I have some iTunes files with the file type AAC audio (protected) on Windows 7. The problem is that these songs only work with Apple software, and I want to remove the DRM.

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    Innocent readers of this thread should be aware that removing DRM from files (via cracking, not iTunes Match or CD burning or other first-party-supported methods) may be illegal in your jurisdiction (eg., the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in the USA, other countries may have similar laws). The morality of circumventing DRM aside, you may want to contact a local lawyer if you are worried about the possibility of breaking laws.
    – Cajunluke
    Sep 20, 2012 at 19:54

5 Answers 5


Apple offers a feature called iTunes Plus to upgrade most purchases to a DRM-free version for a small fee. This link will bring you directly to the appropriate section in iTunes to do this.

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    A lot of songs aren't available in iTunes Plus. Dec 16, 2011 at 21:17
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    I thought their entire library was iTunes Plus for quite a while now? Perhaps you have some songs that aren't available at all anymore, though. Dec 16, 2011 at 22:02
  • @75thTrombone yes, music from the US store isn't giving me any trouble. Stuff from the Japanese store is hit or miss, either Plus or 128-kbps protected. The bitrate is already low, which is why I really want to avoid transcoding. Dec 17, 2011 at 1:28

With iTunes Match you can re-download them in iTunes Plus quality without DRM protection. And it's just $25 a year, definitely worth if you have more than an album with DRM. http://www.apple.com/icloud/features/


Here's an article that lists three ways to do it. The first way involves burning audio to CD and re-importing, which would be lossy/transcoding. The second and third methods appear to be software-based techniques to remove the DRM from the files without transcoding. I have not tried any of these methods.

  • QTFairUse looks perfect, but it requires iTunes 6-7. Dec 16, 2011 at 21:16

Burning to Audio CD and re-ripping is not 'lossy' - yes you change codecs - however, you aren't losing quality going up to Audio CD from your 128 bit files.

When you come back down from Audio CD quality - you could lose quality, however, you could use 'Apple Lossless' or just keep them as AIFF or WAV if you'd prefer. Then you haven't lost any quality from your original files - they are just LOTS bigger :)

  • Amusing solution, but I don't know if it's true that burning an AAC file to a CD is lossless. Dec 22, 2011 at 5:44
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    @Louis it's essentially an 'up conversion' - it won't GAIN any quality - but the AIFF/WAV/CD won't lose any compared to the original file. (I have to do similar things w/ video daily... H.264 to DPX/Cineon etc.) Dec 22, 2011 at 15:12
  • In support of @Louis comment, if the CD recording of the AAC file is in the form of ordinary CD Audio -- that would play on a basic CD audio player, then it would not be lossless, with the following assumption. Assuming that iTunes does not 'enhance' or otherwise adjust the audio coming from the AAC file before outputting it as CD Audio to the CD. In the playback section of preferences, check that all the options are switched off. If no alteration is occuring, then the audio played from the resultant CD should have be identical to the audio coming from the protected aac played by iTunes. Jul 5, 2015 at 0:35
  • ...the assumption being that, internally, iTunes has to first remove the DRM to send to the AAC codec that decodes the content of the AAC file into a standard 16bit 44.1KHz stereo signal (the standard of CD Audio) which would be sent the the computer's DAC circuitry (digital to analogue converter) which outputs to your headphones or internal/external speakers or sound system. The crucial assumption is that the stage at which the AAC data is decoded into 16 bit 44.1KHz stereo, is also the same stage used in the CD ripping. i.e. the audio played from iTunes is the same as the audio it rips to CD Jul 5, 2015 at 0:45
  • So the net effect is that the resultant CD Audio CD (Red book) with the music from the iTunes playlist burnt to it, would play the same audio as if the playlist was being played by iTunes, because both used the same process within iTunes to decode the audio. If, when burning, you use Virtual CD-RW mentioned in another answer, you can avoid requiring a CD writer all together if your end goal is to personally listen to your music without requiring iTunes. The result here would be one or more CD Audio images created depending on the size of your playlist. Jul 5, 2015 at 0:58

This answer only applies to someone with a Mac. I don't believe in paying iTunes again for something I already bought once. So, in case it helps someone else:

I've been having success with the program Virtual CD-RW for Mac... there's a 15 day fully functional demo period. (http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/33355/virtual-cd-rw)

Basically, it tricks your computer into thinking you've mounted a blank CD. So I just filtered out all my iTunes music whose Kind is Protected AAC (bought before they removed DRM), split it up into CD-sized playlists, and burn and import playlists one by one. Just a modification of burning all your songs to an audio CD and then importing.

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