Moving from iTunes to Windows Media Player, Part II

About six months ago I tried as best as I could to document my experiences moving from iTunes to Windows Media Player, and my attempts to preserve as much metadata as I possibly could during the move. I was really the most concerned with my song ratings, which are central to my listening experience, but also tried to demonstrate how to move playlists and libraries over. I didn't think that my little blog entry was going to be read by that many people, but apparently I was wrong—it gained a little bit of Google-juice and I was off to the races. I now get a few mails from people a week trying to get their libraries moved over from iTunes to Windows Media Player, and now that we are quickly approaching Christmas, nervous parents have been contacting me more than ever trying to get their kid's new MP3 player stocked with music before Christmas morning.

There are a couple key things that people are having trouble with, and they all revolve around music file formats. In an ideal world, all music files would work on all devices. We all know that we don't live in an ideal world. Apple (and Microsoft) would like you to use their more locked-in formats to keep you from easily moving from device to device. Apple uses a format called AAC and Microsoft uses WMA. As expected, iTunes won't play WMAs and Windows Media Player doesn't play AACs. This makes migrating a bit of a pain.

The key is that MP3s are the lowest common denominator—both programs play MP3s without a hitch. The key is to get iTunes to convert your AAC files to MP3s. Here's how to do this:

  1. Open up iTunes.
  2. Open your iTunes preferences (EditàPreferences) and go to the "Importing" tab.
  3. Change your "Import Using" drop-down to "MP3 Encoder".
  4. Exit from your preferences and go to the main library view in iTunes. You're going to want to sort all of your music by "File Type".
  5. Highlight all of your unprotected AAC files. (You can not convert or play songs you purchased from the iTunes Music Store because of a lock Apple is forced to put on the files called "FairPlay". Ironic, huh? Please do not email me to ask for ways around this restriction—it's currently illegal to )
  6. Right-click, and select "Convert Selection to MP3".
  7. It'll take awhile…be patient.

Voila! You should now have MP3 copies of all of the music you ripped from CDs to your library. Please note that this technique does lose quality, so if you're an audiophile, you're going to want to use the good ole fashioned "rip from CD" method directly from Windows Media Player first. Just remember to tell Windows Media Player to rip to MP3—don't get stuck in this mudhole again! J

Comments (8)

  1. R says:

    Yes, this ought to help with the onslaught of switcher.  Singular.

  2. Nee Nee says:

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

    My 13 year old whiz kid and I have been trying to do this since christmas day.  It is now done. Thanks a million.

  3. BeOsFreak says:

    I just had to post something here, due to the fact as most Windows Users are ignorant to Microsoft Ploys.  I hope you like working for the MOB, because that is basically what Microsoft is about.  You are young and have no idea of the actual history of MS, except what you were brain washed with.

    Why would you switch one music player to another?  Just use MP3 files and use whatever player you want.  NO DRM.  And that lame excuse for XBOX 360 media is shit.  Just buy a used xbox and download a real Media Center Software (whis is available, by the way) and play you music from any network drive, not just Windows XP and Windows MCE PC.  It would be very easy for MS to have added that functionality to XBOX 360, but no!  You gotta have an XP or XP MCE computer to stream the freakin music from.  This is know as the Claws of MS.  Do yourself a favor, and pay attention of how MS really works.  You will be supprised.  (MS Philosophy:  If we cannot make a better product, we will buy the competition.  If we need to steal others ideas, we will.  Looks over performance is first amount our software (Make it look good, ship it, and then make it work).  Make Our apps and hardware only work with MS soultions. Take open source standards and change them to only work with MS products.  If someone takes us to court, buy them.  Do not worry about the US Government, we own them.)  I use Windows and I uses OSX.  I’m more productive on my iMAC with OSX.  I’m a Windows Programmer and video editing professional.  Started with Windows 3.0.  I know what I’m talking about, so don’t try to bullshit me.

  4. Confuzzzled says:

    wait… how u move it then? ergh…. me is cunfuzzed

  5. brian says:

    I don’t see an option to sort by "file name" in my iTunes library?

  6. fencerdaisy says:

    Thank you for this helpful information.  I’m just sorry that someone used this blog to throw around insults and vent their frustrations.  I believe the idea behind this blog is to help people who are not ‘windows programmers’ and ‘video editing professionals’ to figure out how to fix a common problem.  The problem occurs because there are two companies competing in the computer industry – which is what keeps things moving and lowers prices – and it is just something we have to deal with in free market economy.  I am glad that we have companies competing, but anyone who is not can move to a socialist or communist country if they want to.  Anyway, thanks for helping those of us who don’t know what we’re talking about.

  7. I’ve gotten lots and lots of questions about my previous couple of posts about how to move your music

  8. Will A says:

    Did ITunes remove the Import Tab from the Preferences menu selection. What else can I do about converting my ACC files to WMA?

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