What Can Be Used to Play M4a Files?

Written by justin beach
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What Can Be Used to Play M4a Files?
M4A is an improvement on the MP3 format. (headphones image by Radoslav Lazarov from Fotolia.com)

M4A stands for MPEG 4 Audio. These files do everything an MP3 does but with added features. M4A files have better audio quality and usually smaller file sizes than MP3s. Another key difference is in royalties. The MP3 format is owned by a company and royalties are due to that company for anything distributed in MP3 format. M4A does not require royalty payments. Soon nearly every popular media player should handle M4A. Several popular players already do.

Apple iTunes

Apple's popular iTunes player will both create and play M4A files. iTunes will also rip CDs into M4A format. If your copy of iTunes isn't playing M4A files, you might need to upgrade to a more recent version. You can get a free iTunes player at http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/.>


VLC Media Player

The VLC Media Player is a free, open-source media player that plays M4A files. VLC Media Player is a good tool to have on hand as it is available for free for Mac, Windows and Linux and plays nearly every known media format, including .m4a, .mp3, .divx, .xvid, .rm, flac and many, many others. You can get VLC Media Player at videolan.org/vlc.

Windows Media Player

Many people have had trouble playing M4A files with Windows Media Player (WMP). There are plug-ins that should allow WMP to handle the files. Windows Media Player users should visit WMPlugins.com and search for .m4a to find the most recent plug-ins and codecs for WMP.


There are a wide variety of other programs that can be used to play, convert and create M4A files. The freedownloadcenter.com link in the resources section below will give you a long list of software that you can try for free. Another good source for audio software--one that is specifically mentioned by m4a.com--is AudioCoding.com, which contains free and open-source software for playing and creating a variety of audio file formats.

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