While MP4s 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, we know — they’re not the most conducive to portability and storage, especially if you merely want to listen to the audio from a particular file. One of the best ways around that is to turn them into the much more storage-friendly MP3 format. But for that, you need to know how to convert an MP4 to an MP3
Luckily, there is a host of free file converters you can download for your desktop, or use directly within your browser, to strip the sound from your favorite videos. Below are two of our favorites, along with instructions for using each to convert your MP4.
If you’re looking to convert FLAC files into MP3s, we have a guide for that too.
Using Any Video Converter (free) — Windows and MacOS
Any Video Converter is one of our favorite video converters 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, has a lightning-quick conversion speed, and the resulting audio is supported on everything from Apple to Android devices. Plus, the third-party utility houses basic options for trimming, cropping, and layering various audio effects within an easy-to-use interface.
Step 1: Navigate to the AVC website or the Mac App Store to grab the latest freemium or lite version of the software. If using Windows, click the “Free Download” button near the middle of the download page and follow the installation instructions as directed.
Note: There is some bloatware included with the install, so be careful to choose to “Customize” your install and untick any unnecessary boxes.
Step 2: Click the Start button and select AVC from the alphabetical list on the left to launch the program, or click the application in the taskbar if you pinned it there. 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 the MP4(s) you want to convert by clicking the “Add 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 is no need to individually convert each video.
Step 4: 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 drop-down menu, select your save location for the resulting file(s), and adjust the 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.
Sadly, 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 MP4 files to MP3. Simply head to the “Profile” options on the right side of the program window, choose the headphones icon, and select “MP3 Audio” from the list.
Step 5: Click the “Convert Now!” button at the top of the window, next to the presets option. On a Mac, click the “Convert Now” button in the bottom right-hand corner to carry out the same action. 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!
Using CloudConvert (free) — web-based
CloudConvert is an intuitive, cloud-based service that provides a standalone option that requires little more than an internet connection and your file. It’s entirely free, requires no additional software to run, and supports quick conversion between more than 100 formats — most notably MP4 to MP3, in our case.
While the resulting audio quality is great, as is the conversion speed, a free account can only handle files less than 1GB in size. Other limits to the free version are a maximum of 25 conversion minutes per day, five concurrent conversions, and free accounts have low priority compared to paid accounts. However, CloudConvert should suit your needs if your only need to convert a few smaller files per day.
Step 1: Navigate to the Cloud Convert website in your browser.
Step 2: Click the “Select files” button in the middle of the page and select the video files you wish to convert to MP3. A pop-up window will appear where you can locate or search for the desired files on your computer. You can also choose a file from a URL, or from your Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or your Box account. Note that you need to sign up for a free CloudConvert account before linking to your cloud storage service.
Once your files are selected, click the “Open” button in the lower-right corner to add the file to the conversion queue.
Step 3: Click the “Select format” button that appears after adding your MP4 to the list, then select “audio” and “MP3” from the drop-down list. Click the wrench icon located directly beside the file if you wish to fine-tune the audio bit rate (up to 320 kbps), channels, frequency, normalization, or trim the new file to a specified length. The latter is an incredibly handy tool if your video has an introduction or ending with undesired audio. When finished, click the blue “OK” button.
Step 4: CloudConvert offers two additional options besides your typical download. Check the top box if you want Cloud Convert to send the resulting MP3s directly to your Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or Box account after the conversion is complete. You can also be notified when the conversion is completed if desired.
Step 5: Click the red “Start Conversion” button on the right side of the page when you finished setting your desired output and save preferences. A gray and yellow bar will appear at the top indicating the conversion’s current status, along with a cancellation button should you change your mind for whatever reason. Afterward, wait for the conversion to complete.
Step 6: It may take some time, but CloudConvert will notify you when your conversion is complete. Now just click the green “Download” button and select a save destination for the file. If you chose either of the two save options in Step 4, the resulting MP3 should already be in your Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or Box account.
Now that you ripped your audio, if you need a decent MP3 player to play it on. These are our favorites.