How-To: Switch from iTunes DRM to MP3

I posted here about leaving iTunes to free my music from Apple’s shackles. I have spent this weekend transferring, deleting and converting my music. Below I will describe the steps I used to switch from Apple’s DRM tracks to having my entire library in MP3 form. Please backup your music files before following the steps below.

Update: I used iTunes version I’m not sure how other version of iTunes will work.

1. The first step was to get my music from my MacBook Pro to my Windows desktop. The reason for this is that the program I wanted to use, Hymn Project, only works on Windows. I transferred all my music to my 500GB NAS drive. Then from the NAS transferred it to my Windows machine.

2. I know needed to import everything into iTunes. I took awhile since I had 6,400 songs.

3. Once everything was in iTunes I launched myFairTunes. myFairTunes is pretty easy to use program. I left the default settings, which creates a .m4a file. I’ll explain later why you want to leave it as a .m4a file and not use myFairTunes to convert it to a MP3.

4. You will notice in iTunes that you have a lot more songs than you started with. The reason is you have a .m4p (protected file) and a .m4a (unprotected file) from the same song. We need to remove all of those protected files before we start converting to MP3. To remove the .m4p files, open up Windows search. Type *.m4p and have it search your music directory. This will output all the .m4p songs. Just highlight them all and hit delete.

5. Now that you have all of your protected tracks out of the way you can really stop if you want too. There are a lot of players out there that will play .m4a files or you can still use iTunes if you want. But I didn’t want my music to work with some players, I wanted them to work with all players. So proceed to step 6 if you want your files in MP3 form.

6. We now have all protected files converted to .m4a. Now we will use iTunes to convert all of those tracks to MP3. One way you do this is right click on a song and click convert to MP3. **Note: you need to make sure that under preferences, advance, importing you have MP3 selected.** The best way to convert your .m4a files to MP3 is to create a smart playlist. You will want to create a new smart playlist and it should say Kind is AAC Audio File. There is a screen shot below to make it easier for people.

Once you have your new smart playlist created it will add all .m4a files to the playlist. Now you can select all, right click and convert to mp3. The reason why I didn’t use myFairTunes to convert the tracks to MP3 is myFairTunes would have to convert to .m4p and then iTunes would come in and convert to MP3. It is an extremely long process that would eventually lock up my machine. And I feel like my machine is decent. By splitting it into two separate steps it worked fine.

7. Now you will have a MP3 version and a .m4a version of a song. You need to go to Windows search and search your music directory for *.m4a. Once the result are shown highlight them and delete.

8. Now you have all of your music in MP3 format.

The above steps seem like a lot but it’s really not that bad. It did take most of the weekend to complete but that’s because I have a good size library that needed converted. And most of the time was my machine converting and I just used my laptop. If you have questions about the process let me know in the comments.

**I know that by converting to MP3 there was a loss of sound quality. I was willing to give up some sound quality to have a format that was compatible with every software and hardware player available. If you have a better way of doing this please let me know.

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Many a times you may want to remove DRM from your iTunes music collection for the simple reason that you want to play the songs that you legally purchased over the internet to work in your home-thearte system or just in any other player other than your iPod and iTunes.

When you legally download music from services such as iTunes and Musicmatch Jukebox, the files are protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM). This prevents you from playing the music on unsupported players. I use MelodyCan software ( to remove protection. But remember distributing these files is illegal.

Now to be clear, this isn’t a way to take music you bought and give it to someone else, this is so you can listen to your own purchased music on other systems or devices. In fact, your personal info is still in the file.

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