Media on the Move: Transferring Files Between iTunes and Your Kindle Fire

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Sometimes you don’t want to use iTunes. Believe it or not, you can turn off the genius of Apple and float between Apple’s ecosystem and Amazon’s. If you have a Kindle Fire, you can enjoy your favorites without repurchasing anything. Here’s how.

Get Yourself a Media Converter

The first thing you need to do is find yourself a file conversion tool that will convert your files to something that both the Kindle and iTunes can play. One of the best programs out there, at least for video, is the YouTube Downloader app, or YTD. This program lets you upload videos from your hard drive and select a conversion option from a simple menu.

The tool can convert and optimize video for Windows machines, Mac, and several other devices. Specifically, it changes the file name so that it’s compatible with whatever native media player you happen to be using. Just remember to respect intellectual property rights when using downloaded material.

Select The Right Output Format

When selecting the right output format, it’s important to remember that the Kindle Fire only accepts MP3 music files and MP4 video files. When converting songs, select “audio files to:”. For videos, select “video files to:”.

Then, select the appropriate file type from the list. If you want to transfer the music or video files back to iTunes, you’ll have to re-convert them to an iTunes-compatible format.

When converting files, one thing to pay attention to is whether you are compressing the video or leaving it in its normal uncompressed format. Usually, most people choose to compress files since uncompressed files take up a lot of space.

Bitrate affects the playback too. In general, you don’t want to change the bitrate unless you absolutely have to. Lowering the bitrate only degrades audio performance, because parts of the audio are discarded in the process.

So, for example, using an MP3 file format will create a lossy compression. This means that part of the audio track is permanently deleted to save space.

The parts that are deleted are typically things that the compression software or codec believes are unnecessary or duplicated in the track. In practice, this isn’t always true. Sometimes, extreme lows and highs are eradicated, producing an overall lower-quality audio track. Other times, the compression produces a barely-noticeable change.

However, if you’re concerned about quality, you should err on the side of caution for both video and audio, and choose a lossless compression or a lossy compression that doesn’t sacrifice much.

An excellent example of this is H.264 for video. It’s a lossy compression scheme, but the file is compressed in such a way so as to still produce a high-quality file.

Sync iTunes Files To Kindle Fire

Once you’ve converted all of the files you want for your Kindle, you need to sync your files with the Kindle Fire. By clicking on “find target,” you can find the converted files on your computer. Connect your Kindle Fire to the computer and then import them into the device.

Once the files are on your Kindle, you can choose to keep them there or upload them to the cloud. Uploading audio to the cloud is pretty simple. Just download the Amazon Cloud Player and follow the instructions for uploading your files. For video, you may have to look for a premium cloud service, like Bitcasa or create your own personal cloud server using Synology’s Diskstation or Western Digital’s MyCloud.

Formats That Are Compatible

Not all file formats are compatible between the Kindle Fire and iOS or Mac programs like iTunes. According to Amazon, the Kindle Fire supports AZW (the default Kindle ebook format), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Doc, Docx, Audible (AA or AAX), JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, non-DRM, AAC, MP3, OGG, MP4, VP8, and WAV.

iTunes, on the other hand, is compatible with H.264 (a highly compressed, lossy, but also high-quality video format), M4V, MP4, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, 3GPP, 3GPP2, AVI, DV, AVCHD, and MOV files. It also supports the MPEG-4 format for video.

For audio, you’ve got AAC-LC audio up to 160 kbps, MP3 core audio, M4B, M4P, AU, AIFF, SD2, SND, and AMR. iTunes will also play Quicktime files.

So, you see, there is a little bit of crossover. If you select the MP4 file format, you should be able to play video on all of your devices (iPad, iPhone, etc. and Kindle Fire). While MP3 is the most common audio format, it’s also not the highest quality so you have a decision to make there.

Usually, Mac users prefer the AAC format, since it usually produces a good-quality audio.

Will Hudson has a solid knack for understanding all things IT. From setting up new computer systems to making the most of mobile devices, he enjoys blogging about security, file management, and amazing apps.

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