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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Well i followed every step but each time I do it; I keep getting ERROR CODE [2131]. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

Posted by Candy H. on March 16, 2009 at 12:39 PM (CDT)


My iTunes preferences doesn’t seem to show a “Burning” tab..
Help? :)

Posted by Jessica on April 8, 2009 at 5:57 PM (CDT)


This is an older article…  iTunes 8 got rid of the “Burning” tab in your preferences….  It now prompts you for your burning settings each time you try and burn a CD.

So in other words, just set up your playlist, hit the “Burn CD” button, and you’ll be prompted with the same options that used to appear in the burning tab.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on April 8, 2009 at 8:45 PM (CDT)


I burn disks from iTunes to Phillips CD-R 52X disks. I can easily buy music,creat playlists, and burn them…HOWEVER, about half the time there are two or three songs in the middle of the disk that will not play in my car. Those three songs skip or will not play at all, but the songs in the beginning and at the end of the disk play fine. Solutions anyone? Solutions? Beuller?

Posted by Cody on April 23, 2009 at 11:05 PM (CDT)


I jus got my truck and i want to make an CD for my MP3 player with the songs straight from my ipod. When i try to drag the songs to a folder where i can burn a CD, it wont let me drag them. Where do I drag them to make a CD?

Posted by seank on April 27, 2009 at 1:59 PM (CDT)


what kind of burnning CD for the song to work in a truck CD player

Posted by trailer on May 1, 2009 at 6:15 PM (CDT)


Everyone is having the same problem! It wont play im my car, or cd player! I need the info back ASAP! I need it for my dance class!

Posted by Julie 101 on May 3, 2009 at 6:47 PM (CDT)


Well, when I click on ‘prefrences’ there is no ‘Burn’ tab. :| I dunno what to do.

Posted by Lexy on May 10, 2009 at 9:21 PM (CDT)


Itunes 7 upgrade will not allow any of the above explained functions 2 occurr…Either error 4900 or 4251 pop up & immediately eject the CD & cancels the CD burn process..Does anyone know how 2 get around this? Otherwise, those of us who downloaded the upgrade are stuck with a very limited and fradulent service..There was no initial disclosure that indicated if an upgrade is made to ITunes 7 would it disable the ability to burn CDs on ones personal computer..Please update your website and provide correct information, because the function you describe is no longer part of an option

Posted by misanthropic94 on May 25, 2009 at 6:01 PM (CDT)


I can create playlists, but cannot burn them.  I receive an error message “4900” and then the burning process stops.  How do I fix this problem?

Posted by Lisa on June 8, 2009 at 2:32 PM (CDT)


Has anyone found a solution to the “disc recording not found” error?

Posted by mik on June 21, 2009 at 9:24 PM (CDT)


We are getting he ERROR 4900 when burning CDs.  How do I get around this?  We select playlist….hit the burn button….it begins…then says..
Burn cancelled…this may take a few minutes?  Any advice?

Posted by David on July 16, 2009 at 9:04 PM (CDT)


Ok…seems like I’m not the only one with this problem, and I’D REALLY LIKE TO KNOW WHEN APPLE IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT !!!!!  I’ve talked to Apple support several times, and no help.  I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled 10 freaking times!  THE PROBLEM: CDs won’t burn right anymore.  I’ve used i-tunes with no problem at all for the last 5 years, same ipod nano.  Right after I downloaded the latest version of i-tunes, coincidentally, at roughly the same time I downloaded Windows Internet Explorer 8, I ceased to be able to burn a CD correctly.  It will burn maybe the first 3 songs, and then every track after that will just be a 5 second loop repeat of the first track. THEN I can’t x out of i-tunes, eject a cd, or anything.  I have to reboot the whole computer !!!  WTF????  And apparently, nobody at Apple can help !!!  I’m losing my mind !!!!  I NEED TO BE ABLE TO BURN CDS !!!!  STEVE JOBS, WAKE UP AND DO SOMETHING BEFORE I BOYCOTT APPLE PRODUCTS FOREVER !!!!!

