Okay… this may not likely be new to many, but it’s something I think is interesting… Years ago, when iTunes started, every song was (and still is) an AAC file when you purchase through them. Any CD that is imported is given the option for AAC or MP3 format. Before cable connectors made it easier to just hook up the iPod to the car stereo, we might have to burn the playlist to a CD if we wanted to have it in the car. Then came the genius decision to make car stereos MP3 compatible. Make a playlist, then burn that many more songs to the CD instead of just the 70 minutes (approx.) of music you could otherwise get.
Remember, songs through iTunes are AAC. AAC ≠ MP3. Plus, early songs (prior to early 2009) were DRM encrypted, which would require some workarounds if you wanted to get an MP3 version (like burning the offending songs to make an audio CD, then reimporting the audio CD… tedious, but it would work).
At some point, though, since moving to non-DRM files, Apple has snuck in a handy feature that I don’t think was there earlier, and I’m almost embarrassed to say I only discovered it in the last month or so (I don’t live in iTunes – do some downloading, sync some tracks, but I haven’t really explored it much beyond that since about 2005, when I first began using the service.). See opening statement above.
They have added the ability to create an MP3 version of your iTunes purchased AAC tracks. Assuming a recent version of iTunes 10 (and coming from a Mac, not sure how the menu may shift for a PC), select the track, then go to “Advanced” –> “Create MP3 Version” and you’re done.
The catch… Two actually. First, it could eat up your storage space, depending on how many files you are converting (and cluttering up your library with duplicate titles). Second, and mostly of importance to us older users, you have to “upgrade” your previous purchases to the DRM-free version (which, again, means new downloads filling the hard drive), at, something like $0.30 per track (which can start getting pricey, depending on how much music you may had had before the wall came down).
But for the newer stuff, hey… if you want to make a burn an MP3 playlist to a CD for use in the car (or other player that you can’t hook an iPod to), there you go. If you knew about it before, good for you. If you didn’t, there you go.