Monday, October 29, 2007

From WMA to MP3 on a Mac

I recently needed to convert a WMA file into the MP3 format. In case you're wondering, WMA stands for Windows Media Audio, which is both an audio file format and a set codecs developed by Microsoft. I could have used Zamzar, a free online file conversion service, but I figured that since I have a Mac, and because the Mac is strong on multimedia (isn't it?), this would be done in a breeze.

First, I thought that I would be able to drag & drop that WMA file on iTunes, and that iTunes would just ask me if I want to import the file in the AAC or MP3 format. Wrong: iTunes just won't import a WMA file. Alright, then let's load QuickTime, the Mac multimedia hub. QuickTime can convert between media formats, but for that privilege, Apple wants you to pay $30 and get what they call QuickTime Pro. I am buying a $4,000 machine which comes preloaded with a bunch of software that I don't need (such as GarageBand), but Apple wants $30 more, now when I want to do something useful? I still can't swallow that.

You would think that you can open a WMA file with QuickTime Pro, wouldn't you? No! For this you need to download the Windows Media Components for QuickTime, which luckily is provided for free by Microsoft.

Now you can open and play that WMA file in QuickTime Pro. You would think you can export it to MP3, wouldn't you? Well sorry, again: no! That one was very surprising to me. I find it hard to believe that QuickTime Pro can't convert an audio file to the MP3 format out of the box. I am still wondering if I missed something. Here is your workaround: download LAME Component for QuickTime and you will be able to export to MP3.

Finally! Next time, I'm using Zamzar.