Tutorial - How to import files from iTunes

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Generally, files in iTunes can be imported into Audacity either by dragging them in, or using Audacity's Import Audio menu item.

Files purchased from iTunes Store may be DRM protected, and must be extracted or recorded to an unprotected format before use in Audacity.

Finding the location and format of your iTunes files

The iTunes Library is not a collection of actual files, but a collection of links to the actual physical location of the files on your hard drive. To view the actual location of your iTunes files and what format they are in:

  1. Right click or control-click over the file in the iTunes window
  2. Click "Show in Windows Explorer" or "Show in Finder"
  3. The new window will have the file selected in the correct folder. Windows by default may not show the file format, but you can right-click the file and hit "Properties" to show the file details.
Warning icon Do not move the file from its current location, or iTunes will no longer be able to find it - instead, copy it to a new location if required.

Importing WAV, AIFF and MP3 files

You can drag WAV, AIFF and MP3 files from iTunes into the Audacity window.

Or, import these files into Audacity thus:

  1. Launch Audacity
  2. Click {File > Import > Audio
  3. Navigate to the actual location of the file
  4. Select the file by clicking on it
  5. Click Open.

Importing M4A (AAC) and MP4 files

M4A and MP4 files can be imported into Audacity on Mac as shipped.

On Windows and GNU/Linux you need to download and install the optional FFmpeg library. See the Windows or Linux instructions.

Then drag and drop files from iTunes into the Audacity window, or use File > Import > Audio to import files from the location stated in iTunes.

Importing protected M4P files

Before 2009 iTunes Store was selling audio files with DRM (copyright) protection. Any file that has an M4P extension is protected, and some files with AAC extension may also be protected. Protected files cannot be directly converted to another format in iTunes.

There are two main solutions:

Perhaps the easiest way if you have a file with DRM is simply to re-buy the song from the iTunes Store. Apple now offers all audio content on iTunes (except e-books) free of Fair Play DRM.

Then you can simply drag and drop it from iTunes into Audacity or use Audacity's Import command.

In many cases you can re-download iTunes Plus versions of the songs without Digital Rights Management by subscribing to iTunes Match.

Exporting the audio back to iTunes/iPod

See the tutorial Exporting to iTunes.