Posted by Michelle Morgan on August 18, 2009 at 12:07 AM (CDT)


and btw, the latest version of i-tunes that i downloaded is version 8

Posted by Michelle Morgan on August 18, 2009 at 12:10 AM (CDT)


I just used itunes to burn a cd I put together…

When I use my Mac to listen to the CD everything works fine. However, if I use any other cd player (car, pc, etc.) the audio will not play. Any idea why?

Posted by Amanda on August 22, 2009 at 4:20 PM (CDT)


How do I get the song title and artist to show up on a burned CD?  I am doing a back up but when I use the CD download in itunes it comes up as track numbers only. I have burned in audio CD mode. Thank you.

Posted by Penny on September 16, 2009 at 2:24 PM (CDT)


okay, i’ve tried burning a CD on itunes and i have been unsuccessful so far. i’ve tried mp3, audio, and even data and still nothing. i also tried burning a cd on windows media player to see if it made a difference and still nothing. can someone please help me!???

Posted by Ileana on September 18, 2009 at 12:23 PM (CDT)


The Burn Disc button doesn’t even appear when I highlight the playlist. Id did the Preferences,I’m just stuck at this step. I went to file to burn it from there and that didn’t work either. My version of itunes isn’t new. I think I installed it in 06 or 07. Can someone tell me what to do please?

Posted by Indian Girl on September 20, 2009 at 1:54 PM (CDT)


hey guys, I have huge- problem. Frustrating big time. I purchased over 200 songs from Itune store. And I enjoyed them through my Ipod. But, whenever I try to burn into CDr, it keep saying “Attempt to burn CD failed due to what ever laser level is not right” I don’t know what this means, and I wonder if music purchased from Itune is not good for CD burning… anyone got any idea??

Posted by sterlingq on September 25, 2009 at 3:45 AM (CDT)


I want to do this but it says’No burner” and now the “burn cd ” tab has disappeared. Can you help?

Thanks, Selene

Posted by Selene on September 28, 2009 at 1:47 PM (CDT)


Just bought a new cd. Tried to import it goes through the process but show unavailable on the library. Tried an old cd I had and the same thing happened. No songs play but shows imported. What is going on?

Posted by Lori Call on November 3, 2009 at 8:03 AM (CST)


ok thanks now we know how to get song onto a cd but how do we get the song off of a cd

Posted by jake keller on November 3, 2009 at 4:58 PM (CST)


Yes I’m having problems burning Cd’s now with Itunes.  I get Disc burn or software not found.  I have been searching forums and alot of them are saying go to “edit, then perfences and burn tab”  I have have them opitions there is NO burn tab.

Posted by Lori Dishman on November 14, 2009 at 8:34 AM (CST)


Is there any way of including CD Text (CD Title, Artist Title, song names) when burning from iTunes?
I am loading some of my music onto another computer and the text only seems to be missing off of music that was purchased through iTunes.

Considering all the disc info is in iTunes already I presume it’s possible but I can’t work out how.
Help would be appreciated.

I see I am not the only one with this problem. I am running an Apple Computer with Snow Leopard

Posted by Ron Mauro on November 25, 2009 at 6:00 PM (CST)


I have a question-
I have burned a cd using itunes, it works in the computer, but not in my car or other cd players.
Is there something I can do to change that?

Posted by Justine on December 4, 2009 at 12:23 PM (CST)


Referring to post # 68 and the error msg 2131 ou said you updated drivers….how do you do that?

Posted by LeeAnne on December 13, 2009 at 11:36 AM (CST)


I’ve been trying to transfer my ipod music collection from my ipod classic to a ipod touch. The simple way would be to drag and drop but itunes won’t let me do this.
I’ve tried burning my collection to a cd but have now realised that I don’t have a burn facility in my itunes. Anyone any ideas please?

