An MP3 is a standard format for digital audio, holding the ability to play on a variety of devices. If you have an iOS device, though, you're probably all too aware that the music you download through iTunes doesn't work on non-iOS devices. The good news is, you can easily export music to MP3 files in iTunes, either by using the tool built into iTunes or through the use of third-party software, some of which is free.
iTunes Export MP3
iTunes uses a file format called AAC, which isn't unique to Apple. It does, however, limit the types of devices you can use to play those files. There are multiple ways to turn your AAC files into MP3 files, including third-party software. Before you pay for a third-party solution, though, look into the many free ways you can ensure your iTunes songs play on other devices.
If you have iTunes installed on your computer, there's an audio converter built into the software. The easiest way to convert iTunes to MP3 is to go to iTunes, Preferences and General, then select Import Settings. Under Import Settings, select MP3 Encoder.
Once you've changed your encoding settings, highlight the iTunes music you want to change to MP3. Then select File, Convert and Create New Version. You'll then have MP3 files you can transfer to other devices.
Convert AAC to MP3
You can also convert iTunes to MP3 using third-party software. Depending on your personal preferences and ongoing needs, this may be a better option. Free AC Audio Converter is a free program that supports a variety of file types, including AAC and MP3. You can convert numerous files at once by simply adding them to a batch job list.
If you're planning to make CDs from the files you convert, a third-party tool may be easier than using the built-in feature. While iTunes can export MP3 files, a tool like Free AC Audio Converter includes a CD ripper.
Back Up Your iTunes Library
Your biggest concern with converting your music to MP3 files is that you want a backup of your music library in case your computer fails. If you have a Mac, your music should be automatically backed up using Time Machine when the rest of your computer saves, but you'll need to hook up an external drive to do that. Whatever backup service you're using, make sure you check occasionally to ensure your music is among those files.
To back up your iTunes library to an external drive manually, you'll first need to consolidate it under File, Library and Organize Library. At that point, all you'll need to do is connect the external drive, find the iTunes folder and copy the files to the drive. If you ever need to restore it or pull it over to a new computer, you can do that by copying the iTunes folder from your external drive to the new device.
Apple Music to MP3
If you're like many consumers, you no longer download songs, instead relying on subscription services like Apple Music. It may be tempting to try to find a way to download the songs you hear on Apple Music. Apple doesn't mind you using software to help iTunes export MP3 files, but you paid for those songs. If everyone could save Apple Music files, nobody would buy songs.
While you may be able to convert iTunes to MP3 files, streaming services like Apple protect their files through sophisticated technology called Digital Rights Management. You will see free and paid services that promise to crack that code, but they'll steal your money at best and infect your computer at worst.