How to import files from iTunes

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Revision as of 14:44, 11 November 2007 by Suf (talk | contribs) (Minor tidy)
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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, do this:

  1. Right-click or control-click over the file in the iTunes window
  2. Click "Get Info"
  3. Look in the line that says "Where" near the bottom. This gives you the full path to the file, and the file format is given at the end of the file path (i.e. the last three characters after the filename and the dot).


Importing .WAV, AIFF and .MP3 files

Providing the files you want to import from iTunes are in .WAV, .AIFF or .MP3 format, you can drag them directly from the iTunes interface into Audacity 1.2.x if you are on Windows. To do this you must hold down CTRL once the drag is hovered over the Audacity window. In the 1.3.3 (Beta) version of Audacity you can drag .WAV, .AIFF and .MP3 files in directly from the iTunes interface on both Mac and Windows.

Also, you can always import iTunes files in these formats into any version of Audacity thus:

  1. Launch Audacity
  2. Click Project > Import Audio</span> (or File > Import > Audio in 1.3.3)
  3. Navigate to the actual location of the file.
  4. Select the file by clicking on it
  5. Click Open


Importing .MP4/.M4A files

If the files are shown as .MP4 or .M4A, you can import them into the OS X version of Audacity 1.3.3 (Beta) with the File > Import > Audio command. You must be on OS X 10.3 or higher to run 1.3.3 for OS X. Otherwise, you should convert these files to .WAV or .AIFF in iTunes then import the converted files into Audacity. To convert an .MP4/M4A file to .WAV or .AIFF in iTunes:

  1. Open iTunes Preferences (under Edit on Windows or under iTunes on OS X)
  2. Click on the Advanced tab
  3. Click the small Importing tab inside the Advanced tab
  4. In the "Import Using" dropdown, choose "WAV Encoder" or "AIFF Encoder"
  5. Click OK
  6. Right-click or control-click over the file in iTunes > "Convert Selection to WAV" or "Convert Selection to AIFF"
  7. Right-click or control-click over the converted file, click "Get Info", and check the location of the file at "Where" so you can import it into Audacity


Importing protected .M4P files from iTunes Store

If the files are shown as .M4P, they are DRM-protected (copyrighted) files you purchased in iTunes store and you cannot convert them directly to another format in iTunes because of that protection. If the files are shown as .AAC, they are probably also protected, but not necessarily, so you could first of all try converting them within iTunes to .WAV or .AIFF as in Section 2 above. If your files are in .M4P or a protected .AAC format there are two main solutions: either burn them to an audio CD in iTunes, then extract the CD tracks to .WAV or .AIFF in iTunes; or play the files in iTunes and record them.

Note: As of May 2007 Apple began to offer EMI content on iTunes free of DRM protection for a surcharge. In a press announcement  they said they hoped progressively to offer content from other record companies in non-DRM format.


Burn to audio CD then extract to WAV/AIFF

To burn the file to an audio CD in iTunes:

  1. Drag the file from your iTunes Music window (under Library in the left-hand panel) into an iTunes playlist
  2. Open iTunes Preferences (under Edit on Windows or under iTunes on OS X)
  3. Click on the Advanced tab
  4. Click the small "Burning" tab inside the Advanced tab
  5. Select the burner speed, and make sure "Audio CD" is selected.
  6. Click OK
  7. Click File > Burn Playlist to Disc.


If you receive a "computer not authorised" error, you need to double-click the file in the iTunes playlist and enter the password you use to login to iTunes store. Additionally, you cannot burn a playlist containing .M4P files that have been burned more than seven times.

To extract the CD tracks to .WAV or .AIFF in iTunes:

  1. Open iTunes Preferences (under Edit on Windows or under iTunes on OX)
  2. Click on the Advanced tab
  3. Click the small Importing tab inside the Advanced tab
  4. In the "Import Using" dropdown, choose "WAV encoder" or "AIFF Encoder"
  5. Click OK
  6. In the left-hand panel under "Devices", select the CD that you burned
  7. In the main window opposite, deselect any CD track(s) you do not want to burn.
  8. Right-click or control-click over them, and choose the "convert to AIFF" or "convert to WAV" option. You can also either drag the track(s) to the "Music" Playlist, or click "Import CD" bottom right of the screen.
  9. Right-click or control-click over the converted file in the "Music" playlist, click "Get Info", and check the location of the file at "Where" so you can import it into Audacity


A .WAV or .AIFF file will give you a lossless digital copy of your iTunes file which you can now import into Audacity.


Recording the file

If you prefer to record the file, what you can do depends on your operating system. On Windows or Linux you can usually play the file and record it directly into Audacity - see the Audacity FAQ on recording audio .

On OS X it is recommended instead to use either Audio Hijack  or Wiretap  to record the file and save it to .AIFF. If you use Wiretap you should turn off "compression" in its Preferences to avoid problems importing the .AIFF file into Audacity.

If you have a lot of files to deal with, recording will obviously take longer than burning to CD as it is usually done in real time. Recording into Audacity may result in some minor errors or noise because of the digital > analogue and analogue > digital conversions involved, though many users would not notice these. On the other hand no digital > analogue conversions are involved with Audio Hijack or Wiretap as the sound is grabbed before it reaches the soundcard. If preferred, there are a few Windows program (shareware) that can similarly grab the audio and make a digital copy before it reaches the soundcard. Two good programs are Total Recorder  and Tunebite .

Tunebite is able to make a high speed digital recording in faster than real time but has the disadvantage that it cannot save recordings in .WAV or .AIFF format. Audacity can import two of the formats it saves in (.MP3 and .OGG) but unlike .WAV and .AIFF, .MP3 and .OGG are both lossy compressed formats. As a result, you would lose some audio data in recording with Tunebite, which is not ideal when you want to edit the files in Audacity.

Note: one potential problem with Total Recorder is that Audacity cannot work with its drivers. So make sure on the Audio I/O tab of Audacity Preferences that you explicitly choose your inbuilt sound as the recording device, and not Total Recorder or "Microsoft SoundMapper".


jHymn

There is one remaining method of extracting audio from .M4P files which is to use a program called jHymn . This program removes the iTunes encryption from .M4P and protected .AAC files and converts them to unprotected .M4A files. You can then convert the .M4A files to .WAV or .AIFF in iTunes as described in Section 2. Unfortunately this program only works with iTunes 5 or earlier.


Exporting the audio back to iTunes/iPod

When you export your files from Audacity back to iTunes, be aware that you need to export as .WAV or .AIFF to avoid losing audio data in the export, but you can still export as .MP3 from Audacity if you want to keep the file size down at the expense of some slight quality loss. iTunes will play MP3s. To export an .MP3 from Audacity you need to add the LAME encoder to your computer (see Lame Installation). Of course you can also convert from .AIFF to .MP3 or .M4A in iTunes by selecting the appropriate encoder in the Advanced > Importing tab of iTunes Preferences. For more information on exporting your edited audio to iTunes and iPod see Exporting your Audacity Project into iTunes and iPod.