MacMost Now 109: How To Make An MP3 CD

Gary Rosenzweig from looks at how to use iTunes to make an MP3 CD that will fit hundreds of songs on to a single CD and play back in most modern CD players.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 109: How To Make An MP3 CD.

Hi, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now. Today I want to show you how to burn an MP3 CD using iTunes. So an MP3 CD is a little different than an audio CD. An audio CD is pretty much uncompressed music on it; you can fit about 70-80 minutes worth of music on an audio CD. But an MP3 CD has MP3 files just like the ones you use in your iPod, and you can fit hours and hours worth of music on an MP3 CD. But the problem with an MP3 CD is not all CD players can play them. Fortunately, most CD players produced in the last few years including the ones in cars can playback MP3 CDs, and a lot of DVD players can also playback both audio and MP3 CDs.
So how do you make an MP3 CD? Well, you need a blank recordable CD just like you would buy in any store, and all you need is iTunes. iTunes can burn MP3 CDs as well as audio CDs. So the first thing you need to do in iTunes is change one of the preferences. When you go to iTunes Preferences, you'll see the Advanced Settings. In the Advanced Settings you'll see a tab for burning. Under burning you'll see a bunch of different options. You want to select MP3 CD, the second major choice.
The next thing you want to do is create a playlist specifically for making this MP3 CD. So you press the little + symbol down there on the bottom left and you name it. Now you want to select the music that will go into your special playlist. So select your music, and go ahead and select music you want to put on the MP3 CD. I'm going to select everything I have in my current library and drag it to this playlist. So now in this playlist I've got all these songs.
Now here's where it gets tricky. You can only use songs that are compressed as MP3 files. Now, in iTunes in the Preferences, in addition to the burning tab there's also the Importing tab. In the Importing tab you can select "Import Using." And it by default sets the AAC Encoder, which is no good for what we want to do. We want to change it to the MP3 Encoder. Now it doesn't matter what setting you use for MP3s as long as you make them into MP3 files.
Now, if you've got music that is not in MP3 format but it's been imported as AAC, you can convert it to MP3 by simply control-clicking on the song and you'll have a "Convert Selection to MP3". You'll get a duplicate of the file and you can then use that to burn to an MP3 CD and then you can delete it or you can delete the original and keep the MP3 around. Another option if you have the CD still around is to simply go ahead and re-import all this as MP3.
If you've purchased music from iTunes music store, chances are it has DRM or Digital Rights Management protection on it. In that case you cannot convert it to an MP3 and there's no way to use it in this manner -- just another reason never to purchase DRM music. Here's a legitimate use for your music, to listen to it in your car or on an MP3 CD player, that you're not allowed to because of Digital Rights Managements.One way around it is to burn an audio CD and use that instead, or to burn an audio CD and then re-import it as an MP3 files, and that way you can then burn that MP3 to an MP3 CD.
Now, once you've got your playlist ready to burn, one of the things you want to do is you want to sort by artist. Sorting by artist, what that will do, is it will actually create folders on the MP3 CD with each album in it. So when you have an MP3 CD player that you can actually browse through by folder, you can go each album. So in order words, this MP3 CD will end up having 4 folders on it, each one containing one of the albums. I can browse through it song-by-song but I can also jump forward to the first song of the next album.
So then once you have that done all you need to do is click on the Burn CD button and it'll say "Insert a blank disk." I insert the disk and it will burn an MP3 CD for me.
I love these MP3 CDs. I've got a 6-CD changer in my car, which means I've got about 100 of my albums ready to listen to any time while I'm driving. And since they're the original MP3 files I've got on my computer, they also act as a back-up for a lot of my music.
Until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 8 Responses to “MacMost Now 109: How To Make An MP3 CD”

    10 years ago


    10 years ago

    It’s a good tips! Thanks for sharing this. I think MP3 are becoming obsolete as more Mp4 and Mp5 are being used.

    10 years ago

    Hi, that’s it. It’s a wonderful guide. Good job buddy! Sure, MP3 are much more valueable.

    10 years ago

    THANK YOU! So helpful.

    Marikxon Manurung
    9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your tips, really helpful.

    8 years ago

    Hi Gary. My question is what do you do, if you click on the advance button and you look for the burn button and it’s not there. I checked to make sure that I didn’t miss anything and I see the option buttons on your Itune’s. Please advise. Thank you very much Great job.

      8 years ago

      Usually this happens if you don’t have a fresh new writable CD in the drive. Or, it could be anything else that makes the action incomplete — like no songs selected, etc.

    8 years ago

    Thanks for the great tip. Good job. Happy New Years.

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