How to burn a CD in iTunes | iLounge Article


How to burn a CD in iTunes

iTunes is great for playing your tunes on the computer, and the iPod is the undisputed champion of playing personal on-the-go music.  However, none of us can fully escape the need for “old-fashioned” CDs every once and awhile—we use them to listen through other devices, share with friends, and backup our music collections.  iTunes can help.


To get started, you first need to select the type of CD you would like to burn.  Go to iTunes preferences and select the burning tab. 


Choose your burning format according to your purpose as shown below:


The following is further detail about the three burning options:

  1. Audio CD:  This is your standard CD.  Its main advantage is that audio data is written in a format that is readable by virtually any audio CD player.  As one can expect, however, you can only fit 74 minutes of audio using this option.
  2. MP3 CD:  This option burns a playlist to a CD, copying the files as MP3 files, rather than audio tracks.  If there are any AAC or Protected AAC files in the specified playlist, they will not be included on the CD.  This is advantageous for burning CDs for use in MP3-capable portable CD players or MP3-capable car stereo CD players, because these devices do not presently support AAC.
  3. Data CD or DVD:  In a data CD or DVD, *all* songs in a playlist, regardless of file type, are burned.  This option is the best to choose for a backup for two reasons.  First, all of your songs - including AAC and iTunes Music Store Protected AAC files - will be backed up.  Second, the “Data” option allows you to burn to a DVD-R disc, which holds approximately 5 times as much data per disc (DVD burner or Superdrive required).

Once you have selected a format, click “OK” to return to the main iTunes window. 


iTunes creates CDs from playlists.  In previous iPod 101 segments, we learned to create both Manual and Smart playlists.  Either type will work for burning CDs. 

For Audio CDs, you will most likely want to keep an eye on how large the playlist is in order to ensure that it will fit on one 74-minute CD-R disc.  If you wish to burn more than one CD-worth of songs (for example, for a full-library backup) you can still use a playlist larger than the CD-R or DVD-R’s capacity, as iTunes will ask you if you would like to automatically span your playlist across several discs.

Begin by highlighting a playlist in the source column that you wish to burn.  A covered “Burn” button will appear in the top right corner of the iTunes window.


Press the burn button, and the “Safety Cover” opens as iTunes prompts you to insert a blank disc.  Your CD tray will open.



Insert a blank disc.  iTunes will check the disc that you have inserted, and prompt you to confirm your intent to burn by clicking the “Burn” button once more. iTunes will now begin the burn.



When the burn is complete, you will see a CD icon appear in your “Source” column with the same name as the playlist from which it was created.  Congratulations!  Your CD is complete.  Press the “Eject” button in the bottom-right corner of your screen to eject your CD.





Notes and Tips:

  1. Use smart playlists to facilitate a “rolling” backup of your library.  First burn your entire existing library.  For the future, create a smart playlist where “Date Added is after [The date of your backup].”  Each time you burn this incremental backup, change the date in the smart playlist to reflect the current date.  You can also add a criteria where “Date Modified is after [date of last backup]” as well, to ensure that audio files that have *changed* are also preserved.
  2. It is a good idea, even if you don’t feel like backing up all of your music, to back up your “Purchased Music” playlist regularly, as iTunes Music Store tracks cannot be re-downloaded if you were to lose them.  The “Purchased Music” playlist is just like any other, so you can easily select it and click the burn icon to burn a backup (use “Data” mode, of course).
  3. If you wish to reproduce an album that does not have gaps of silence in between tracks (i.e. Pink Floyd’s The Wall), iTunes can do so.  In the main burning preference window, select Audio CD, and change the “Gap between Songs” setting to “None.”
  4. Share your own in the comments below!

Have fun burning CDs!! 

Stay tuned for further iPod 101 iTunes Tutorials!

Jerrod H. is a Forum Administrator and Contributing Editor for iLounge.

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If only it were that simple.  A huge number of Windows users have never been able to burn a cd with iTunes.  And Apple has yet to address the issue.

Check out this thread in the Apple discussion forums for more info.

Posted by Jake in TX on January 29, 2004 at 11:19 AM (CST)


Your article on how to burn with iTunes was great and had no problems burning with it after reading it. The problem I encountered was getting a slight gap between songs. Not a 2 second or even 1 second gap, but like a little glitch between tracks. I have my files saved at 128kbps in AAC.
I thought at first it just maybe iTunes that has the tiniest of gaps between tracks, but when I burn the tracks under Nero, my other burning sofware, there is the smallest of glitches between tracks as well. I have burned other CDs using Nero and all the tracks seem to flow as it were one big track, but not when importing songs from iTunes.
Also when I play my iPod there is the smallest little gaps between songs. Is there anyway to get rid of this as well? I listen to a lot of live shows so when there are gaps it gets really annoying.
Just a note: I have imported all of my songs onto my iPod using iTunes. Is there something about iTunes that has a problem flowing tracks seemlessly together?And if so is Apple in the works to fix it? Is it just AAC that does this? A certain AAC speed? Am I doing something wrong? Sorry for all the questions just want to be able to fix it.


Posted by Brian in TX on January 31, 2004 at 2:05 PM (CST)


I believe that *tiny* gaps in MP3/AAC is an unavoidable consequence of the encoding process.  Check out this link for further explanation:

BTW, the following won’t help when listening on the iPod or on burned CDs, but when listening in iTunes, you can turn on “Crossfading.”

If the gaps are more important to you than the ability to select a certain track, then when you import, select “Join Tracks” to rip the entire album to one continuous track.  That’s about all you can do for now.

