What Is M4A File Format? How to Open and Convert M4A Files?

The secondary name for MPEG-4 audio files is M4A, which is commonly used as the format for downloading songs from the Apple iTunes Store.

M4A is usually encoded with a lossy Advanced Audio Codec (AAC), which makes the file smaller. Of course some M4A files may be lossless, using the Apple Lossless Audio Transcoder (ALAC).

When you download a copyrighted song through the iTunes Store, it will definitely be saved as an M4P subfile.

M4A files are similar to MPEG-4 video files (MP4) because they both use the MPEG-4 format. However, the former can only save audio content.

what is m4a file

How to open M4A files?

Many music and video players support opening M4A format, including VLC media player, iTunes, QuickTime, Windows Media Player (v11 version requires K-Lite Codec Pack), Media Player Classic, Winamp, etc.

Android tablets and phones, as well as Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, have built-in AAC or AALC, so they all support direct playback of M4A, which can be played directly from emails or websites without the need for a special app installation.

Rhythmbox is the player for Linux, while Mac users can use Elmedia Player, and since MPEG-4 format is used for M4A and MP4 files, any music player that supports either format should theoretically be able to open the other format.

How can I convert M4A to MP3 or other files?

Although M4A files are very common, they are certainly not as common as MP3. So sometimes you need to convert it to MP3 files. The first method is to use iTunes, which is suitable when the song is already saved in iTunes. Another way is to use a file conversion tool.

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To convert M4A to MP3 with iTunes, you change the import settings of the program and then use the “Convert” function option.

When you convert M4A to MP3, iTunes will not delete the original M4A, both of them will be kept in your iTunes library.

The M4A converter options include Freemake Audio Converter and MediaHuman Audio Converter, which can save files not only as MP3, but also as WAV, M4R, WMA, AIFF and AC3.

Or you can convert M4A to MP3 with online tools like FileZigZag or Zamzar by simply uploading the files to these sites, while you can also choose other format options including FLAC, M4R, WAV, OPUS and OGG.

The online M4A converter can run on any operating system and is basically an instant conversion without any software installation. However, you have to upload the files and download the converted files when the conversion is done.

You can also use voice recognition software to convert audio files into text files, such programs can be used to transcribe spoken language into text.

Still can’t open the M4A file?

If none of the above mentioned software can open the file, then it is likely that the subfile name is not M4A.

For example, 4MP can be easily confused with M4A. Generally, M4A players can’t open such files because they are 4-MP3 database files, which contain references to audio files, but there is no audio in them.

M and MFA files are also very much like M4A sub-files, but these formats have nothing to do with audio files at all.

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More information about M4A

Some audiobooks and podcasts also use M4A files, but they don’t support bookmark saving, so users can’t quickly open the last played location.

iPhone ringtones also use MPEG-4 audio format, but the saved file extension is M4R.

Compared to MP3, M4A is usually smaller and has better quality. This is because M4A was developed primarily to compete with MP3 and is easier to transfer after compression.

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