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What is an M4A file?
An M4A file is an audio file that may store various types of audio content, such as songs, podcasts, and audiobooks. It is saved in the MPEG-4 format and encoded with either the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codec or the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC). Various media players, including Microsoft Windows Media Player 2022 (Windows) and Apple Music (macOS) can open M4A files.
MPEG-4 is a multimedia container format that supports video, audio, subtitle, and image data encoded in different codecs. MPEG-4 files that store video bear the .mp4 file extension (.MP4 files). However, if the MPEG-4 file only stores audio, it is saved with the .m4a extension, which stands for "MPEG-4 Audio." This name change helped distinguish between MPEG-4 video files and MPEG-4 audio-only files.
You will most likely encounter M4A files when downloading audio content via the Apple iTunes Store. The content, typically songs, is encoded with AAC compression, which significantly reduces the size of each file. In addition, songs that include copyright protection have an .m4p file extension (.M4P files).
How to open an M4A file
You can play M4A files with various audio players, including Microsoft Windows Media Player 2022 (Windows), Apple Music (macOS), Microsoft Windows Media Player (Windows), Adobe Audition (multiplatform), and VideoLAN VLC media player (multiplatform).
NOTE: Windows Media Player 11 requires the K-Lite Codec Pack to play M4A files.
How to convert an M4A file
Many audio players and editors, including Adobe Audition, Apple GarageBand, and VideoLAN VLC media player, can convert M4A files to other audio formats.
For example, VLC media player can convert M4A audio to the following formats: