iTunes Apple Lossless Setting Mystery

Perhaps you can explain this peculiarity. I have my Import Settings set to Apple Lossless, and I use this whem ripping CD's or downloading from music sites. Yet when I am in my Library, and I right-click on a song, one of the options is Convert to Apple Lossless. When I choose that option, it looks like the song is being converted, based on what shows in the information bar on the top of iTunes. It shows time elapsed and conversion speed.

What is going on here? Have I not imported with Apple Lossless in the first place. Is there a duplicative conversion process going on? Anyone with an answer to this mystery? Thanks.

Yes, I have the same setting, etc. I am pretty sure that you are simply reading it in its stored format (Apple Lossless) and then writing it back as Apple Lossless.
That is a convenience setting. Say you plug in an external USB drive full of MP3s but you prefer to have everything in Apple format. That setting will convert the file format to M4A format and copy it to your local iTunes drive. (It will leave the files on the temporary drive unaltered.)

The catch is the software isn't smart enough to see if your file is already in that format and in your local iTunes folder. As such it will repeat the process needlessly if you ask it to.

I am not sure what computer you are using or which version of itunes you are working with. To find out whether your song is originally downloaded in apple lossless format, go to itunes, select one of your songs, go to the itunes toolbar, click on "get info", and an info panel will open. It has all sorts of info about that song. Look for "format". It should say "apple lossless". If it does you are good to go. If it does not, you need to re-set your import preferences. Best of luck!!
Thanks to all. Mystery solved. Saves me a lot of time. And Audioesq, I discovered a similar trick. I right-click on the song in the Library and the info comes up.