I have some M4A audio files, that I can't play on iTunes (e.g. double click the file, and then iTunes fired up, the audio added to the library, but the play doesn't start. Tried double clicking on the audio on the library, still doesn't start the player).

But when I open them in QuickTime, QuickTime can play it. Why that happens? And what can I do about it so I can import those files to iTunes? Thanks.

  • 1
    Where did the .m4a file come from? I'd like to see the first 30 bytes of the file, so in a Terminal do the following. Type cat , that's "cat " followed by a space. Now drag & drop the .m4a file onto the Terminal window and it populates the command line with its fully qualified pathname. Now type | head -c 30 | xxd -p and press enter. The output will be in hex format, e.g.: 00000020667479704d344120000000004d3441206d70343269736f6d0000 Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 14:58
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    it's solved now. turns out the file is corrupt, not in the correct size. as far as I know, iTunes should be able to play it though even though when it's incomplete. thanks. Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 5:29

3 Answers 3


Changing the extension to .mp4 from .m4a worked for me but as a solution sucks since I now have to change it for each file individually. With a large music collection failing the same way this solution with take significant time to implement.

  • Batch renaming is possible in Finder or with a dedicated shell script. Please consider asking a new question for this using the "Ask Question" button on top.
    – nohillside
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 14:39
  • Now the file duration has doubled with a large gap at the end of the song equivalent to the actual song length. E.g. four minute sone = 8 minute track with four minutes of audio followed by four minutes of silence Commented May 30, 2023 at 10:08

I had the same problem. Try changing the extension from M4A to MP4. It worked for me.

  1. Open file in QuickTime Player
  2. Click: File > Export As > Audio Only...

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