Importing Audio Book CDs into iTunes

Importing CDs for audio books can be kind of painful, because there are usually a lot of them. To make matters worse, each CD usually has dozens of tracks on it, which makes it a nightmare to manage on the small screen of an iPod. This import process attempts to reduce the amount of manual input, while also making sure that the track information is highly usable on an iPod.

First thing to do is set your Importing preferences. Meaning, in the AAC Encoder settings , choose a Stereo Bit Rate of 64 kbps, a Sample Rate of Auto, a Channels of Auto, and check the Optimize for voice checkbox.

  • Insert the CD, and wait for the tracks to appear in iTunes. Sometimes you’ll have to dismiss a dialog or two which invites you to do some automatic action. Don’t. Just display the tracks.


  • Select all of the CD’s tracks, and choose Join CD Tracks from the Advanced menu:


This will consolidate the many tracks on the CD into one, which will make it much easier to manage when the tracks are copied to your iPod (the indication that the tracks are joined is subtle):

  • Click the Import button (top right corner) to import this disc, using the import settings you set up initially.
    When the import finishes, eject the CD.

Repeat this process for the each CD in the audio book, until you have imported all of the CDs.

Using iTunes on a PC, you’ll need to do change the m4A extension to m4B so the AudioBooks will be in the Audiobook section in iTUNES and the iPOD. Changing the filename extensions from ”.m4a” to ”.m4b” will do the trick. Use the File/Show Song File menu choice to reveal the folder with the book files, and rename away. If you can’t see the ”.m4a” file extension, then uncheck the Hide extensions for known file types option in the Advanced Settings section of the Folder Options control panel. You then need to tell iTUNEs to find the file again but thats no big deal.

Sync to your iPod, and enjoy a great book!

– edit… You have a mac well have a read of this post then.

75 Responses to “Importing Audio Book CDs into iTunes”

  1. July 29, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    how do you get music from your ipod back onto itunes

  2. July 29, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    Getting music off the ipod is pretty easy, so I am told.

    iTUNEs wont let you so you need some other software – some you have to buy but SharePOD is meant to do the job well.

    Try that at http://www.sturm.net.nz/website.php?Section=iPod+Programs&Page=SharePod

  3. July 29, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    Forgot to say…thanks for the comment – my first one!!!

    Hope the answer helps, if not post back and I’ll work it out.

  4. July 30, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    thank you i’ll try the sharepod, and sorry if i posted the same comment multiple times, for some reason it didn’t show up, so i thought it didn’t work but i guess it did =)

  5. July 30, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    the reason you didn’t see comments was because I had the option turned on that held every comment until I approved them. I have turned it back to letting people post but if I start getting trash/spam from others I’ll go back.

    Let me know how Sharepod goes?

  6. 7 Eddy
    August 22, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    Looking good, Goldcoaster!

  7. 8 R. Ayotte
    October 3, 2006 at 3:05 am

    This is exactly the info. I need, but is there a way to do this with a Creative Lab mp3 player?

  8. October 3, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    I’ll look into it for you. Keep coming back and post if I haven’t answered, just to jog my memory.


  9. 10 R. Ayotte
    October 11, 2006 at 4:31 am

    How is this done when you have a creative labs mp3 player?
    R. Ayotte

  10. October 11, 2006 at 9:58 am

    I have searched but can’t find much. m4b is an Apple format.
    Does the Creative support any type of audiobook? What model Creative is it?
    Maybe you can put it in an Audiobook fold on the player (just guessing)

  11. 12 Frank D
    January 29, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Ok, I followed you instructions to a tee and now have a great .m4b file of the book I recently purchased. Problem is, I cannot get it into the AUDIOBOOKS folder!

    I am looking for guidance on how to achieve this WITHOUT doing a full iPOD synch as my iTUNES library is shared with my wife and we don’t want all of each others music, etc.

    I have played with this thing for many hours now and welcome all advice /solutions. Running iTUNES 7.

    Thanks in advance

  12. January 30, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for dropping by Frank.

    I have noticed that iTunes 7 has changed things slightly. The audiobooks can not be higher than 64kbs Bitrate or they won’t go in the Audiobook section – why? Don’t ask me, it must be some strange Apple logic.

    Previously they could be any bitrate – mine were 128kbs and after going to v7 of iTunes they wouldn’t be audiobooks anymore!! I read that V7 needs them to be 64kbs.

    Try again, this time makng them 64kbs Bitrate. It seems a lot of work but once you have done one successfully you will realise how easy it is.

  13. 14 Oli
    March 4, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Hi, I’ve been also trying to get my audiobooks into the “Audiobooks” section of iTunes but I’ve tried the above 64kbs tip and still nothing. I can’t drag and drop and selecting Audiobooks does nothing as well.

