How can I save my CD songs as MP3 files?

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Answered by: Thomas, An Expert in the Digital Music - General Category
CDs were all the rage when they came out in the 1980s, and became the standard format for home audio in the 1990s. However, more people are gravitating toward digital music in the 21st century, which means that MP3s are in, and CDs are out. Many of us still have CDs lying around, and we don't want to buy that music again. Fortunately, you can save those songs as MP3 files.

First, you’re going to need a couple of pieces of software before you can begin saving your CD tracks as MP3 files. You’ll need Windows Media Player so that you can rip the music. Ripping is the name given to the process of taking tracks from a CD. Putting tracks onto a CD is called burning. So the second piece of software you’ll need is a burner. Most modern computers come with burning programs built in. If you don’t have one, you can use Windows Media Player or download iTunes for free.

First, you’ll need to download and install Windows Media Player. Once it has been installed, open the program, and then insert the CD with the songs you want to save as MP3 files into your computer's CD-ROM drive. Navigate to Windows Media Player on your computer and then right-click the "Rip" tab at the top of the window. Hover your cursor over "File," followed by "Rip Audio CD" and then click your CD drive with the name of the disc you inserted. It may say "Unknown Artist,” but don’t worry. Windows Media Player will get the CD information in a few moments.

After you select it, the names of the tracks and artist(s) should pop up in the main window of Windows Media Player.

To set up the ripper, select "Tools," then "Settings" and then finally click the "Rip Music" tab. The “Rip Music to This Location” section of the window will show where your ripped files will end up. It’s probably in “My Music.” You can either leave it there; change it to another folder or save it to your “Desktop” for quick access.

To import the songs, go under the "Rip Settings" section of the Windows Media Player window, and locate the drop-down menu next to "Format:" Click the "Down Arrow" and select "MP3." Drag the "Audio Quality" line to "Best Quality" to make sure you get top-notch sound from your converted files.

You’ll find the new MP3s, as well as the old WMA (Windows Media Audio) files, in the folder you chose to store your MP3s in. You'll be able to tell the difference by looking under the "Type" column, which will have the format extension attached to the end of the song (for instance “Forever Young.mp3”).

Now, if you have a Mac, you won’t be able to download Windows Media Player. Instead, you’ll have to download and install iTunes. Next, open iTunes and select the "Preferences" option from the toolbar at the top of the window. A new window should open containing several icons sitting along the top of the window. Click the "Advanced" icon, and then click "Importing" from the options below. Click the pull-down menu next to "Import Using" and then select "MP3 Encoder" from the list of options. Insert a CD into your CD-ROM drive.

Unclick any check marks next to songs you don't want to convert. Click the "Import" button in the top right-hand corner of iTunes. By default, your new MP3 files should be saved under Music>iTunes>iTunes Music Folder. You have now saved your CD songs as MP3 files.

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