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Play M4A Files for Free on Mac

Wondering how to play M4A files on Mac? Both Apple Music and QuickTime can open M4A, but they may feel limiting. Avid listeners may prefer Elmedia - a Mac M4A music player. It provides unparalleled functionality with an intuitive UI. Finding the best music player for Mac is not your only bet - find out more about the M4A format below.

Top choice
Elmedia: universal video player
4.8 Rank based on 1531+ users, Reviews(793)
How to play M4A on Mac using Elmedia

What Is M4A and How to Play M4A Files

To explain what M4A files are and how to play them, let’s start with the most popular music file format, the MP3. It’s still the most widely used audio file format because of the combination of high quality and small file size. Since the nineties, people have listened to MP3s, but music playback has had some improvements in the past 30 years.

M4A files didn’t develop from MP3s but the QuickTime File Format (QTFF). Some believed QTFF would replace MP3 as it progressed into the MPEG-4 (or MP4), which combined improved audio and video capacity with even smaller file size than MP3.

Files without the video component are M4A - still with improved audio quality and smaller file size. The only downside is that M4A players are challenging to find, but native applications on both Mac and Windows will play MP3.

Mac users are lucky because not only can iTunes play M4A, so can the QuickTime Player. But long-time Mac users know neither of these native applications offers the functionality that music-lovers expect from their audio playback.

What is M4A

Playing M4A Files: Superior Quality and Functionality

Even though it’s free, Elmedia Player can play M4A files with no quality loss. Compared to standard M4A player options - iTunes and QuickTime - Elmedia delivers superior performance for lossless audio formats.

The essential functions of this M4A player are simple to use, despite offering deep customization. For example, the playlist function works in any format.

If you store your CD library on your computer as FLAC files, then you also need a FLAC player for Mac. Rather than downloading separate players optimized for every file format, use Elmedia Player.

It accommodates most audio files with customizable playback, including the ability to play WMA on Mac, making it easy to switch between Microsoft audio format, MP3s, and playing M4A files.

Elmedia Player also allows you to create and edit playlists according to your unique specifications. And it’s worth mentioning the 10-Band Equalizer, which comes with ten comprehensive presets.

Playing M4A using Elmedia Player

How to Play M4A on Mac with Elmedia Player

Adding an M4A player to your Mac is easy, particularly when it’s the intuitive, powerful Elmedia Player. You can enjoy high-quality music in three easy steps:

1. Download the app.

Install Elmedia M4A Player on Mac

2. Add your M4A music files to Elmedia in several ways:

  • Drop M4A files on the player window or onto its icon in the dock
  • Right-click an M4A file in Finder and choose the "Open With" option
  • Select Elmedia Player from the list
  • In the player, go to the Main menu, choose "File" and then "Open"
Play M4A files with Elmedia
3. Enjoy your music!

How to convert M4A to MP3 using iTunes

Play M4A files using iTunes

Elmedia Player makes it easy to play M4A files on a Mac. Still, there may be times when you want to port your library to your iPhone or smartphone, iPad or tablet, or another device. Fortunately, it’s easy to convert M4A to MP3 using the native applications on your Mac.

Most people don’t know how to take advantage of the full range of iTunes features, such as its potential as a free audio file converter. Here’s how to convert your M4A files into MP3:

1. Open iTunes or the new Music application on later operating systems

  • Select Preferences from the main drop-down menu
  • Go to Files, and then Import Settings
  • Click on the drop-down menu for "Import Using:"
  • Select MP3 Encoder

2. Drag and drop M4A files into iTunes or Music

3. Select the files, then:

  • File
  • Convert
  • Create MP3 Version

4. There will now be two versions of the files in iTunes or Music, one as an MP3 and another M4A

While iTunes is convenient–since it’s a pre-installed Mac application, some people may find the process for converting their M4A files to MP3 for iPhone too complicated.

Convert M4A files to MP3 using online converters

Online converters will require internet access but offer a straightforward way to convert files from playing as M4A to MP3.

Zamzar Online File Conversion

Using Zamzar is easy for M4A to MP3 conversion, taking just three simple steps:

  1. Upload your M4A files to the website
  2. Choose MP3 for your desired output
  3. Click "convert", then "download"
Convert M3A to MP3 using Zamzar

Convertio M4A to MP3

Convert M3A to MP3 using Convertio

Convertio is one of the most powerful online audio file conversion tools, with a simple process that offers 26 unique audio formats.

  1. Upload M4A files to the Convertio page
  2. Select MP3 among the dozens of offered outputs
  3. Click "convert" and then "download"

For those who often transfer files between multiple devices, consider converting your entire library to the MP3 format for simplicity’s sake. If you do so, you’ll need an audio file player that offers the best playback for MP3 on Mac. Elmedia Player is ranked best-in-class for MP3, M4A, WAV, AAC, and more.

How To Play M4A On Android

Play M4A on Android using VLC

Mac users enjoy several excellent options for M4A and MP3 audio playback, with native applications and free M4A player downloads, but most Android devices cannot play M4A files. For Android users, it’s necessary to download third-party apps through the Google Play store.

VLC Player for Android is a reliable M4A player, as it supports most audio and video file formats in existence today. Besides being a free way to play M4A files, it offers a straightforward interface for simple playback.


While Mac offers simple solutions for playing M4A files, Windows users sometimes find that their Windows Media Player cannot play M4A. It’s a simple solution to enjoy the same playback options. Just by updating to the latest version of Windows Media Player, you can enjoy the same versatility of supported audio formats, including M4A, as provided by Mac.

The best support for playing M4A files on Mac comes from Elmedia Player. It’s intuitive and easy to use. Just drop your M4A files onto the player window or its icon in your dock.

You can also open Elmedia Player directly from an audio file by right-clicking to play your M4A files. Then choose "Open With", and select Elmedia Player from the options. Or, open the player and play your M4A files by going to the File menu, selecting "Open", and choosing the files you want to play.

Converting files from M4A to MP3 is possible on all Mac products, including Macbook Pro, using the iTunes or Music application. Start by launching iTunes.

  1. Go to Preferences and select General.
  2. Navigate to Import Settings.
  3. From the Import Using drop-down menu, select MP3 Encoder.
  4. The next drop-down bar allows you to choose the bitrate for the converted MP3 files.
  5. Click OK, and then OK again to close the Preferences window.

Port your converted files to iPhone, iPad, music players, and more.

Elmedia: universal video player
Requirements: macOS 10.12+ , 89.23MB of free space
Version 8.10(3265) (24 Nov, 2022) Release notes
Category: MultimediaApplication