How to Play FLAC or Other Lossless Audio Files in iTunes

If you buy or download music in FLAC files, you may want to play them in iTunes. While iTunes doesn’t support FLAC files, it’s very easy to convert them to Apple Lossless, or ALAC, an equivalent lossless format that iTunes supports. Converting audio files from one lossless format to another is lossless; in other words, there is no quality lost when you convert from FLAC to ALAC. (The same is true with other uncompressed or lossless formats, such as WAV, AIFF, APE, SHN, and others.)

Lossless files

The best app for doing this on a Mac is the free XLD. It can convert too and from just about every audio format you will even want to use, and does so retaining metadata; tags with track info and album artwork.

If you use Windows, you can get a free version of dBpoweramp, which can convert files, and a paid version, which you can use to rip CDs, edit tags and more.

There used to be some third-party tools that hacked iTunes to let you add FLAC files, but they’re not reliable. If you want to use lossless files with iTunes, it’s much easier to just convert them; you can always convert them back to FLAC in the future if you want to.

One other useful tool, if you use a Mac, is Rogue Amoeba’s Fission. This audio editor is my tool of choice for trimming, joining, and editing audio files, and it also includes a conversion tool that lets you convert from just about any audio format to AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, FLAC, AIFF, and WAV. While it’s not the best tool if you only want to convert audio files, it is the easiest-to-use Mac app for editing those files.

One more thing. Don’t convert lossy files to lossless; they don’t sound better. (You’d be surprised how many people write me thinking they will.)