While MP4 videos are absolutely fantastic when taking family road trips through the vast expanses of nothingness that litter 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 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.

Here’s our comprehensive guide on how to convert an MP4 to an MP3 using some of our favorite conversion software. You may not be able to do to it with the latest version of iTunes like you used to, but there are far better programs for your desktop and on the Web that make the process a snap.

Choose your conversion method:

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 orWave formats 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.

Step 1: Download and install Any Video Converter

Head over 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. Follow the download and installation instructions as directed, but remain vigilant of any unnecessary toolbars or malware the software may try to install on Windows.

Step 2: Launch the program

Navigate and open AVC by searching for the program in the Windows searchbar 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.

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 right-left corner of the program. A popup 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 (note: you can convert more than one MP4 at a time).

Step 4: Select your output preferences

On Windows, click the Preset Output button with the wrench in the upper right-hand corner and click through the various output devices at the top of the popup window until you come to the Common Audio Format (the icon is a green music note). Select the icon and choose MP3 Audio from the resulting drop-down menu, select your save destination and click the CONFIRM button. Then adjust your audio bitrate and sample bitrate options in the botton right-hand corner under the audio options. 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 ALL File(s) NOW button at the top of the window next to the presets option. Although there are options for converting only specified files on your list, the whole batch will be converted by default unless you choose otherwise from the button’s drop-down list. The Mac equivalent to the conversion button is the Convert Now button in the bottom right-hand corner. Click it and choose Open Output Folder to view the files when they’ve finished processing!

Next Page: Convert using CloudConvert