Software

What is an M4A file?

Headphones
On file: M4A files are audio files

So, you’ve discovered an M4A file sitting on your computer and you’re not sure whether to open the thing, in case it unleashes seven shades of hell. Relax. The M4A file format is an audio file and in 99.9999% of cases will be entirely harmless. Unless it’s an audio file of a Coldplay song…

M4A audio files

M4A audio files are similar to the more familiar MP3 audio file. They’re often found on Macs, because Apple uses the file format for content downloaded from the iTunes store or if you’ve ripped a CD in Apple iTunes/Music.

Which apps will play M4A files?

Most of the audio apps that you can download for a PC or Mac will play M4A files. The Apple Music app, Windows Media Player and the brilliant VLC audio app will all play M4A files, unless the file is wrapped in some horrible DRM (digital rights management), which is largely a relic from yesteryear.

Can I convert M4A to MP3?

Yes. If you’d prefer to have your music files stored in the more common MP3 format, there is all manner of software and online services that will convert an M4A file to MP3 for you.

If you just want to do a quick conversion of a single track, Cloud Convert offers a free M4A to MP3 conversion. Use the Select File button at the top to find the M4A file on your computer and you don’t really need to worry about fiddling with the rest of the settings, unless you want to.

When the conversion is finished, you’ll be offered the chance to download the track to your computer. The only downside we can see is that it embeds a link back to the site in the song’s metadata (information that accompanies each file), but I wouldn’t be too bothered about that and you can scrape away that link if you wish.

Find free audiobooks

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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