iTunes Tip: Find Out How Much Space You Can Save on Your iPod if You Convert Songs to 128 kbps AAC

Sorry for that long title, but it’s hard to say this more succinctly. When you connect your iPod to your computer, the Summary pane gives you a number of options for syncing. One of them is “Convert higher bit rate songs to 128 kbps AAC.” If you check this, iTunes will convert any songs that are higher than 128 kbps, either AAC or MP3, to AAC files at this bit rate.

Normally, you don’t want to convert from one lossy format to another, but if you’re listening to music on your iPod outdoors, you won’t notice the difference in quality. The advantage is that you can save a lot of space. If, for example, all your music is ripped or purchased at 256 kbps, you can put twice as much music on your device.

But you may want to know how much space you can save, especially if you have music files at different bit rates. With iTunes 10, first look at the Capacity bar at the bottom of the window. For example, with my 32 GB iPod touch, I see this:

If you check the option mentioned above, the Capacity bar will immediately change, and you’ll see how much more free space you’ll have:

Previously, the capacity bar would increase in real time as content was added to your device. Now, in iTunes 10, you can see the results of your change even before you start syncing.

Note that making this conversion can lead to a very long sync, at least the first time; I’d suggest you do it overnight. Subsequent syncs are much faster, but are still slower than if you simply copied music files. But if you want to put more music on your iPod, this is a good way to do so. Check the option, click Apply, then wait. You’ll notice that subsequent syncs will take longer if you have new music to put on your device, but after that first sync, unless you change a lot of music, it won’t take too long.

Learn more about iTunes 10 in my ebook Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ.

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9 replies
  1. Jet Jackson says:

    I really like it that iTunes now tells me whether my selections exceed my capacity.

    I wonder if there’s any way to do this with the Hi Efficiency encoding? If I were going to compromise b/w space & quality, that’d be my ticket.

    Oh, and on the subject of quality? Upgrade yer earbuds & it’s a whole new world!

    Like the article, Kirk!

    • kirk says:

      I disagree, but people have different opinions on this. If you’re outdoors with an iPod, even good headphones won’t make that much of a difference. I think that anyone who spends more than, say, $50 to $75 on headphones to use on the go is wasting money. (Okay, those noise-canceling cans are an exception.) If you listen to music in a quiet environment it makes a difference, but not when you’re walking, riding a bus or otherwise in the wild.

  2. ncm says:

    You’re probably right – if you’re outdoors with an iPod even good headphones won’t make much of a difference. What will even outdoors, on the subway or on a plane are good ear canal earphones which due to their configuration practically eliminate external noise while providing superb music quality. I use Etymotics R4s with iPod Classic/Touch and another Etymotics model with mic (hf3) for iPhone use.

    With these little gems I prefer to stick to a higher quality rip.

  3. Lisa says:

    Kirk, I’ve noticed a bug when I use the “convert higher bit rate” feature in iTunes. During the conversion, album art for any music that I have downloaded from the iTunes store does not get transferred to my iPod. It’s there in my iTunes library but MIA on the iPod. Are you aware of any fix for this?

    • kirk says:

      No, I haven’t. When you get album art from the iTunes Store, the art is not embedded in your files. What I do for mine is open a file, select the art and copy it. Then I select all the files, get info, and paste the art into the Artwork well. That embeds it in the files.

      • Lisa says:

        No luck for me. After applying your tip to the files in iTunes, after a restore to my iPod and reload, the album artwork is still missing (on the iPod) for ANY song that was converted, not just those songs downloaded from iTunes. :-(


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