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Rip Audio Files with iTunes from Your MacBook

You don’t have to rely on Internet downloads to get audio files: You can create your own MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV files from your audio CDs with iTunes. The process of converting audio files to different formats is called ripping. (Audiophiles with technical teeth also call this process digital extraction, but they’re usually ignored at parties by the popular crowd.)

Depending on what hardware or software you use, each has its own unique format preferences. For example, most iPod owners prefer MP3 or AAC files, but your audio CDs aren’t in that format. Being able to convert files from one format to another is like having a personal translator in the digital world. You don’t need to worry if you have the wrong format: You can simply convert it to the format that you need.

The most common type of ripping is to convert CD audio to AAC or MP3 format. To rip MP3s from an audio CD, follow these simple steps:

  1. Launch iTunes by clicking its icon in the Dock.

    Alternatively, you can locate it in your Applications folder.

  2. Load an audio CD into your MacBook.

    The CD title shows up in the iTunes Source list (under the Devices heading), which is on the left side of the iTunes window. The CD track listing appears on the right side of the window.

  3. Click the Import Settings button that appears at the bottom of the iTunes window.

  4. Choose MP3 Encoder from the Import Using pop-up menu.

  5. Choose High Quality (160 Kbps) from the Setting pop-up menu and then click OK.

    This bit-rate setting provides the best compromise between quality (it gives you better than CD quality, which is 128 Kbps) and file size (tracks you rip will be significantly smaller than “audiophile” bit rates such as 192 Kbps or higher).

    If iTunes asks you whether you want to import the contents of the CD into your Music Library, you can click Yes and skip the rest of the steps; however, if you’ve disabled this prompt, just continue with the remaining two steps.

  6. Clear the check box of any song that you don’t want to import from the CD.

    All songs on the CD have a check box next to their title by default. Unmarked songs aren’t imported.

    Notice that the Browse button changes to Import CD.

  7. After you select the songs that you want added to the Library, click the Import CD button.

There’s also another form of ripping: If you have a USB turntable or cassette deck connected to your Mac, you can digitize your old analog recordings on albums and cassettes into shiny digital audio files. Often it’s simpler to just buy the same music from the iTunes Store, but if your treasured music isn’t available on the Store or on audio CD, it’s the next best thing!

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