Easiest way to rip audio CDs to your computer

by on January 27, 2009

Q: What free software should I use to rip some audio CDs to my computer’s hard drive?

A: It’s always fun to help people rip music to their computers for the first time! Apple’s iTunes software is probably the best free CD ripping software for beginners. iTunes is pre-installed on today’s Macs, and you can download iTunes for Windows for free . For legal reasons, I recommend that you only rip music from your own CD collection.

To set your CD ripping preferences in the Windows version of iTunes, go Edit => Preferences => General. If your computer has a large hard drive, I suggest that you import your CDs at full quality by choosing the Apple Lossless option in Edit => Preferences => General => Import Settings => Import Using. Music imported with the Apple Lossless setting works great on today’s iPods!

If you have a portable music player that is not a member of the Apple iPod family and/or your computer’s hard drive is small, you can choose MP3 instead of Apple Lossless. I recommend that you create a personalized MP3 configuration using Edit => Preferences => General => Import Settings => Setting => Custom. Here are the MP3 settings that I prefer: 256 kbps => Use VBR => Quality => Highest, Stereo Mode => Normal, add checkmark to Smart Encoding, and remove checkmark from Filter Frequencies.

Once you’ve set your CD ripping preferences, you can immediately begin ripping audio from your CDs to your computer. Enjoy!

Tip: The iTunes installer usually installs a program called Apple Software Update. I advise that you ignore all programs that appear in the New Software section of Apple Software Update. To prevent Apple Software Update from installing unwanted programs: remove all checkmarks from programs in the Updates section, add checkmarks to all programs in the New Software section, then go Tools => Ignore Selected Updates.

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