    Any more tips?

  14. 15 Red Dragon
    April 9, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Hi i was looking for a way to add audiobooks, and thanks. i had to import cd as spoken quality, 64kbs then rename the file from m4a to m4b then reimport the file in to the library and there it was under audiobook, all done. thanks alot

  15. April 9, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks , Red Dragon. I am really glad I helped you.

  16. 17 adri
    April 13, 2007 at 7:07 am

    Hi! i was just wondering if you could take me through the steps to convert it to the .m4b format, i cant seem to find the ‘show song’ file..any help would be great!

  17. 18 cw
    April 13, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    hi, i have followed all of the above steps and renamed my files to .m4b extensions, but they will not show up in itunes 7 (they are in 64kps) how do you reimport file to library?

  18. April 13, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    Just add the m4b files to itunes, just the same way as adding music.
    Easy way is to drag the folder the m4b files are in to the music library (upper left of itunes)and drop them…itunes will now have them.

  19. 21 Tim
    April 26, 2007 at 1:57 pm


    I’m using Itunes 7.1.1 and I’m stuck on the importing into the audiobooks folder that comes with itunes. I’ve done everything in the blog I can find, even tried using podcast quality, 64kbits quality with auto and stereo/41.1k settings, changed it to m4b, can’t figure it out.

    Any other ideas?


  20. April 26, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    Don’t forget to re-import the new m4b tracks – itunes will still be looking for the old ones.
    Hope this helps.

  21. 23 Tim
    April 27, 2007 at 12:03 am

    no that doesn’t help. I’m using a Mac, but that shouldn’t make a difference should it?

  22. April 27, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    OK Tim I’ll look into it a little more. I am pretty sure Macs have a lttle applescript that does all this automatically.
    I’ll get back to you.

    If I don’t post an answer in the next day or so, post again to remend me please, glad to help.

  23. 25 Tim
    April 28, 2007 at 1:26 am

    I found that using File Buddy to change both the extension (.m4b) and the file type (M4B ) which needs that extra space after B worked for me. Thanks!

  24. 26 Mike T.
    May 2, 2007 at 2:49 am

    Thanks TIm! The TYPE was what I was missing. And thanks for the pointer to File Buddy! Haven’t seen a good file manipulation program since OS7! 😉

  25. 27 markus
    May 5, 2007 at 5:48 am

    Is there an easy way to join multiple cds of an audiobook into one file for PC users? I found software for mac (audiobooker) but nothing for PC.

  26. May 6, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    I think audacity can do it but I find that it is best to only have CD length (1hour) tracks anyway.
    Some books are 15 CDs, you wouldn’t want them all joined into one 15 hour track (in fact I pretty sure the ipod can’t handle tracks that long – the bookmarking gets messed up)
    So just join the tracks on each CD.

  27. 29 Mike
    May 10, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Great info!

    Is there a wayto join already ripped m4b’s? I put a fairly large audio book library together (that I got from the library) before I realized I needed to join the files and I don’t want to re-rip.

    Any suggestions?


  28. May 10, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    m4b are really just bookmarkable m4a files find a program that can join m4a’s – maybe audacity.

  29. 31 jrg1990
    May 17, 2007 at 3:46 am

    goldcoaster: I love you so much. Words cannot describe how much you rule!

    Ive been trying to do this now for… just about as long as ive had iTunes (2/3years), to no avail. I come to your tutorial, and its done in 5 minutes, all working and correct! Hallelujah!

    Thank you!!

  30. May 17, 2007 at 10:21 am

    I am glad it has helped you. You have made my day!

  31. 33 foomonster
    June 8, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Many thanks for the concise and informative tutorial, it’s a real help. There are a couple of things I don’t quite understand, though.

    First, how is it that simply changing the filename extension from ‘m4a’ to ‘m4b’ makes the files bookmarkable? Changing the name doesn’t actually alter the file any…

    Second, I’m confused about the step of “re-importing” the files after you’ve renamed them to m4b. Is the library now going to think there are two copies of the file, one with an m4a extension and one with m4b, even though we RENAMED the m4a one and it technically doesn’t exist anymore? How is this supposed to work?

    Thanks again!

  32. June 8, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    thanks foomonster for the comment.

    m4a and m4b are the same but itunes will only accept m4b as audiobooks (they are both bookmarkable)

    iTunes will have the original m4a in it’s list, if you click it it will say it can’t find the file and do you want to find it – you can point it to the new file or you can delte all the old m4a’s out of itunes and then just import the new files.

    Hope I make sense. I know its a bit of pain but once you have done it you will see how easy it is. It would have been nice for iTunes just to accepts any file and you just tag it audiobook but no, Apple doesn’t work that way.

