Sometimes Macs Aren’t That Smart

iTunesIf I were to ask any technologist what the primary sound file format is on the Internet and beyond, they have to say MP3. It's a highly compressed standard that maintains the quality of the sound that's heard by humans. That said, if I were Apple (or Microsoft), I would probably offer MP3 as a common file conversion between my programs.

Apple's default file type is the aiff. Every heard of it? Unless you're working on a Mac, probably not.

For you Mac gurus, I could be out of my head. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I went through quite a few programs before I could figure out how to convert an aiff file to MP3.

Garageband? Nope.
Soundtrack? Nope.
Quicktime Pro? Nope.

So I do some Googling for aiff to mp3 and find a bunch of articles on using iTunes (You know, that FREE software) and it's supposedly possible. You just set the Import settings to Import files to an MP3 file type.

Cool! So I import the file I recorded into iTunes, voila! Ummm… no voila.

This is really starting to suck.

Eventually I happen to right-click on the sound file in iTunes and I see it… there it is…Convert to MP3. God loves me. The world is fair. After an hour, I finally am able to convert my file. Done!

Now if I only knew where it put it…

I eventually figured out how to copy out the MP3 file from iTunes and put it up on my site. I just know that the RIAA is behind this somehow. I can't believe that every modern sound application doesn't have a blatant feature to either work with MP3s by default or automatically export in MP3s. Ridiculous.


  1. 1

    It took me awhile to realize how to convert to MP3 on a mac too.

    The file should be in your default iTunes music directory. But the easiest way is to drag that file straight from the iTunes playlist to your desktop or whatever folder. 😉

  2. 4

    I think the mp3 conversion issue has more to do with the rights to mp3. It seems that I read somewhere that the coding has to be kept out of retail software. I think that’s accurate. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  3. 5

    “Now if I only knew where it put it?”

    How about right-clicking the track again and choose “Show in Finder” ?

    Quite smart, if you’d ask me 😉

    • 6

      Can you tell I’m an iTunes newby, Tibor? Thanks! And yes, I was frustrated and being sarcastic… the user experience of OSX is quite smart. (Converting to MP3 isn’t, though!)

      • 7

        Doug: Most of times it’s simpler then you would expect, I’d say. But I agree: the way how iTunes (and iPhoto, for that matter) handle certain things it can be a bit confusing.

  4. 8
  5. 9

    .aiff is a format that does not compress the audio. Which is great if you work professionally with sound (as quite a few mac users do; after graphics and video, sound-editing is the 3rd most used app for Macs).

    That said, I am too surprized that QT doesn’t convert to MP3.

    If you need to convert sound files on a regular basis, I can recommend the $10 app Sound Converter.

    When searching for Mac software, I would recommend Mac Update over Google.

  6. 10

    In agreement with the title of this blog entry:
    Many many thing drive me nuts about macs. I have been using both systems for years now and I consider myself qualified to make these kind of statemnts. I’m annoyed when the “Expand” window button makes the windows… only a little bit bigger. Also, why the heck can’t I drag any edge of the window frame to resize it? And why doesn’t the delete key work like a real delete key should?

    I once watched a veteran designer turn off a G3 because the power button looked like the cd eject button. Intuitive design? perhaps not.

    I could go on and on 🙂

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