February 24, 2016

Merge MP3 Files Using CAT Command On Mac OS X

Are you looking for a super quick way to merge multiple MP3 files into one big MP3 file? This can be done using the CAT (concatenate) command in Mac OS X. I mean, sure, you could load all the MP3’s back-to-back into a track in GarageBand and then export to a new MP3 file, but who has time for that?

I wanted to figure out how to do this so that I could quickly assemble a brief podcast. I wanted to record my one-take stream of consciousness podcast using a program called Simple Recorder, save the file, then merge it with a preexisting MP3 file that contained the canned podcast introduction. That way, I never have to open GarageBand or any other multi-track audio software. It’s quick. It’s painless. It works (usually).

I  have to warn you that the method I’m about to show you is probably not the safest way to merge MP3 files. But, if the files are recorded in the same bitrate, and they are playable in iTunes, then this method should work in most cases.

Using the CAT command you can join two or more MP3 files. For both methods below, we will assume there are three MP3 files in the current directory of the Terminal prompt. They are named file1.mp3, file2.mp3, and file3.mp3.

METHOD 1: Merge Two Or More MP3 Files

cat file1.mp3 > newfile.mp3
cat file2.mp3 >> newfile.mp3
cat file3.mp3 >> newfile.mp3

METHOD 2: Merge Two Or More MP3 Files

cat file1.mp3 file2.mp3 file3.mp3 > newfile.mp3

Simple, right? As long as all the MP3 files are recorded at the same bitrate, it should just work.

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By the way, you can also use the CAT command to merge other types of files. The most obvious would be text files, but you can also merge QuickTime MOV files (although I’ve never tested this).

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