  33. 35 jim
    June 12, 2007 at 9:12 am

    if i down load a audio book from the i-tunes sight
    and sync my i pod , does not show up in audio book
    list so it sounds like i need to do the 64kbits
    thing and how do i do this to a book thats been
    downloaded from the i-tunes store.


  34. June 12, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for the comment.
    If you have download an audiobook from the Apple iTunes music store and it doesn’t go to the audiobook section, I would contact Apple and complain – you paid for it, why should it be up to you to fix it.

    You can check the bit rate by highlighting the file and choosing Get Info. If it is more than 64kb/s than Apple should fix it.

  35. 37 jim
    June 17, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    for your reply I did get a refund from apple
    as their e-mail support team could offer me no
    suggestions on the issue. The translation
    went on for about 10 days before so.
    I have since bought another book from the
    store with the same problem , I will contact
    apple support again and ask them about the 64kb/s
    issue , will follow up as to what happens.

  36. June 17, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks for letting me know Jim. You would figure that buying from the itunes store would be problem free but it seems not.

    thanks again.

  37. 39 jim
    June 18, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    I checked the kb/s in my i-tunes and they all show 32kb/s for the 5 books that i have , when i
    update the pod with the computer
    3 of them will load into audio books , but the last two i bought in the last 3 months load into
    purchased music. I updated to the latest version
    of i-tunes today 7.2 and that did not make any difference. They show up under audio books in the
    computer but not in the pod , just shows under
    purchased list. Will let you know what apple says
    in the next few days.


  38. June 18, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Thanks Jim, keep me posted please.

  39. 41 Becca
    June 26, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Okay, I have one slight problem with the tutorial. How do you change the file? Because when ever I go to file, there is nothing that says show song file. Thanks!

  40. June 26, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Sorry, it has been a while since I have done this.
    The File/show song is in iTunes, maybe not in 7 anymore, and it would take you straight to the Windows folder that the songs are stored in.
    Instead of that just go to the directory that the songs are located, using Windows explorer, and change the extension there. If you cannot see the extension you need to turn that option on.
    In XP it is in Tools/Folder Options/View and untick the “Hide extensions for known files”…

  41. 43 lil' man
    July 4, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Hi i have a ipod and i like the audio books and i would like the audio books to go into the audio book folder so it will rember were it left off at?


  42. July 5, 2007 at 8:53 am

    lil man , just follow my instructions and you will be fine.

  43. 45 dw
    July 22, 2007 at 7:40 am

    Thanks for your knowledge. When using “Get Info” under the “Options” tab if the “Remember playback position” is checked it isn’t necessary to change the file extension name from “m4a” to “m4b”. Also, under the “Info” tab changing the “genre” to Audibook and marking it as part of a compliation has been helpful also.

  44. 46 dw
    July 22, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Ah, however, I do see what you mean by the m4b extension, it does add an “audiobook” folder which is nice. Thank you so much!

  45. July 22, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    thanks for the comments DW.
    I like the audiobooks in the Audiobook section and like you have found out, you need them to be m4b files.

  46. 48 Andrea
    July 25, 2007 at 10:44 am

    I did everything as you said, and It worked the first time. Now after I change the file to m4b, it doesn’t show up when I click on the file in itunes. The folder that it should be in is empty.

  47. July 25, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Andrea, thanks for the comment.
    Now you have the book as mp4 you need to re-import them. If you try to play the originals in itunes it can’t find them – just delete these in itunes and import the new ones and you are done.

    It sounds hard but once you have done the first time it will be easy.

  48. 50 funkyj
    August 11, 2007 at 3:22 am

    goldcoaster said: <>

    It depends, if the 15 hour track fits on your ipod with space to spare then who cares?

    Many of the books on audible come in 4-6 hour pieces. While you may not want a 15 hour track (e.g. you are using an iPod shuffle and the 15 hour track is too big) it is very reasonable to want a 2-8 hour track.

    I have the entire Patrick O’Brien series in my library (thanks audible.com) and all of the books come in 4-8 hour pieces (60-120 MB files).

    Thanks for all the valuable information about ripping audiobooks! I had known about the “join CD tracks” option but I had forgotten where it was located :^)

  49. August 11, 2007 at 9:51 am

    thanks for the comment , funkyj.
    About the 15 hour track – I have read that some people have problems with tracks this long. I find it easy just to keep it at CD lengths – actually I have no idea how to join multiple CDs together as one track on iTunes – can it be done?

