How do I rip an MP3 CD in the iTunes format?

Myself, my boss and a couple of my coworkers have started exchanging MP3 CDs to expose each other to new music. I got four of his CDs and spent a long ass time manually rifling through the Contents.xml file on the first two to figure out how to reorganize them by album and artist. When I talked to a coworker who had ripped those CDs before me, she said that they were in some strange, proprietary iTunes format and she just popped them in her CD drive and iTunes automagickally copied the music to her comp and organized it. Muttering grumbles and curses under my breath the whole time, I went home and installed iTunes, only to find that I can’t figure out how to rip the damn things now that I have it. I’ve checked the box that says to ask me on autorun, too, and that don’t do jack shit, as the old proverb goes. Help!

I am unaware of any “iTunes format.” iTunes is just a music player, like Winamp. AFAIK, There’s no more of an “iTunes format” than there is a Winamp format. I don’t think I’ve ever burnt a CD with iTunes, but the Contents.xml thing sounds like something it would do. Maybe that’s what your coworker was referring to.

If you put a CD in your drive when iTunes is running, it should ask you if you want it to rip it for you. If it doesn’t (even if it does, actually), the CD should appear in the menu on the left, from which you can access, play and rip the CD. Click on the CD in the menu, then on the “Import CD” button on the lower right.

If it does show up, you’ll want to make sure you look at the preferences menu, advanced tab, importing tab to rip into your preferred file format (I think iTunes defaults to AAC).

It was. I was paraphrasing.

It doesn’t…

I see no such “Import CD” button anywhere. The only two buttons in the lower right are “Eject disc” and “Quickly browse your iTunes library”. The only other buttons are the standard playback fare.

Does the CD show up in the left menu?

Yup. iTunes version is, FWIW.

The import button is in the upper right corner of the window, so far as I am aware. It’s a big circle–the farthest to the right in the top.

In iTunes 7, the Import button has changed position to the lower right corner of the window when an inserted CD is selected. The import file format and CD insertion behavior can be changed in iTunes’ preferences.

The XML file is how iTunes imports and exports its library database.

In Edit = > Preferences… => Advanced (tab) => Importing (sub-tab) you can change the ripping behaviour. It gives you “On CD insert” then a number of choices. The same dialog allows you to choose the format for import - I use high-quality MP3, since the proprietary Apple format isn’t playable by either of my MP3 players.

Can’t you just use File/Import then browse to your CD Drive and import everything that’s in their?

iTunes plays MP3s with no troubles so nothing needs to be converted, just copied to your iTunes library.

If I read your OP correctly, you didn’t get an audio CD but rather a data CD that has MP3 files on it. In which case, you don’t need to rip the CD; just copy the files off it.

You mentioned having to install iTunes. What do you normally use to listen to MP3s?

Agreed. Presuming they have a .mp3 extension (or any other extansion you’re used to using) you should be able to navigate to your CD volume, and drag & drop copy them to wherever you keep the rest of your music and listen to them with whatever you usually use to listen to your music.


When you insert a CD and you click on the disc in the Source pane (on the left hand side), all the data should be visible and usable to sort with. You add them to your library by dragging the files into your library.

There are 3 types of formats for music on CD’s.

Audio CD
The kind that CD players have always been able to play. Limited to about 70-odd minutes and each song file is an .aiff. These files have no compression and are about 10 megabytes for every second. No metadata is available. Rights-protected music can be used (but only 6 copies, I think).

When you use this format in iTunes, it uses your internet connection to grab track data from Gracenote. You rip music from it by pressing the (v7) “Import CD” button on the lower right corner when you have the disc selected in the source menu.

MP3 CD (I think you have this type)
This is kind of like a Data CD (see below), but it is tweaked a bit to add the number to the file names, and iTunes automatically omits the rights-protected stuff other people don’t have permission to play. Some new cars and most DVD players have the ability to play these discs as easily as “normal” audio CDs. The added benefit is that you can get about a day’s worth of music on a single disc

Since these have already been “ripped” into MP3 (or AAC or whatever), you don’t need to “rip” them. With the CD selected (in iTunes), select the tracks and copy them into the Library in your source pane or (in Windows Browser) open the CD volume and drag them to your HD wherever you keep your files.

Data CD
This is the type of CD that people use to save or archive any ol’ type of file: word files, picture files, music files, movie files, etc. It’s exactly the same thing as above as far as iTunes is concerned except that it will copy your rights-protected music. But those songs won’t play for people who don’t have permission.

Not on my box.

Not on my box.

As I noted in the OP, I’ve done this and it didn’t change a thing.

Yeah. One at a time. No thanks.

Well, yeah, but they’re not at all organized on the CD. They’re all sitting in the root directory with the format:


It would be OK if the # referred to the track number, so I could at least tell which ones were on different albums, but it’s just an arbitrary counting system that starts at the first song and ends at the last song on the CD. I need my music to be organized by artist and album.

That’s so Apple. grumble grumble… I think that’s doing it.

Believe me, I know how CDs work. “Rip” wasn’t the right word to use of course, but I was pissed off at having to use a silly proprietary program to organize music for me when the guy who burned the CD could’ve expended ten minutes of effort to do it himself, and the words I wanted to use were even less appropriate.

Winamp, of course.

The # system may be arbitrary to you, but the software was designed to maintain playlist order that the person who created the disc. Some people would consider that a useful feature.

So it didn’t work to just select the files on the CD volume and copy them to your music folder on your HD?

Fair enough. My point is I won’t copy a list of files that don’t even have the artist name in them to my computer that way, not in a million years.

I thought that iTunes uses standard ID3 tags, so if the artist and album names were in the metadata when she made the disc, they should still be in there when they got copied onto the disc (and onto your HD). I don’t use WinAmp, but I had assumed that it could extract the metadata and use it. Am I incorrect?

The MP3s, if they were from iTunes, should have ID3 tags that store artist, album, and song title. Winamp should have a feature that reads these tags and sort the files accordingly. It’s been a while since I’ve used Winamp, so I can’t really help you with it. But iTunes can automatically sort the files if you let it.

Go to Edit->Preferences, click on the “Advanced” tab. Under the “General” sub-tab, make sure “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” is checked. Also make sure that “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” is checked. Click “OK”.

Now go to File->Add Folder to Library. Select the CD drive and click “OK”.

iTunes will sort the individual files into separate artist folders, then album folders, then individual tracks. Each file should have a track number and the title of the song.

Winamp should have a similar system.

An audio CD doesn’t consist of .aiff files; the audio tracks aren’t actually files at all (as the term in used in the computer industry). When the Red Book standard was released in 1980, it wasn’t anticipated that audio CDs would be used by computers any more than vinyl LP records had been.

This may seem a minor point, but it’s the reason why one has to use a program to rip audio tracks to a hard disk, rather than simply copy them using something like Windows Explorer (as one can do with the OP’s .mp3 files).

Did you mean to say “10 megabytes for every minute”? 10 MB per second wouldn’t even let you put a single song on the disk.

And my copy of iTunes is somewhat old (6.04), so this may have changed, but it ripped everything in mp3 format by default.