How to Play FLAC Files in Windows Media Player 12

Make Windows Media Player 12 more useful by boosting format compatibilty

Adding FLAC support to WMP 12
Installing the MadFLAC codec for WMP 12. Image © Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Windows Media Player 12: What, no FLAC?

Microsoft's media player which is built into Windows may be a popular tool for playing digital music, but when it comes to format support it can be rather antiquated. Compare it to other jukebox software programs, like VLC Media Player, and you'll find its audio format support quite sparse.

Out of the box Windows Media Player 12 isn't compatible with the popular lossless format, FLAC.

However, by installing a FLAC codec you can quickly add support not only in WMP, but also for any other music playing software which might not be FLAC-aware.

For this tutorial we are going to use a popular codec pack which comes with a wide range of audio and video codecs. If you intend on staying with WMP 12, then adding more formats will extend its usefulness as your main media player.

Adding FLAC Support to Windows Media Player 12

  1. Download Media Player Codec Pack. You can get the latest version from www.mediaplayercodecpack.com
  2. Double-click on the downloaded installer. Incidentally, it's a good idea at this stage to make sure WMP 12 isn't running.
  3.  On the first screen of the installer, click the radio button next to the Detailed Installation option. This is important to do if you want to ensure no other software gets silently installed without your approval.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Read the end user license agreement (EULA) and then click the I Agree button.
  1. On The Choose Components screen you'll see a lot of codecs that are automatically selected for installation. If you want the maximum format support (and an alternative software player to WMP), then it's best to leave these default selections. However, if you're only interested in installing audio codecs then you can deselect the following sections: Additional Player; Video Codec's & Filters; Source Splitters & Filters; Other Filters; Associate Video Files; Disc Handler.
  1. Click Next.
  2. Like a lot of free software, Media Player Codec Pack comes with a potentially unwanted program (PUP). To avoid installing this software (which at the time of writing is a weather forcast toolbar), click the Custom Installation radio button. Un-check the box next to Install The Desktop Tool.
  3. Click Next.
  4. Wait for the installation to complete and then click the OK button.
  5. Restart your computer to ensure all the changes take effect.

Once Windows is up and running again, test that you can play FLAC files. Windows Media Player 12 should already be associated with files ending in .flac so double clicking on a file should automatically bring up WMP.