I want to convert some of my iTunes m4a files to mp3 files but because I have multiple iTunes accounts, iTunes wont play these files due to computer authorisation issues therefore I can't use iTunes to encode. Can anyone recommend a free music encoder software? (VLC isn't working;)

2 Answers 2


Honestly, for working with audio files quickly, my favourite tool is Fission Audio from Rogue Ameoba. It can open and convert to most popular formats, including the two you're after , and more importantly here I would think, it has a batch conversion mode. It's $32 USD, but it's so polished and works so well it's worth the cost.

But if you really want free I don't think you can beat the command line for converting lots of files, quickly and easily.

To complete these steps you'll need Homebrew installed -- a free package manager for OS X that'll make it easy to get the command line tools you need to do your coversions. See the installation notes for Homebrew on how to install it.

With Homebrew installed you'll need a few command line tools to do the conversion. Namely: ffmpeg and lame. But don't fear! Homebrew makes it very easy to install them. Open a Terminal window and type:

brew install lame ffmpeg

You'll get a bunch of other dependencies installed along with those two things. But those are the two key pieces.

With these tools installed, you can convert an entire directory full of .m4a files to .mp3 like so:

for f in *.m4a; do ffmpeg -i "$f" -acodec libmp3lame -ab 320k "${f%.m4a}.mp3"; done

Just run that from a directory full of .m4a files and watch the magic happen.

  • The asker mentions authorization problems, so the .m4a are probably tracks bought in the iTunes Store. Can ffmpeg convert those as well?
    – nohillside
    Jul 3, 2013 at 8:23
  • 1
    @patrix no, but iTunes audio hasn't been DRM-protected for quite some time now. If you upgrade your old tracks to iTunes+ they'll be DRM-free. Alternatively you can burn the files to a CD and re-rip the CD to get DRM-free versions of the tracks. Stripping DRM any other way is against the EULA.
    – Ian C.
    Jul 3, 2013 at 19:04

XLD (X Lossless Decoder) is a very well-regarded encoder/decoder, that's quite easy to use. It comes with both a GUI and command-line version. It reads/writes ALAC, FLAC, MP3, Ogg, and many other formats. Source code is available.

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