How and why to use Apple Lossless when you rip CDs with iTunes

How and why to use Apple Lossless when you rip CDs with iTunes
Quick Mac Tip, 09 January 2011

With music there’s always a trade-off between file size and sound quality. Bjornar Kibsgaard explains how to balance the two with the Apple Lossless format.

This guest Tip is copyright © to Bjornar Kibsgaard, All About Apple Laptops.

If you are like me and want the best iTunes sound quality possible you have a few options to consider. Almost all music online today is compressed in one form or another. You probably already know about MP3, WMV or AAC files. The format doesn’t really matter because they are usually based on the same thing: compression.

Compression reduces file size

If we take a music CD and copy one of the songs straight to the computer without doing anything else the file would be quite large. Anything between 50–100MB is normal depending on the song length.

This is why we came up with compression in the first place. To transfer a file like this on the Internet would take a lot of time depending on connection speed. At least in the good old days.

Bjornar Kibsgaard of All About Apple Laptops. Bjornar Kibsgaard: Since 2008 I have been running the website: Apple Laptops. I write about almost anything related to the products Apple make. At the same time I try to help out new Mac users with their questions or problems.

Compression takes away parts of the sound that human ears can’t hear. By doing this the file size is reduced and gets more manageable. Of course there is more to this compression algorithm but I see no point in explaining it further. There are many websites that go into the technology in more detail.

The disadvantage of saving space is that some of the quality may be lost.

Use Apple Lossless for better quality

Now I am going to show you how to rip your music CDs in Apple Lossless. This procedure will still compress your file but think of it like a .zip file. It won’t decrease the sound quality and the file will be smaller compared to directly from the CD.

Today hard drive prices are pretty low in my opinion and this is one more reason for going lossless. At least for archival purposes.

Insert your CD and the window will popup. Select No here because we are going to change some settings.

  1. Open iTunes Preferences.
  2. Click the Import Settings button.
  3. Choose to import using Apple Lossless Encoder. Then click OK to get out of this window, and OK again in the other window.

Now click the Import CD button in the lower right corner of iTunes, and it will start to rip the CD and encode it with our newly set settings.

Now you have your CD in the iTunes library with the best quality possible. It will take up more disk space but it is worth it in my opinion.

How to use FLAC files

FLAC is another lossless audio format people tend to use. iTunes does not support these files but with the application XLD will help you re-encode your FLAC files to Apple Lossless and at the same time place the files in the iTunes library for you. In one single click. Best of all: the software is free.

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  1. Kevin Staniforth said:

    Thanks for the info.
    Once you have the tracks in lossless on itunes and burn them to a blank CD-R to play on your hi fi.
    Will they be in lossless on the CD-R?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      The files on the CD will be in the same format as they are in iTunes when you select them to go on the CD.

  2. Bjornar said:


    Yes, using lossless is also a great way to store your CDs because there is no loss in quality. :)

  3. babs said:

    haha! :D thanks a bunch! this post made me think of the idea of making lossless files for my cd and storing them to an external hard drive. THANKS!! ^^

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