-Jerrod Hofferth

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on February 1, 2004 at 3:11 PM (CST)


I just burned my first CD from iTunes.  I was successful, however, when the Cd was burned it put all of the songs in random order.

How can I get the playlist to burn the CD EXACTLY in the order the songs are listed?

I would really appreciate some help on this, tried numbering tracks etc and nothing seemed to work.  I never had this problem with MusicMatch.

Posted by Suzi Hellwege in TX on February 6, 2004 at 11:47 AM (CST)


Make sure that while you are arranging your playlist, the SHUFFLE button is OFF.  (Bottom right of the window).

Then arrange your songs properly, and burn the CD with SHUFFLE OFF still.

Hope that helps.

-Jerrod Hofferth

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on February 7, 2004 at 11:08 AM (CST)


I found this very interesting, hope it is helpful….html

a way to, among other things, keep itues always on top

Posted by jperacha in TX on February 9, 2004 at 7:57 AM (CST)


I am having a frustrating time with Itunes! It is being very unpredicatble in the way it burns cds as it often aborts the burn by displaying “cancelling cd burn” and stopping before it has completed! any ideas?

Posted by Amerjote Bansal in TX on February 9, 2004 at 4:14 PM (CST)


Since moving to the latest itunes v4.2 (wth AAC) encoding I have been unable to get my Irock Ibling to recognise MP3 CDs made from iTunes.  I have tried everything - altering the preferences, burning from the Finder etc. The genius bar Apple people suggested I bring my entire system to their store or try Toast.  Even the Ibling people could not help.  Has any had a similar problem.  Can anyone help ?  If you need more info about my problem, let me know

Posted by Asgar Ali in TX on February 9, 2004 at 7:37 PM (CST)


Asgar Ali—

The explanation of your problem is simple:

The iRock BLiNG CD/MP3 Player (and all CD/MP3 players that I’m aware of) does not support AAC encoding.  You will need to import to MP3 in order for the files to be readable by your CD/MP3 Player.

Alternatively, if you can convert your entire iTunes library back to MP3 from within iTunes by doing the following:

1)  In Preferences, change your Import settings to MP3.

2)  In the Library, select any songs you’d like converted.

3)  Right Click (Or CTRL-Click on a Mac) and select “Convert Selection to MP3.”

Posted by azdude_15gb in TX on February 10, 2004 at 3:13 PM (CST)


Nice article, thanks!

Quick, possibly stupid question: I have everything in iTunes in AAC.  If I burn a playlist to “Audio CD,” will standard CD players be able to read it?

Posted by Bill S in TX on February 11, 2004 at 2:35 PM (CST)


My car stereo plays MP3’s from data discs, and browses by folders as well as files— If I want to burn multiple folders [or playlists] of MP3’s using the iTunes burner, how can i distinguish them???

Posted by Ian Anderson in TX on February 12, 2004 at 5:17 PM (CST)





That I’m not sure about.  The way iTunes has burning set up, you burn *a playlist*.  Therefore, iTunes won’t really burn playlists-within-playlists, per say.

Besides, MP3 players will typically use “M3U” format playlists, which iTunes does not utilize at all. 

Sorry… Better for you to use Nero or a similar program, for that purpose.  :-D

Posted by Jerrod H. in TX on February 12, 2004 at 9:18 PM (CST)


Can you put an album directly onto an iPod from a CD?

Posted by michael meagher in TX on February 14, 2004 at 10:26 PM (CST)



Posted by john 2 in TX on February 15, 2004 at 8:32 PM (CST)


What is the best way to transfer cassettes into iTunes?
Any information is appreciated!

Posted by Evie in TX on February 16, 2004 at 2:58 AM (CST)


Michael—No.  You need to first import the CD and then transfer it using either Manual or AutoSync modes.  If you choose Manual Sync mode, you can choose to delete the CD from your computer after it is transferred to your iPod.


You’ll need to record the audio from the cassettes into your computer—in real time using a Line Out—> Line In connection.  There is software available that can do this… the simplest method on Windows is likely to buy Windows XP Plus! Digital Media Edition, which comes with tools to help you out.

Posted by azdude_15gb in TX on February 16, 2004 at 11:13 AM (CST)


When I try to burn a disk (using W2K) to my external CDRW, I get the prompt to insert blank media. Even when I use new blank media, iTunes never recognizes it and ejects.

The drive I use (Philips) is recognized by iTunes and I can use it to upload to program.

Any ideas?

Posted by robert in TX on February 17, 2004 at 12:03 PM (CST)


Eat Beef, Ipod people!

Posted by Paad Abdul in TX on February 17, 2004 at 9:23 PM (CST)


I’ve used 3 different blank CD brands in attempts to burn CD’s from Itunes, and each time the first song plays, and the rest ‘skip’.  On another brand of disk it didn’t.  Is this an Itunes/blank CD compatibility problem or can I change the burn settings so it burns on ALL CD’S?  I know the easy answer is used the CD’s that work, but I have 3 spools of 100 blank CD’s I paid for and can’t use with Itunes.  Any advice?

Posted by Marc in TX on February 18, 2004 at 2:15 PM (CST)


I am searching for a tool printing a CD Cover after burning a playlist. The Itunes export gives me a lot of useless information and i have to work about 15 minutes for every playlist cover.

Any Ideas?

I am used to the NERO CD cover designer which works simple and good.

Posted by Jakob in TX on February 20, 2004 at 6:32 AM (CST)

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