How to Play FLAC Files on the iPhone

If your iPhone can't play FLAC files, you have two options

What to Know

  • iOS 10 or older: Convert files in iTunes to a supported format or use a FLAC player app.
  • Open iTunes: Edit > Preferences (Win)/Preferences (Mac) > General > Import Settings > Import Using > Apple Lossless Encoder > OK.
  • Select Music > Library > Songs, choose the files, and select File > Convert > Create Apple Lossless Version.

This article explains how to play FLAC files on the iPhone. Instructions apply to iOS 10 and earlier iOS versions.

Use a FLAC Player

One solution to playing a FLAC file on an iPhone is to use a music player app that supports the playback of the format. Using a FLAC player means that you don't have to know which formats iOS understands. As long as the app accepts the format, it doesn't matter what the iOS music playback limitations are.

The only downfall to this approach is getting the music collection into the media player. For this reason, a FLAC player is only helpful if your songs are FLAC-based. There are several tools to get an iPhone to play FLAC files (such as VOX or FLAC Player+), but you must provide the FLAC files to those apps.

Use Cloud Storage and a FLAC Player

One option to complete the FLAC file exchange with a media player is to upload the FLAC files to a cloud storage service you use on your phone. After you upload the audio files, import them into the media player.

To complete this process involving Google Drive and VOX, follow these steps:

  1. Find the FLAC file in Google Drive.

  2. Tap Open in > Copy to VOX.

  3. The file opens in the VOX app and starts to play.

    Three iOS screens showing Open in, Copy to VOX and VOX player

Convert the FLAC File to the ALAC Format

The other option is to convert FLAC to ALAC, which saves the FLAC file to a file with the M4A file extension.

When converting files from one lossless format to another, the files don't lose audio quality as they do when converting to a lossy format.

Use an Audio File Converter to Convert FLAC to ALAC

If you have a lot of music that needs to be in the ALAC format, convert the files in bulk with an audio file converter.

  1. To convert FLAC to ALAC, use an audio file converter.

    MediaHuman Audio Converter is one example of a program for Windows, Mac, and Linux that supports the FLAC-to-ALAC conversion.

  2. Load the FLAC files into the program or web service.

  3. Choose ALAC as the output format.

ALAC option in MediaHuman Audio Converter

An online audio converter tool is handy but inconvenient if you plan to convert more than a few files. An offline tool like MediaHuman's software is better suited for converting a large collection of files.

Use iTunes to Convert FLAC to M4A

You can also convert FLAC to M4A with iTunes, which is ideal if the audio files are on your computer. Plus, iTunes is compatible with ALAC, so it syncs these files straight to your iPhone.

  1. Open iTunes and go to Edit > Preferences (Windows) or iTunes > Preferences (Mac).

    iTunes Preferences menu item
  2. In the General Preferences dialog box, go to the General tab and select Import Settings.

    Import Settings in iTunes Preferences
  3. In the Import Settings dialog box, select the Import Using drop-down arrow and choose Apple Lossless Encoder.

    Apple Lossless Encoder option in Import Settings for iTunes
  4. Select OK.

  5. In the General Preferences dialog box, select OK to return to iTunes.

    OK button in iTunes' General Preferences window
  6. To open your music library, select Music, go to the Library tab, then select Songs.

    Songs in iTunes
  7. Select the files to convert to ALAC.

    If you can't find the files, you may need to import the music into iTunes so that the songs appear in your music library.

  8. Select File > Convert > Create Apple Lossless Version.

    Create Apple Lossless Version menu item in iTunes
  9. After a few seconds or longer, depending on the number of files being converted, the ALAC-formatted M4A files appear next to the originals in your iTunes library.

    iTunes music conversion process in Windows 8
  10. Now that the FLAC files exist in a compatible format with your device, sync your iPhone with iTunes to copy the ALAC songs to your phone.

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