Windows Media Audio (WMA) files use a proprietary format developed by Microsoft and used by media players built into Windows, like the Windows Media Player. Many other, better, players don’t support WMA files, but they’re easy enough to convert to something different.
Because of the proprietary nature of the WMA format, there’s not much reason not to convert them into a more widely used format—like MP3. Even if you use Windows Media Player, it can still play MP3 files. And having your files in MP3 means that you’ve got a lot more options for playing them, including different apps and platforms.
VLC is a free and open source media player that opens almost any file format and has an option for converting your audio files. It’s one of our favorites here at How-to Geek because not only is it free, it’s cross-platform (Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS) and very capable.
After installing VLC, open it up, click the “Media” menu, and then click the “Convert/Save” command.
Click the “Add” button to start loading files you want to convert.
Find and select the file or files you want to open and then click the “Open” button.
Click “Convert/Save” to open up the next window.
In the “Profile” drop-down list, choose “MP3” and then click the “Browse” button to select the folder to which you want to save the converted files.
After you’ve selected a folder to save the file, use the “Save As Type” drop-down to choose the MP3 option and then click “Save.”
If you want to have a little more control over the encoding that happens during the conversion, click the wrench button.
This brings up another menu with a couple more advanced options for you to tinker with. The “Audio Codec” tab, for example, lets you change things like bitrate, channels, and sample rate.
Finally, click “Start” to begin the conversion process.
Depending on the bitrate you chose and the size of the files, it could take some time for the conversion to finish. When it’s done, you’ll find your new MP3 files in the output folder you chose.
There are numerous websites out there that let you convert your files for free, but our favorite is Zamzar. You can convert up to 10 files at a time, and they don’t keep any of your files on their servers longer than 24 hours.
After firing up Zamzar’s website, click the “Choose Files” button and navigate to the files you want to convert. You can also drag and drop the files into your browser window to upload them to the site.
Next, from the drop-down menu, select “MP3” as the output file type.
Finally, enter a valid email address and click the “Convert” button.
After the conversion is complete (which doesn’t take too long, unless you’re converting a lot of large files) you’ll receive an email with your files ready to download.