Posted by Tez on December 15, 2009 at 6:24 PM (CST)


I wonder if anyone answers all theses questions?

Heres mine - i burn mp3’s from itunes playlist to CD, over 9 hrs worth on 1 cd, in specific order. When completed cd is put in same or different itunes / windows media player, it reverts back to a sort by artist. A simple click of the box next to “name” corrects it, but for those getting a present, inputws the cd a hits play, its in wrong order, the itunes default of artist. Anyone experience this…

Posted by Joe on December 15, 2009 at 10:09 PM (CST)


thanks for the help i am soooo greatful i needed to get my friend a christmas present and didnt have any money.

Posted by Ashley on December 26, 2009 at 9:19 PM (CST)


Whenever I try to burn a CD on Itunes it wil start the process than just stop and cancelthe burn, then I get a message saying it’s an unknown error (4900) any insight that anyone could offer would e great

Posted by Brendon on December 28, 2009 at 11:38 AM (CST)


recently, the cd’s i’m burning play back on my stereo with an annoying crackle which makes listening to the cd pointless.i didn’t have a problem before using all the same equipment and brand of disc.

Posted by zoe bee on January 17, 2010 at 5:31 PM (CST)


I keep trying to burn a cd from itunes, but after it starts writing the first song it starts cancelling disk burn.  An error messag pops up that says “The attempt to burn a disc failed.  An unknown error occured(4450).  How do I fix this?

Posted by Kim on January 17, 2010 at 7:58 PM (CST)


i have your answer (for the ones who buy itunes and cant burn the songs into a cd) : BUY THE MUSIC FROM AMAZON.COM, they dont have the songs backed by ACC or are not restricted to burning like itunes is.

Posted by marlin on January 21, 2010 at 4:01 AM (CST)


My car CD player was showing “CD error” when I played an iTunes burned audio cd.  I was able to find out that I need to lower “Preferred Speed” in order to get it to play.  I lowered it to 16x and it worked, but the text no longer appeared.  Does the feature only work at “maximum speed?”  And what does the “preferred speed” option refer to anyways?

Posted by Adam on January 21, 2010 at 2:27 PM (CST)


Hi, I’m trying to burn a cd on itunes, and for some reason, every time I insert the blank cd and click “burn CD”, the message of “disk burner or software not found”. I double checked that my computer has the ability to burn CDs, have burned many CDs from itunes before, so why am I having this problem now?

Posted by Just Train on January 25, 2010 at 3:46 AM (CST)


Not sure why, but recently every CD I’ve burned using iTunes has come out unplayable in my car: they are Audio cds (for sure) and they can play on my computer as well as other computers but not on the player in the car - the first song is extremely staticky and then the others just don’t read ... zero sound.  Everything’s been fine for the past year, I’ve been using the same CDs (memorex CD-R 52X / 700 MB) and even the same songs (i.e., the same song that recorded and plays just find a week or 2 weeks ago, now no longer burns ... What could be the general problem (i.e., software or hardware?)and more specifically who do I have to see / what do I have to do to resolve this

Thanks so much, I’m totally at a loss here ...

Posted by Alex on February 9, 2010 at 5:42 PM (CST)


I am having issues inputing music into my imac
the tracks are very short 45 sec to a few min.
The next track starts before the first one is finished,which fades away.  I need to have the complete track on it.
thanks for the help….

Posted by ken on February 11, 2010 at 1:14 AM (CST)


I purchased some music the other day from itunes store but when I was playing my ipod nano the new songs were not on there.  When I go to itunes and click on store/purchased it shows that I purchased 84 songs but when I click on devices/purchases it only shows 52 songs.  How do I get my songs to show up so I can synch them?  This was working fine until this last time.

