How to convert any video (or song) into an MP3

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convert MP3 iPhone workflow
With a couple of taps, you can convert any audio or video file to MP3
Photo: Cult of Mac

Converting an audio track to MP3 on the Mac is dead easy. Just open it with iTunes, and choose the File > Convert option from the menu bar. On iOS, though, there’s no native way to do this. There are lots of shonky-looking apps in the App Store that offer to create MP3s for you, but it’s likely that you already have the answer installed on your iPhone or iPad.

That’s right. Apple’s own WorkFlow app can quickly and easily convert any audio (or video) file to MP3.

WorkFlow to the rescue … again

WorkFlow is like Automator on the Mac — only better, and on iOS. Apple bought it last year, and continues to update it. WorkFlow lets you automate all kinds of things. And it lets you perform tasks that either require downloading a whole new app, or would be impossible otherwise. Best of all, it’s free.

Today we’re going to use WorkFlow’s Encode Media action to take a video or audio file and convert it to an MP3.

WorkFlow's Encode Media action will get the job done.
WorkFlow’s Encode Media action will get the job done.
Photo: Cult of Mac

First, open up the Workflow app and tap the + button to create a new Workflow. Then, choose Action Extension as the kind of workflow you want to create. This makes the workflow available in any app via the standard Share Sheet. While you’re here, you may want to tap the little cog icon to rename the workflow, and give it a nice icon. I picked Convert to MP3. You also may want to tap on This workflow accepts, and deselect everything but Media. This will make sure the workflow only shows up in the Share Sheet when you’re sharing an audio or video file.

Next, tap the Actions button (if you’re using an iPhone) or browse or search in the Actions list (on iPad) until you find the Encode Media action. Drag this over to the Workflow.

Then, drag over another action — Save File. That’s it for actions. Let’s set them up.

Encode media settings for MP3

Set up the actions as they are in this screenshot:

The picture makes the setup look more complex than it is. All you need to do is:

  • Set Audio only to On.
  • Format is MP3.
  • Mode is Stereo.
  • Set Bitrate to Auto.

Fill out the metadata as you like. I have it set to ask me to fill these out when the action runs.

You can of course set these any way you like. I have set the Year field to Current Date, and told the workflow to grab any artwork from my clipboard and use it for the MP3’s cover art. You should also set the Save File destination. The choices are iCloud Drive, Dropbox or Box. You can set the workflow to ask you where to save the file each time you run it, or you can select a default folder it uses every time.

Tap done, and you’re done.

Using the Convert MP3 Workflow

Share the file, tap Workflow, and choose the one you want to run.
Share the file, tap Workflow, and choose the one you want to run.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Once you’ve got the workflow set up, to convert an audio track or video to MP3, you simply share it and pick the workflow you just created. Depending on how you set up the workflow, you may be asked to fill out some of fields along the way (name, album and so on), and you may have to choose a folder save it in. Other than that, the conversion runs unsupervised.

You can share the file from the Files app to trigger the workflow.

Price: Free

Download:: Workflow from the App Store (iOS)