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Convert WMA audio files to MP3 on my Windows PC?

Dave Taylor By: Dave Taylor

I ripped a bunch of audio CDs in Windows Media Player and now want to convert them from “.wma” format to “.mp3” format so they’re more compatible with my various audio players and devices. Is there an easy way to convert wma to mp3 in Windows?

Dave’s Answer:

Audio file formats — known as compressor/decompressor algorithms or “codecs” — are a pain to work with because there are so many and while a small number of them retain every bit of the original (called “lossless”), there are a lot that actually lose some fidelity in the original material when compressing the file down to a smaller size.

You can definitely convert a Windows Media Player Audio file format (wma) to a Motion Picture Experts Group MPEG-2 Audio Layer III (commonly known as MP3) format, though you’ll need an additional app to do the conversion and if you have WMA files that are encoded or have digital rights management limitations, they might fail. If you’ve ripped your own audio CDs, however, as you say you’ve done, you shouldn’t have a problem.

The software I recommend for audio file conversion on a Microsoft Windows PC or laptop is

called Switch, from NCH Software. Your first step is to download Switch Audio Converter. Once installed you’ll have a couple of new entries on your contextual menus (the menu you get when you right-click on something in Windows Explorer), as shown here when I right-clicked on a .wma audio file:

switch convert audio wma mp3 1

The one we want to utilize is “Convert with Switch Sound File Converter”. Select it and the Switch program launches with this particular file shown in the pending queue:

switch convert audio wma mp3 2

The two key items to notice here are that you set the output audio file format on the lower left corner (the default is “mp3” so you probably don’t need to worry too much about it) and that you should pay attention to where the output file is going to be saved. I usually recommend having the output file in the same folder as the input file, which can be easily accomplished by checking the “Output to same folder as source files” box on the lower right.

Ready to convert it? Click on the big “Convert” button and…

switch convert audio wma mp3 3

When it’s done, your file will have been converted from WMA to MP3. Want to convert a ton of files at once? Just drag their folder or folders into the Switch window directly. It’s not the fastest app in the world, but the end result is well worth the wait.

Note that with Switch you can also Convert FLAC audio files to MP3 and any of dozens of other combinations of source and destination format. Very handy little app to have on your computer!

About The Author

Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs.

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