.M4A File Extension
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).
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 are saved as .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, most typically songs, is encoded with AAC compression, which significantly reduces the size of each file. Songs that include copyright protection have an .M4P extension.
How do I open an M4A file?
You can play M4A files with various audio players, including Microsoft Groove Music (bundled with Windows), Apple Music (bundled with macOS), Microsoft Windows Media Player (bundled with 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.