M4A is the extension of the standard MPEG-4 audio file. Since Apple began using M4A in its iTunes and iPods to distinguish the video and audio files from MPEG-4, the M4A extension has become popular. But M4A is an audio format compatible with Mac. If you need to play it on Windows, Samsung, Android LG, HTC, or other systems, you may meet some knotty troubles.
Whereas MP3 is a sought-after audio format that can be recognized by most devices and players. To play M4A anywhere, you’d change it to MP3. How to convert M4A to MP3 on Mac with the easiest ways? Here shows the ultimate guide.
In terms of audio quality and file size, M4A indeed has a greater advantage over MP3. But if we are unable to play the M4A file, all the advantages are just decorations. So changing M4A to MP3, you will have no worries about the M4A audio playback problem.
In this part, you will know how to convert M4A to MP3 on Macintosh with iTunes - the app preinstalled in macOS Mojave and earlier.
Although this method requires only a few clicks to complete the conversion, it is not my most recommended method. Because iTunes only provides users with limited output audio formats. Meanwhile, since macOS Catalina, iTunes separates into Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts.
Apart from iTunes, we can still use other useful converters to start the conversions. Here we list 6 tools to help you.
Cisdem Video Converter supports converting audios, videos and DVD movies to any hot formats and devices in high quality without data loss, which is undoubtedly the best M4A to MP3 converter for Mac. It not only provides a merge function that capable of combining multiple files into one large file, but also offers extra useful features to edit, enhance and personalize audios and videos before conversion.
Not only being as a powerful converter to change M4A to MP3 on Mac, it can also be worked as a video downloader or DVD ripper due to its versatility. However, despite being a multifunctional application, it is still easy to use with the intuitive and simplicity interface. Furthermore, no matter you choose to convert, download or rip, it can help you batch process the files at once in a fast speed, largely speeding up the process and saving your waiting time.
Step 1. Import M4A files to the program
Download and install Cisdem Video Converter on your Mac. Launch the program, drag and drop the M4A files to it.
Step 2. Select MP3 as output format
Click on the blue format icon, a format tray will pop up. Choose “MP3 Audio” from the “General Audio” tab.
For further configuration, click the "gearwheel" icon next to the output option you choose. And then an "Advanced Settings" will display, which gives you an opportunity to adjust the parameters of the exported audio.
Note: If you are not a technical user, keep the current settings, which are already good enough.
Step 3. Convert M4A audios to MP3 on Macintosh
Select a file destination as the output folder by clicking “File > Save Convert Folder to” on the top toolbox. In the end, click the icon to start the conversion of M4A audio to MP3 on Mac without degrading the original quality.
To Audio Converter is a simple yet professional audio converter that focuses on generating audio files in MP3, M4A, FLAC, AIFF and WAV format. It is able to convert 200+ audios and videos, and it even supports loading files from iTunes directly for conversion. However, it can only convert M4A to MP3 for free without additional decoration. If you want to edit the files or make bulk conversions, you have to upgrade to its premium version.
Audacity was initially unable to import M4A, because it could only add some common audio file formats like WAV, AIFF, and MP3. If you have the FFmpeg library installed, it will support more formats, including M4A, AC3, MP4, WMA, etc. Audacity uses LAME to encode MP3, and it actually has been packed with a built-in LAME encoder already. But you can still install a higher version. These two extra libraries are necessary for converting M4A to MP3 but are not packaged together.
Note: If you want to use Audacity to batch convert M4A to MP3 free on Mac without mixing them into one stereo file, just add all M4A files to the interface, click “File > Export > Export Multiple” when making the output settings. After choosing MP3 as the output format, click “Export” and then edit metadata tags for each file one by one. After editing the last one, click “OK” to start the conversion.
Terminal provides a graphic interface for some transcode programs, like FFmpeg, using the command lines to make different conversions. It's complicated to make conversions on Mac in the terminal. It will cause "command not found" because of outputting a character or letter. It took me a lot of attempts to get it right, which was a bit time consuming, especially for beginners.
You can't type the command line: ffmpeg -i audio.m4a -c:a copy audio.mp3 to copy or remux M4A to MP3, as they use different codecs.
The Automator app built into macOS is a way to create workflows for handling repetitive manual tasks and boosting efficiency. If you need to convert audio files to MP3 often, Automator can help you save and reuse your workflows, along with creating MP3 in bulk. The custom scripts below are written in Automator using Shell to convert M4A to MP3 on Mac.
Online converters are simple, free, and come without any added frills. If you search the keyword “M4A to MP3 online” on Google, you will get tons of free tools. To make your selection task a little easier, we pick up one of the best online M4A to MP3 converters for Mac.
Audio-online-convert.com is the one that will help you convert audio to M4A, M4R, OPUS, MMF, AIFF, etc. It lists more than related free online audio converter items. The free account empowers you to convert up to 20 audio files per 24 hours and up to 5 audio files per time.
In fact, it is similar to use an online converter. But it added the steps to log in to the Google account, and the converted MP3 will be saved in Google Drive. It has designated tools-CloudConvert.com and suggested apps-Cloud FLAC, MP3, AAC Player, and Cloud Audio Recorder.
The answer is no. QuickTime merely allows you to export media files to M4A format now.
Whether it’s the past or the present, the answer is no.
The old version of QuickTime 7 Pro allows you to export media files to AIFF, AU, and Wave. There are no MP3 options to choose from. The sole solution is to install a third-party add-on (LAME encoder).
However, QuickTime Player 7 no longer provides Pro upgrades since 2009 and Apple has completely killed it since Catalina.
When Mac OS X Snow Leopard was released, it's equipped with the new QuickTime X Player, which can merely save the audio to M4A format.
Yes, VLC offers an audio transcoding function. You should select the format as "Audio-MP3" and make sure to manually name the file as "xxx.mp3". It seems to me that VLC on Mac isn't as good as it is on Windows, as the latter supports more plugins, update timely and is more flexible.
We introduced 7 ways to convert M4A to MP3 on Mac. Taking into account the limitations of the iTunes application, audio-only converter and online converters, as well as the complexity of Audacity, the command line, and Automator, we are more inclined to use the full-featured applications, like Cisdem Video Converter for Mac. You can easily find the merits of it.
Peter has always had great enthusiasm for writing, programming and web development. He likes writing about software and technology, his works are featured on some tech blogs or forums like Tom's Hardware, CNET, etc.