Posted by jaxki on February 11, 2010 at 5:25 PM (CST)


I am new to the ipod scene. I got it specifically to download audio books from the library. Have tried everything I could think of to no avail.  Any ideas?  As long as I have one I may as well put music on as well.  I am going to try thdirections on this page.  I look forward to learning new things.—mary

Posted by Mary Reilly on February 12, 2010 at 7:40 AM (CST)


This was simple, but for some reason, when I go to PREFRENCES, I don’t have the BURNING TAB. I checked 3 times already. Anyway, thanks. Maybe it’s just my computer!!

Posted by Marie on February 28, 2010 at 12:44 AM (CST)


To the people getting errors 4900 or 4251, my dads computer was getting these upon trying to burn cds. I made sure norton antivirus and his firewall were turned off, set the burn settings to the slowest speed, audio cd, no gap in between songs and it fixed the problem, stupid norton.

Posted by joe on March 12, 2010 at 4:24 PM (CST)


I looked at the preference tab but there’s no burning option on my computer. I use windows and I heard there was a problem with it burning CDs. But, apart from that it seems like a good tutorial.

Posted by Rachel on April 16, 2010 at 10:06 PM (CDT)


Is there a way to burn a cd of a song and drop the first 15 seconds of it (on purpose!) I need to burn a song onto cd for my daughter’s talent show. The kids are doing a dance to Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” and it’s too long. I have other media players on my computer, but I can’t figure this out looking at their options.
Thanks for your help!

Posted by Cathy on April 28, 2010 at 12:44 PM (CDT)


sometimes I’m successful in burning a CD, sometimes only some of the songs burn. Lately, the burn process starts then freezes early in the process. I have a separate hard drive devoted ONLY to i tunes in an attempt to avoid any bugs. I can’t figure out this problem.

Posted by barb on May 1, 2010 at 6:59 PM (CDT)


Hi:  I thought I could keep some songs in my iTunes library but not on my iPod.  Not all of my unchecked songs are staying off my iPod.

Posted by Ellen on June 1, 2010 at 8:57 PM (CDT)


helped so much work’s much better this way. i am never on the computer so i don’t know much but this was so easy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
thank u thank u than u thank u

        thanks so much!!!!!

Posted by emma on July 8, 2010 at 11:29 AM (CDT)


i tryed it but it says tat theres no cd in there but i put it and it wont work :(

Posted by jazmin on July 23, 2010 at 4:40 AM (CDT)


I have a few burned cds that i want to add to my music collection. When I put the cd into my computer, itunes pops up and i hit import cd. All songs will import into my library page, but say “not available” and won’t play. Is there anything i can do to change this??

Posted by kayrn25 on August 1, 2010 at 10:28 PM (CDT)


i want to burn 42 songs off itunes on to 1 or 2 cds preferably on 1 cd/cdr/cdrw.

Posted by jes on August 16, 2010 at 10:52 AM (CDT)


i updated itunes 10 and was not having any prolems burning cd’s until now i can’t burn any cd’s at all.what’s going oh?

Posted by james on September 12, 2010 at 6:47 PM (CDT)


I figured out how to start burning the disc. If you create a playlist, let’s say it’s called “burning disc”. Drag the music you’d like to that playlist, then once you’re done, insert the disc. If it’s not coming up with the icon, go to your playlist and click on the words “burning disc” where it should be under the whole playlist section. Right click the words, and it should have a list that one of the items you can click, will say “burn playlist to disc”. Ta-da! It worked for me. :]

Posted by Emily on October 6, 2010 at 3:51 AM (CDT)


okay so i got a blank C.D. and i burnt some music from my brothers computer cause we have diff. ipods and it is saying i need a file in order to get songs synced to my ipod? i dont get what it means its taking 2 days now to figure this out.

any help would be great…

Posted by kielee on November 13, 2010 at 4:11 PM (CST)


I am a Mac user. I tried to burn some CDs this weekend from Itunes and haven’t had much luck,  it seems like nothing is actually making it on to the disk. It goes through the process but I have a blank disk! HELP.

