How to Play M4As on an iPhone

By Scott Shpak

Brief overview of the M4A file extension and related Apple compression protocols; explore how to play M4A files on an iPhone.

Good news if you've been puzzling how to play M4A files on your iPhone. It's the native format of music sold through the iTunes store, and it's the default for the music player on your iPhone. You can play an M4A song downloaded to your phone or synchronized through iTunes on your computer. It's simply a matter of selecting the song and pressing Play in the iPhones music app.

The M4A File Extension

As the main Apple audio file extension, M4A is based on the MPEG-4 multimedia standard used for QuickTime. There are two types of M4A, the most common using advanced audio coding compression to reduce file sizes. If you purchase songs or rip CDs through iTunes, M4A is the type of file you most likely have. Apple lossless compression also uses the M4A file extension, but its file sizes are larger. Your iPhone supports both types of M4A files, and compression type doesn't matter for playback.

Playing M4As

  1. From your iPhone's Home screen, press the Music icon along the bottom bar.
  2. Scroll through the song titles until you find the M4A song.
  3. Touch the bar for that song to begin playback.


  • If you have iCloud activated, touch the Cloud icon on the right side of the bar if you want to download the file to your iPhone. This isn't necessary to play the file if your iPhone has an active connection to your iCloud account. M4As already on your iPhone do not show a cloud icon.
  • M4As can be loaded into iTunes on your computer and synced with your iPhone and iCloud account.