If you’ve bought audiobooks from iTunes in the past, but now want to move them to another device such as an Android phone, you’ll most likely need to convert them from the M4B format to MP3. We show you how to achieve this so that you can listen to your books wherever you are and on whatever hardware you’re using.
For broader advice, see How to rip iTunes to MP3.
Convert to MP3 with iTunes
As there’s a good chance you already have iTunes installed on your Mac or PC it makes sense to start with this method. iTunes has a built-in converter that’s easy to use and, in most cases, gets the job done.
To use the converter, open iTunes and click on iTunes>Preferences, then look for the Import Settings button near the bottom of the window.
Click this and in the new pane select the Import Using dropdown menu. A list will open with the various formats that iTunes can use.
Choose MP3 Encoder and then set the quality to the level you require. High Quality (160 kbps) is perfectly acceptable and should keep file sizes down to manageable levels. When you’re finished, click OK.
With that set, it’s time to start converting the audiobook itself. On the main iTunes page click on the Music button in the upper left corner. This opens another dropdown menu from which you can select Audiobooks.
Now choose the Library option, which you’ll find at the top and centre of the page, that should take you to your current collection of titles.
Select the book you want to convert then highlight the track itself. If there are multiple tracks, as is common with longer books, you can either do them one at a time or hold down Shift and select them all together.
Now, go up to the menu bar at the top of the page and select File>Convert>Create MP3 Version. iTunes will now busy itself making MP3 tracks for the book.
Should you see an error message saying this can’t be done because ‘protected file cannot be converted to other formats’ it means the audiobook has DRM (Digital Rights Management) protection which is blocking the process. To overcome this will require using alternative methods, which we’ll cover below.
Try on online converter
There are several web-based converters that can be employed to create MP3 versions of your files. One of our favourites is media.io which is free and allows you to convert two tracks at a time.
To use the service go to https://www.media.io/ and you’ll see a box in the lower left side of the screen with the option to Add your files. Click this and select the track you want to upload.
Next, go to the setting below entitled Convert to, choose MP3 from the dropdown menu, then click on the Convert button. The file will now upload, be changed into an MP3, and finally made available to download once more.
Should this method not work either, then stronger measures will need to be taken.
Using dedicated third-party apps
If you want to remove the DRM then there are dedicated apps that have this as a feature. Be aware that this can be a tricky legal area. DRM is there to protect the creator of the media from piracy, and while converting files for personal use is valid argument you would be well served to read up on current legislation to ensure you remain on the right side of the law.
One app that has a solid reputation is TuneFab Apple Music Converter, although you’ll need to be willing to spend money as a single-machine lifetime license currently costs $39.95 or around £30.
For this you get a streamlined interface that allows you to select content from your iTunes library, specify the output format, then have it strip away the DRM and create an MP3 version without the need for any other interaction.
In our tests it proved very reliable at completing these tasks, just be aware that converting files does take quite a while.
It’s not cheap, but if you simply have to free your audiobooks from the clutches of the M4B format, then it should be money well spent.
If you’re thinking of converting your DVD collection as well, then be sure to read our How to rip a DVD or Blu-ray disc to Mac guide.