Convert CD to mp3

(The original version of this article was first published on the Mp3 Backing Trax website circa 2006 – 2012)

So how do you convert songs a CD to mp3? Well, if you think all you need to do is insert a CD in your computers tray and drag the files on to your desktop…think again!

To convert a CD to mp3, you need to do two things:

  1. Get the music from the CD on to your computer
  2. Convert that music to mp3 format

Fortunately most modern day software programs have the ability to do both these processes and many can do both processes at the same time which makes it a whole lot easier.

How NOT to do it
First, let’s look at how NOT to copy a CD on to your computer. The most common mistake computer users make is that they think all they have to do is put the CD in to the tray and “drag” the files across to their desktop.


This is because when you “drag” files from a CD that’s in the tray, all your computer actually does is create “shortcuts” to each track instead of copying the actual music on the CD. To complicate matters even more, you probably think you’ve done it correctly because when you click on your link on your desktop it plays just fine so you automatically assume that it’s worked and that you’ve copied it over on to your computer correctly.

However, the only reason it’s playing just fine is because when you click on the “shortcut”, it then goes and finds the song which is still on the CD in the tray and plays it – take the CD out of the tray and then try playing it and you’ll find that it won’t play!

This is because the actual music isn’t on your computer, it’s still on the CD.

How to do it
So, how do you get the music from the CD on to your computer I hear you ask? Well, the answer is you need a special program to do it. Fortunately there are hundreds of programs – many of them free – which can do this job which is known as “ripping”.

A popular program for “ripping CD’s” which you may like is:

No matter whether you use FreeRip or any other program, most programs will work and handle the CD and the files they rip in a slightly different way so once you’ve chosen a program you want to use, simply refer to its help files for exact instructions on how to rip your CD.

Converting the CD audio to MP3
Just about every CD ripping program available today will convert the audio to mp3 for you too. Some may do it at the same time as it’s ripping the CD, others may rip the CD first then require you to convert those audio files to mp3 using a different part of the program.

Either way, refer to the instructions that come with the program you’re using – they should take you through the whole process step by step and make it as easy as possible for you.