Fun Stuff, software

Playing MP3s on 68k Macintosh

If you’re looking for a fun (and modern) use for your classic Mac – there’s one option you might not have considered: playing MP3s. Up until last year I didn’t even think this was possible without at least a PowerPC system – but most 040-based Macs and some 030s can actually play MP3 files quite well!

An MP3 Player for classic Macs

Aye, Tunes

This is possible with an app called “MpegDec” (MPEG Decoder). It’s actually three separate Applications that work together: a player, an MP3->AIFF converter, and a playlist editor. The apps are a little awkward to use at first, but they generally work as advertised.

Download it here:


  • The documentation says it’ll run on an 040 or “fast 030” – in my testing it ran perfectly on a 33mhz 040 but stuttered pretty badly on a 16mhz 030 (SE/30) – if worst comes to worst you can always convert the MP3 bit rate down or convert to AIFF format on slower systems.
  • UPDATE: an MP3 is playable on an 030 LC III w/25mhz if you reduce the MP3 bitrate down to 32 kb/sec.
  • To squeeze as much performance out of your machine as possible, turn off extra extensions, file sharing, AppleTalk, reduce the color depth to black and white, or run MP3s off a RAM disk if you have enough free memory.
  • For convenience, make an AutoTyper using the FileTyper program. This allows you to drag MP3 files onto the AutoTyper which assigns a type & creator to them – so that you can easily double-click them to play.
  • Note the player’s settings are under “File” -> “Prefs” which is only available when the music is stopped. In the Prefs window you can adjust sound quality settings and have the music start as soon as a file opens.
  • To create a playlist, open the playlist editor app and drag MP3 files onto the playlist editor window. Once you have your playlist to your liking don’t forget to save it.
  • I keep an alias to a playlist in my apple menu folder – for easy access to my music.
  • If you do have a PowerPC system I’d recommend looking at GrayAMP which was an old favorite of mine. You can also run a Mac OS 9 version of iTunes if you’re so-inclined.