How to Convert Cassette Tapes to MP3s for Free on a Mac

My wife recently was deep cleaning and ran across a few tape cassettes that she remembered she really liked and asked if I could convert or digitize the tapes to MP3s for use in iTunes and on her iPhone. I figured it wasn’t a big deal so I told her I could before I thought through the process (that’s fairly typical for me). In any case, converting tapes to MP3s using a Mac ended up being simple enough. After the jump, you can read my step-by-step how-to on converting cassette tapes to MP3 on a Mac.

The first, and perhaps the hardest step is to setup the physical connections actually connecting a tape player to the Mac.

iMac ports

You’ll need any tape player with a headphone jack out and an 1/8″ stereo to 1/8″ stereo cable. You just need to plug one end of the 1/8″ stereo cable into the headphone jack of the tape player and the other end of the 1/8″ stereo jack to the Audio In port on the iMac.

In my case, I wanted to monitor through a pair of headphones and not through the iMac speakers so I plugged a headphone splitter into the tape player where one side was plugged into the iMac’s In Line jack and the other into the headphones.

Sony Walkman used to convert cassette tape to MP3

3 thoughts on “How to Convert Cassette Tapes to MP3s for Free on a Mac”

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  2. You don’t actually need a tape deck with 1/8″ out. Most of those are walkmans with really poor sound quality. If you want to hook up to your stereo deck for better sound you should get some adapters from Radioshack or Amazon. Get 2 RCA male (the red and white stereo connectors) to 1/4″ TRS (large, mono headphone jack type) connectors. Then the corresponding female 1/4″ TRS to stereo 1/8″ headphone type jack. You’ll get much better sound from your stereo deck (assuming the tape is decent and you clean and demag your deck) than you ever will from a walkman.

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