Updated: 10/30/2017 by Computer Hope
MP3 file icon

A file extension and compression method that utilizes the MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) standard to reduce the size, often by a factor of 12, while still maintaining audio quality comparable to a CD (compact disc). MP3 files are commonly used to store a song or the whole CD and require little hard drive space. Because of their small file size, a computer can save several hundred or thousands of songs.

Example of an MP3 file

Below is an example of an MP3 file that can be played through your browser.

How MP3 files are used

  • Get songs instantly by downloading or purchasing from file sharing services.
  • Store thousands or even millions of songs on a drive.
  • Share MP3 files with other Internet users.
  • Create a podcast that can be listened to over the Internet.

Downloading an MP3

For sites with links to audio file downloads, such as an mp3, it's similar to downloading other files on the Internet. It should be noted that it's harder to download an MP3 from sites that stream audio or have the audio embedded into a web page.

MP3 file history

On July 14, 1995, Karlheinz Brandenburg sent an e-mail announcing the .mp3 file extension had won a poll and announced that the old .bit file extension should no longer be used.

AAC, Encoder, iPod, iTunes, Lossless compression, Music, P2P, Sound terms, WMA