Why Doesn’t iTunes Support FLAC Encoding?

John Salley

Jan 23, 2017 07:35 am / Posted by John Salley to Audio

So many people can’t help but ask “Can iTunes play FLAC” or “Does iTunes play FLAC”. Unfortunately, Apple’s software and devices, like iTunes, QuickTime, iPad, iPhone, iPod, don’t support FLAC format. Just give up? No. You can still play FLAC in iTunes by converting FLAC to iTunes compatible format at first, then import FLAC to iTunes.

iTunes vs FLAC. Can iTunes play FLAC Files?

We all wish for everything to be of the best quality. We are striving to perfection in all areas of our lives. When it comes to brands of clothing, it is relatively easy to find the ones of a better quality. Food, too, can be chosen to be organic and from ecologically clean sources. What about the things we cannot touch?

Is there an iTunes service/app which can play FLAC files?

Apple has also created their own lossless format: Apple Lossless Audio Codec, usually called Apple Lossless or ALAC. There is not much difference between ALAC and FLAC since they are both lossless formats, so quality-wise they should be the same. However FLAC boasts higher compression levels which result in slightly smaller file sizes (not so critical, only nearly).

Even though they are like brothers, one has to convert FLAC file to ALAC to make sure that iTunes plays their FLAC files. There are some free programs which allow you to do that and they can be easily found on the Internet. This is the first way and it is more suitable for those who do not have a lot of FLAC files in their music library.

For audio-philes, there is another option: one can install a special FLAC player to their Apple product and save a lot of time which could be spent listening to high quality music. There is a range of similar media players – some of them play only lossless audio formats, some of them only FLAC, most of them are available at a small price. It depends on your needs – it’s that easy.

So: “Can iTunes play FLAC files?” – “No”.

Regardless of how you obtain FLAC files, you’ll need to choose one of the following options to play them on your iPhone or iPad.

1.) Convert your FLAC With Best FLAC Converter:

If you don’t have a lot of music files in the FLAC format then converting might be a better choice. For starters, iTunes is compatible with ALAC so it will sync these straight to your iPhone — not something it does with FLAC. Going the conversion route will obviously take a lot longer than keeping the files as they are. However, there’s nothing wrong with converting from one lossless format to another. You won’t lose audio quality as with converting to a lossy format.

If you think that you won’t need to play these lossless files on any other mobile operating system (just iOS), then converting all your FLAC files to ALAC will negate the need to use any third-party app on your iPhone.

For playing FLAC files in iTunes, what you only can do maybe is just to convert FLAC to Apple Lossless. With Pavtube iMedia Converter for Mac, you can easily get the task done. This maybe is the only comfort for this pity. The product is a Bu-ray ripper for Mac + DVD Ripper for Mac + Audio Extractor for Mac and Video Converter for Mac. It can transcode FLAC to Apple Lossless for iTunes with fast speed. It allows you to adjust audio size, codec, bitrate and sample rate for outputting better audio for playback in iTunes. With it, you can turn nearly all kinds of audio formats such as AIFF, AAC, FLAC, AC3, MP2, OGG, DTS, WMA, RA to iTunes playable MP3, M4A, WAV format.

Its equivalent Windows product is Pavtube Video Converter Ultimate. With it, you can change FLAC to iTunes supported Apple Lossless on Windows. Now, you can free download and install iMedia Converter on Mac at below:

Make Preparation: Free Download Top FLAC to iTunes Converter:

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Step by Step Guide on How to Convert FLAC to Import FLAC to iTunes Via Mac OS Sierra

Step 1: Import source audio to app

Simply drag and drop FLAC files to the main interface of Pavtube FLAC to iTunes Converter; click “Add File” button to open FLAC files that you want to transcode.

Step 2:  Select MP3 as the output format

Click “Format” and navigate to “Common Audio”. In the drop-down list to set “MP3 MPEG Layer-3 Audio (*.mp3)” as output format.

Step 3: Start the FLAC to iTunes process

Go back to the main interface if you have done all the preparation work. Hit the ‘Convert’ button to get our job started. The process will take you some time, which mainly depends on the size of all imported FLAC files and the performance of your Mac computer.

Now, you can sync the converted FLAC to iTunes on Mac. When the process finished, you should be able to listen FLAC audio in iTunes successfully.

2.) Download a FLAC player, such as FLAC Player or VOX:

For this option, first download your desired media player on your device. Then plug it into your computer and open iTunes. Click on your device within iTunes, navigate to the “Apps” section, and choose your FLAC player from the File Sharing section. Click “Add File” and start selecting the FLAC files from wherever they are located on your computer. While some players will automatically convert your FLAC to MP3 or ALAC, most of them simply allow your phone to play the original file.

One of the problems with these two options is the unwieldy size that FLAC and ALAC files tend to be. A single hour of FLAC audio can be up to 4 times the size of an hour in MP3 quality. Most of us don’t have the space on our devices for files that big. Also, the typical audiophile’s FLAC collection would never even begin to fit on their iPhone or iPad. Another thing to consider is the price, as most well reviewed FLAC players for Apple devices aren’t free. This is why we think option 3 is the best solution.


Luckily, the choice isn’t quite so dire. Even though iTunes and the iOS don’t support FLAC by default, here are 2 ways you can play FLAC in iTunes and iOS, Just choose one as you need.

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