save your selection, then select OK again to exit the preferences menu.

    Select OK to save your selection, then select OK again to exit the preferences menu.
  5. Insert a music CD into your DVD/CD drive. If iTunes asks if you want to import the disc into your iTunes library, select Yes to start the ripping process.

    If iTunes asks if you want to import the disc into your iTunes library, select Yes to start the ripping process.
  6. If you didn't get an automatic prompt to import the music CD, go to your iTunes library and select the CD icon at the top of the screen.

    Go to your iTunes library and select the CD icon at the top of the screen.
  7. Select Import CD.

    Select Import CD.
  8. Select the Import Using drop-down menu and choose Apple Lossless Encoder.

    Select the Import Using drop-down menu and choose Apple Lossless Encoder.
  9. Select OK.

    Select OK.
  10. Wait for the song files to be transferred to your computer. If you want to interrupt the ripping process, select Stop Importing in the upper-right of the screen.

    If you want to interrupt the ripping process, select Stop Importing in the upper-right of the screen.
  11. Once all the songs on your music CD have been imported, switch back to your iTunes music library. You should now see your imported CD in the Albums view.

    You should now see the name of your imported CD in the Albums view.

Why Use ALAC?

ALAC is an ideal format to use for making perfect copies of your original music CDs. It still compresses the audio (similar to other formats like AAC, MP3, and WMA), but it doesn't eliminate any audio detail. As well as being a great alternative to the FLAC format, ALAC is also a convenient option if you've got an Apple device. It's built right into the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, so you'll be able to directly sync your lossless songs straight from iTunes. You'll then be able to listen to perfect rips of your music CDs and perhaps hear audio details that you've never heard before.