How to Extract Just the Audio From an MP4 Video File

Using nothing but Open Source (free) software, this tutorial will show you how to copy (extract) just the audio from an .MP4 video file. That way you can listen to it on your computer, smartphone, iPod etc, or burn it to an audio CD.

MP4 files are one of the most common format for video recording devices (the GoPro is a good example). There may come a time (or lots of times) when you want to listen to the file but not necessarily watch it. These steps will show you how to create a separate “audio only” file.

Note: while the the steps and images in this guide are from a Mac users perspective, nearly everything is identical for Windows users. Not only is the software available for OS X and Windows (and Linux!) – it looks the same no matter which you’re using.

Let’s jump right in!

  1. If you don’t have the wonderful audio software Audacity already installed, head over to the Audacity download page (link opens in a new tab/window). Download the version for your Operating System (Windows, OS X, Linux)

    Now select File and then Open…

  2. audacity file menu

  3. Navigate to the MP4 video file that you want to copy the audio from. Select the file by clicking on it once, and then click the Open button. It may take a bit to open the file – the larger the MP4 file, the longer it will take to open.
  4. the audacity open file dialogue window
    click to enlarge

  5. NOTE: at this point you may get an error message. If you do, fear not, the solution is simple. Just follow the steps outlined in this brief guide (opens in a new browser tab/window) to add “MP3 support” to Audacity. Then repeat the first two steps and you won’t ever have that problem again).

    A new Audacity ‘window’ will appear, displaying all of the audio information from that MP4 file.

  6. main audacity window with a file open
    click to enlarge

  7. With that window open, select File and then Export…
  8. the export option from the audacity file menu

  9. From here you can choose the format you want to save the audio as. If you’re going to burn it directly to CD, select .wav so that you get the highest possible audio quality. Otherwise you can select MP3.
  10. the format options for saving a file in audacity

  11. Now click the Save button.
  12. the audacity save button

  13. Enter the song metadata if appropriate, then click the OK button.
  14. metadata window in audacity
    click to enlarge

  15. Now the audio will be extracted and saved.
  16. audio being extracted from an mp4 file in audacity

  17. When finished, go and check the audio file to make sure everything worked – and then you’re done!
  18. a wav file exported from audacity

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Jubilee Grace May 10, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Thank you for helping me! I actually got the error when trying to open the mp4 file. In newer editions of the LAME file, the FFmpeg portion has been separated. Users will need to download that as well to get Audacity to open the mp4 file.It’s on the same DL page as the basic LAME file, so users shouldn’t have any problems finding it. I’m really happy that I found your tutorial and had to take time to say Thank You! God Bless!

  • Ross McKillop May 10, 2017, 5:37 pm

    Thanks for the feedback!!! I’ll update this guide accordingly re: FFmpeg – thank you so much for the info :)

  • Gary R Lennox September 27, 2017, 5:22 am

    Awesome! Extremely helpful! Thanks a lot! I always use Acethinker Video Converter to extract audio from MP4 MTV as MP3 song for my iPod touch, It is a free online tool that lets you convert video/audio right from the browser. Share it here as an alternative to Audacity.

  • Hovengo June 15, 2018, 1:20 am

    I wonder if the converted WAV files are lossless or not. The original MP4 video is compressed so will the audio quality be improved if I convert it to WAV audioļ¼Ÿ I used hd video converter factory to do the conversion before but it doesn’t suggest to convert MP4 to WAV but MP3.

  • Elvijs Jakovlevs July 1, 2018, 9:37 am

    For me it still shows error when I have mp3 plugin when trying to export video.

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