Back in the day, when we were all busy ripping our CD collections, often the program we used would be Windows Media Player. It wasn’t great, but it worked and was already installed on our machines.
The problem is that Media Player’s default setting was to rip CDs in the WMA (Windows Media Audio) format.
In this guide, we’re going to put that right and convert WMA to the more useful MP3 format.
To convert WMA to MP3.
In order to make the conversion from WMA to MP3, you’re going to need to use an application that can do the job. Whilst there are many such programs around that you could use, the program of choice for me is VLC Media Player.
VLC has been around for many years. It’s free to use (open source), but you need to be careful where you download it from. Make sure you download from the VLC website, not from one of those file repository sites. They just load the install process with unwanted software.
Be Careful Here.
You need to be careful when you’re downloading VLC.
The VLC download is on a timer. Usually it’s set to wait around 5 seconds before beginning the download.
While you’re waiting you’ll see a big green button (or whatever is there when you visit). It’s there to tempt you into installing another program. Don’t click it.
Just be patient and wait for the download to start. You can usually see the timer counting down.
Once VLC has finished downloading, launch the installer, either from within your browser or from wherever you downloaded it to and install it onto your computer.
How To Convert WMA Files To MP3.
Now you’ve got VLC installed, it’s time to start converting your WMA files (songs) into MP3 files.
Left-click the MEDIA button in the top left-hand corner of VLC Media Player.
Then, on the menu that opens, left-click CONVERT/SAVE.
Add Files To Be Converted.
This is where you can tell VLC which files you want to convert from WMA to MP3. Click the ADD button.
Then navigate to the WMA files that you want to be converted.
In this example, my files are on my Desktop, so I’d click Desktop in the left-hand panel. If your files are in your Music folder, then you’d click Music in the left-hand panel.
Open the folder where your music tracks are locatedand select all the WMA tracks you want to convert to MP3 and then click the OPEN button.
The selected WMA files (tracks) will be added to the list.
To add files from a second folder, click the ADD button again.
Once you’ve got all the files added to the list, click the CONVERT/SAVE button.
You don’t need to click the drop-down arrow, just click directly onto the button.
WMA to MP3 conversion settings in VLC.
After clicking the Convert/Save button, the Convert Options Page will open , click the drop-down arrow in the Profile box.
Scroll through the menu that opens and select AUDIO – MP3.
Set The Audio Codec To MP3.
Don’t skip this step.
Next, you’ll need to edit the current profile.Left-click the Spanner icon.
Click the AUDIO CODEC tab.
On the AUDIO CODEC tab, click the drop-down arrow beside the Codec box. Scroll through and select MP3.
Finally, click the Save button.
Start Converting WMA files to MP3.
Click the START button to begin converting your WMA files into MP3 files.
As each WMA file (music track) is converted to MP3 by VLC, you can see a progress bar at the bottom of the screen.
Depending on how many files you’re converting and the speed of your computer, this might take a while.
What To Do After Converting Your Files.
The one thing that’s missing from VLC, when converting WMA files to MP3, is a way of separating them.
Ideally, you’d be able to output the converted files into a new folder to keep them separate from the originals.
Unfortunately, when you’re converting multiple files, VLC doesn’t allow you to choose a different folder to store your newly converted MP3 files in.
Which means they’ll go into the same folder as your WMA files.
Essentially you’re going to be doubling up, having the same track in the WMA format and as MP3.
I’d recommend that you separate them. It simply saves a lot of confusion later on.
There are two different things you can do.
Firstly, you could keep both sets of files, the WMA & MP3, but in different folders. If you’ve got the storage space available, this is what I’d do.
Secondly, since these are exactly the same songs (just in different formats), you could delete the WMA files from your computer.
Whichever you decide to do, here’s how to go about it.
With the folder that has your WMA and MP3 files inside it open, you can get Windows to find all the WMA files for us. Type –
Into the search box in the top right-hand corner of the folder window.
Then click the FIND button (the arrow).
Windows will display all the WMA files in that folder. It won’t show you the MP3 files, just the WMA versions.
Single left-click on one of them, anyone, it doesn’t matter which.
Then press CTRL and the letter A on your keyboard.
All the WMA files will be selected.
But only the WMA files, the MP3 versions are unaffected.
With all the WMA files selected, right-click on one of them, again it doesn’t matter which one.
You can either Cut and Paste them into a different folder, or simply delete them out of the way.
Converting WMA To MP3 – Conclusion.
If you only ever play your music on your PC, then it probably doesn’t really matter what format it’s in. Windows Media Player will play it along with a myriad of other media players that can be downloaded and installed. It’s really not going to be a problem.
It’s when you come to move your music tracks onto other devices that going to run into issues. MP3 is the most widely recognised audio format. Virtually any type of device that can play audio will play MP3. Which is what you want.
Simply transfer your audio files to your device and away you go. Trouble free. In that respect it’s well worth taking the time and trouble to convert WMA to MP3.