  50. 52 Mark Nelson
    August 28, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I have around 8 gigs of audio books stored on my hard drive which I want to play back from itunes this can be done easily but I cannot edit it and join tracks like I could do if it was coming off a CD. Does anyone know a step by step method how I can do the same from A folder ON MY HARD DRIVE as it where from a cd? Thank you in advance Mark

  51. August 28, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks for the comment Mark.
    try a program like http://mp3merge.netfirms.com/ it is free or maybe even audacity (free as well). I haven’t used it myself so let me know how it goes.
    Once you have one large mp3 (don’t make it more than an hour or so) import it via itunes, converting as m4a 64kb/s then rename etc like above.

  52. 54 Xanthan
    October 19, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    I use a freeware app called MP3 to Ipod Audio Book converter. Yes I said freeware not shareware ^.~

    It’s what I use, it can take a multiple file MP3 Audio Book join them into 1 big file, then it converts them all to m4b. All you do is put the mp3’s in order then just click start conversion, so simple. After that you just add the newly created m4b to your itunes library. If this sounds good to you it can be downloaded from:



  53. October 19, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks , Xanthan. I haven’t used this nor seen it before – looks good.
    I don’t have mp3 audiobooks to start with but many people do and this would be perferct for them.
    Once again, thanks.

  54. March 5, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks for the info.
    SharePOD isn’t too bad, but if you’re running on PC or Media Player you should also check out dopisp (just Google it.)
    Anyway, is this the best thing to do with an audio book? I mean, if your iPod battery goes flat while you’re listening to the audio book (now, one track) won’t it make it a little more difficult to find your place next time? Dividing the tracks into chapters makes more sense – actually, keeping it so seperated makes it easier to find your last position. So, I prefer just copying the tracks on exactly as they are.

  55. March 6, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Thanks for the comment.
    One track is much better than multiple tracks. remember the ipod marks audiobooks so it remember the last place you have been… no need for multiple tracks.

  56. 59 Keith
    March 28, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Many thanks for the info. Still cant get books into audiobooks, BUT have got reasonable files in MUSIC- cant be bothered to change file size, have finaly found how to convert m4a to m4b (control panel-file options etc,) but as I cant be r’s to change the fil size I shall just put into MUSIC- although it does grieve me- Like having a boot in the car BUT having the spare wheel sat on the passenger seat.
    Thanks again- you are a thousand times more helpful than itunes help

  57. 60 sarah-luvvom
    June 17, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I’m trying to change my file name from m4a to m4b. When I get to the part of “show song file” mine says “show current song” BUT it is grayed out so you can’t click on it. What do I do now?

  58. 61 brad
    July 6, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    i can for the filename extensions where do u see em

  59. 62 brad
    July 6, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I CAN”T GET IT !!!

  60. July 6, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Brad, in Vista or XP you need to go to folder option and say you want to see the extensions.

  61. July 14, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    I just used this to tutorial to convert MP3 to AAC in iTunes, the file was then m4a, but it was still placing the book into my music folder. So I read some where about renaming file to m4b which I did in Windows and then added it to iTunes again and it WORKED! It finally placed it into my audio books folder at 128kb/s not m4a 64kb/s 😉

  62. July 30, 2008 at 12:59 am

    Hi ,

    i have been trying to import tunes from a CD into itunes library. its important that i get all the CD in order as they are all number from 1-25 but for some reason i cannot import the CDs in order for example no 15 is appearing at the top of the screen where CD 1 should be. any idea!


  63. July 30, 2008 at 9:55 am

    First thing that may help is make sure the numbers are 01,02,03 not 1,2,3

  64. 67 chris with iphone
    August 13, 2008 at 7:52 am

    hey thanks alot for the audiobook guide its very nice 🙂 now i can import my audio book cd’s and have them appear correctly
    thanks a lot goldcoaster!

  65. September 21, 2008 at 9:24 am

    I wrote a more detailed version of this

  66. September 21, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for the comment Garth. Yours is for mac it seems. Are you sure you need that many steps?

  67. 70 MAC
    April 28, 2009 at 4:21 am

    Thanks for the detailed instructions. It was working really well, I got one and a half audio books imported before things went bad. All of a sudden in the middle of the second audio book itunes stopped letting me join tracks. Any idea why this is? What can I do to fix it? Thanks again for the help.

  68. 71 SULLY
    February 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Definitely a little bit of a hassle, but THANKS for making it much easier! ITunes didn’t always get the CD info, so I had to play around with the file name.

  69. 72 banana jacks
    August 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Hello there, You’ve performed an incredible job. I?ll certainly digg it and for my part suggest to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this site.

  70. 73 Christopher
    September 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for teaching me about Importing Audio Book CDs into iTunes. I got so many Audio books and your post help me alot. Thanks for the detailed instructions. It was working really well.

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