While MP4 videos are absolutely fantastic when taking family road trips through the vast expanses of nothingness that litter the sprawling void that is the Midwest — believe me I know — they’re also not the most conducive to portability and storage, especially if you merely want to listen to the audio from a particular file. And although most smartphones and dedicated music players can handle MP4s no sweat, it’s often far easier to convert the files to MP3 to lighten their footprint and grant the audio greater versatility. Luckily, there is an abundance of free file converters you can download for your desktop or use directly within your favorite browser to essentially strip the sound from your favorite videos. After all, sometimes merely hearing is believing.
Here’s our comprehensive guide on how to convert an MP4 file to an MP3 using some of our favorite conversion software. While you’re at it, check out our suggestions for the best free video converters and our favorite free media players for when iTunes just doesn’t cut it.
Updated on 8-4-2014 by Brandon Widder: We updated the how-to guide to include up-to-date screenshots and navigation for the most latest versions of AVC and CloudConvert. However, the following video provides a quick rundown for converting MP4 files to MP3 using YTD Video Downloader. Read on if you’re in need of two other alternative conversion methods.
Using Any Video Converter (Windows/Mac) — Free
Any Video Converter is a convenient little tool that allows you to extract MP4 audio and convert it directly into MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG or Wave format for use on a variety of mobile devices. The audio and video quality is exceptional for a free program, as is the lightning-quick conversion speed, and the resulting audio is supported on everything from Apple to Android devices and the diverse bulk of media players in between. Plus, the third-party utility houses basic options for trimming, cropping, and layering various audio effects within an easy-to-use interface.
Step 1: Download and install Any Video Converter
Navigate to the AVC website or the Mac App Store to grab the latest freemium or lite version of the software if you haven’t already. If using Windows, click the orange Free Download button near the middle of the download page and follow the installation instructions as directed, while remaining vigilant of any unnecessary toolbars or malware the software may try to install on your system during the installation process.
Step 2: Launch the program
Launch AVC by searching for the program in the Windows search bar or accessing the software through the programs menu. Similarly on Mac, you can launch the program by searching for it in Spotlight or accessing it through the applications menu, conveniently located within Finder.
Step 3: Select your MP4s
Once opened, you want to select the MP4s you wish to convert by clicking the Video(s) button with the addition sign in the upper-left corner of the program. A pop-up window will appear where you can navigate or search for the desired files on your computer. On a Mac, click the Add Video button in the bottom left-hand corner and select the files you wish to convert. Continue adding videos in the same manner until you’re satisfied with your selection. AVC allows you to convert multiple files at a time, so there’s no need to individually convert each video.
Step 4: Select your output preferences
In Windows, click the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner and select the Common Audio Format option — represented by the black music note — from the resulting list of options. Afterward, select MP3 Audio from the resulting drop-down menu, select your save location for the resulting file(s), and adjust your audio bitrate and sample bitrate under Audio Options in the bottom-right corner. Also, make sure the audio channel is set to “2” unless you want to go old-school mono.
Unfortunately the freemium Mac version of AVC doesn’t offer the same kind of audio output customization as its Windows counterpart, but you can still convert the MP4 file to MP3. Simply head to the Profile options at the bottom of the program window, choose Custom Settings and select MP3 Audio from the list.
Step 5: Convert
When you’ve finished setting your output preferences in Windows, simply click the Convert Now! button at the top of the window next to the presets option (or click the Convert Now! button in the bottom right-hand corner on a Mac). Although there are options for converting only specified files on your list, the whole batch will be converted by default unless you choose otherwise. The newly-converted files will automatically launch once converted.