Posted by Lily Fisher on November 20, 2010 at 5:40 PM (CST)


Stupid iTunes workaround: ver 10.1 on the Mac appears to sort by artist name when burning to CD.  Why? Who knows. Putting a number after the artist name got things in the right order for me. Note, for Windows you may have issues for numbers >10.  10 may sort after 1, not 9.  You may have to go to 9, then 9a, 9b, etc.

Posted by Antony on November 29, 2010 at 12:13 AM (CST)


I’m trying to figure out the simplest way to backup my iTunes library that I’ve been working on for about 3 years. I am thinking of doing the DVD thing. BUT I need to know if after burning my entire library, the disk itself will have all the information from the songs (i.e. Album name, Artist name, Song name, Album cover) I really need to get figure out a way to transfer the entire information please help.

Posted by Sam Trevino on December 14, 2010 at 6:21 AM (CST)


Every time I burn an MP3 disc using iTunes, it automatically puts the song into separate folders by album or artist. I would like to have a MP3 cd that is one folder containing all the 100+ songs.  Also, I would like to have it ordered the way I want, not alphabetically like it seems to always do.  I’ve tried ordering my playlists by song name, etc.  But It seems to always order my cd alphabetically.  Is there a way I can make my own track order, and in one large folder?

Posted by TJ Banker on April 5, 2011 at 2:25 PM (CDT)


Help! On my iTunes…under Edit and then Preferences…there is no “Burning” Tab. My operating system is Windows 7 and iTunes 10.1.0…suggestions?

Posted by Lizzie on May 18, 2011 at 7:54 PM (CDT)


Cool. Nice to find this ancient info. However, the latest version of iTunes is apparently incapable of burning a CD. In fact, it isn’t much good for anything that I can see. That would be why these types of sites have not been updated since Christ was a child.

Posted by MacNut on May 23, 2011 at 2:18 AM (CDT)


Hi Jerrod
I note that your replies date only to 2009 so you may not still be working in the same Dept but if you are I am writing to thank you for your very clear instructions re burning a downloaded song to a cd. As am not very familiar as yet to all the computer jargon etc, have poured over (for many frustrating hours) lots of the help???? solutions found on the internet, but after finding yours, I am so delighted and blessed to have been able to follow your clear instructions, in a way that I can understand and am now able to listen to my new burned cd. Hallelujah!
Thank you

Posted by Mary Nichols on July 14, 2011 at 12:12 AM (CDT)


How can you see the progress made on burning the disc. In other words how much longer time frame to go until done?

Posted by Teresa on August 19, 2011 at 12:49 PM (CDT)


It seems I am having the same problem. I am also trying to burn music onto cd’s and everytime it cancels it and the 4251 error comes up each time. I know it’s not my laptop. What the hell is going on iTunes??

Posted by Tara Monroe on October 26, 2011 at 7:40 PM (CDT)


Thank you for your time I find that your tips on how to operate the i-tunes system is quite expainatory. I have i-tunes as stated was able to record my playlists after setting them up. Though on completing my previous playlist I attempted to burn to another disc but the window came up with Burner program cant be found?? Has always worked up till now ...pray what do you think the problem is?????  Also can I number my songs on the playlist and if i wish to delete an individual song can I without deleting the whole playlist????? thanx keith

Posted by Keith Stokes on January 31, 2012 at 9:50 PM (CST)


I don’t get the menu you display.  I see general playback sharing,..... etc.

nothing that lets me “burn”  I suspect I’m launching the wrong ap or finding a newer version under edit/properties.

any thoughts?


Posted by dennis carroll on February 4, 2012 at 6:05 PM (CST)


I burned a cd without any time in between songs, the first 17 songs play fine then the next 7 songs skip alot?

Posted by Mary on February 17, 2012 at 10:26 PM (CST)


This was very helpful inregards to converting an ACC audio file to MP3 to transfer to a slideshow. Thanks

Posted by G. Thompson on May 7, 2012 at 1:18 PM (CDT)

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