What is an M4A File?
A file with the M4A file extension is an MPEG-4 Audio file. They’re most often found in Apple’s iTunes Store as the format of song downloads.
Many M4A files are encoded with the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codec in order to reduce the size of the file. Some M4A files may instead use the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC).
If you’re downloading a song through the iTunes Store that is copy protected, it’s instead saved with the M4P file extension.
Note: M4A files are similar to MPEG-4 Video files (MP4s) since they both use the MPEG-4 container format. However, M4A files can only hold audio data.
Applications of M4A
The extension is used by Apple for AAC audio data in an MP4 container (same container, different audio encoding). However, Apple Lossless is not a variant of AAC (which is a lossy format), but rather a distinct lossless format that uses linear prediction similar to other lossless codecs such as FLAC and Shorten. All current iPods and iPhones can play Apple Lossless-encoded files. It does not use any digital rights management (DRM) scheme, but by the nature of the container, it is thought that DRM could be applied to ALAC much the same way it can with other files in QuickTime containers. The most common programs for playing M4a format files are iTunes, Apple QuickTime Player and Windows Media Player, which are available for both Mac OS X and Windows computers.
How to Open an M4A File
Lots of programs support the playback of M4A files, including iTunes, QuickTime, Windows Media Player (v11 requires the K-Lite Codec Pack), VLC, Winamp, and very likely some other popular media player applications as well.
Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch can play M4A files directly from an email or website without needing a special app, regardless of whether or not the file uses AAC or ALAC. Other mobile devices may have native support for M4A playback as well.
Rhythmbox plays M4A files on Linux.
Note: Because the MPEG-4 format is used for both M4A and MP4 files, any video player that supports the playback of one file should also play the other since the two are the exact same file format.
How to Convert an M4A File
M4A file extension, but because this format doesn’t support bookmarks to save your last accessed place in the file, they are generally saved in the M4B format, which can store this information.
The MPEG-4 Audio format is used by Apple’s iPhone in the form of ringtones, but they’re saved with the M4R file extension instead of M4A.
If you want to convert an M4A files to common audio formats like MP3, FLAC, AC3, etc., you can use Apple Music Converter which is a powerful tool that will help you complete the task. More related articles:
More Help With M4A Files
See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Let me know what kinds of problems you’re having with opening or using the M4A file and I’ll see what I can do to help.