Best Settings for Importing CD Audiobooks Into iTunes

by Michael on October 25, 2009 · 3 comments

We’re huge fans of importing CD audiobooks into iTunes. From there, we either listen to them on an iPod/iPhone or burn CDs for listening in the car. Today, I thought I’d share my preferred settings for importing audiobook CDs to iTunes.

Importing audiobooks into iTunes

Here’s a quick overview of how to configure the import preferences for optimal results:

  • Open the iTunes preferences
  • Under the “General” tab, click the “Import Settings…” button
  • Select “Import Using: AAC Encoder
  • Select “Setting: Custom
  • Select “Stereo Bit Rate: 64 kbps
  • Select “Sample Rate: 44.100 kHz
  • Select “Sample Rate: 44.100 kHz
  • Select “Channels: Stereo
  • Click the checkbox for “Optimize for voice

While you could probably get away with a lower bit rate, I’ve found the quality at this level to be great, and

Convert your files to .m4b

Once you’ve imported your audiobook, you need to convert your AAC files from .m4a to .m4b format. This has two effects: it makes iTunes treat them as audiobooks, and it makes them “bookmarkable,” such that they resume playing from wherever you last stopped them.

While the idea of changing the file format might sound daunting, there’s actually a simple AppleScript that will do the job for you. Simply download the “Make Bookmarkable” script and you’re good to go.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Blaine Moore October 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

Is there any advantage to using that script above just setting the media type property to “Audiobook” and the remember position property to “Yes” after you’ve imported your CD?

That’s all I’ve been doing and it’s been working fine.


Alderete October 26, 2009 at 2:34 pm

@Blaine: You’re exactly right, starting with iTunes 8, it’s easier and better to simply change the Media Kind to Audiobook, rather than changing the file extension. Details including screen shots here:


Michael October 27, 2009 at 8:02 am

@Blaine: I’ll have to check that out. My use of the AppleScript goes back several years, so it’s quite possible that it’s no longer technically necessary. Thanks!

@Alderete: Thanks for stopping by and weighing in.


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