What Is An .M4a File?


I have been seeing an increase in .M4a files coming into my office.  I am normally familiar with .wav or .mp3 files so when these started coming through, I was curious about them.  Like I said before, in the "old days" you just got audio cassette tapes so you knew how to play them but today it is a bit more complicated because there are many file types out there and it can sometimes be a challenge to find the appropriate media player to play them.  

So what is an .M4a file?

It is an MPEG-4 file which streams audio.  It was originally used by Apple to distinguish audio files from their video files.  This file type was intended to be an improvement over .MP3 files delivering better quality audio recordings.  

Windows Media Player and VLC will generally play .M4a files without the need to download any additional files to update your media player.

.M4a files are still the preferred format for all audio included in apps that are released on the Mac and iOS App Stores as well as Nintendo and PlayStation products.  With more and more developers including support for M4a files, it is quickly becoming the primary format for compressed audio files.

So what does this mean for you?

Not much really except if you see an .M4a file you won't need to stress about it.  Try playing it on your media player app.  It should work. Programs that open .M4a files include iTunes, Quicktime, Windows Media Player, VLC, Roxio Popcorn, Toast and Creator.  

Can you convert .M4a files to other formats?  Yes, you could convert them to .MP3, .WMV or any other kind of format with the appropriate software but you might want to consider keeping the original format.

No need to fear.  M4a files are becoming more common audio files.  


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