Enable FLAC support on Windows 8

Windows has been lacking of FLAC support since the very first version. For those who do not know, FLAC is an open lossless audio format. Even Microsoft supports many audio formats out of the box, FLAC was never supported and it is still not even in Windows 8. And since Windows 8 already hit RC version, it is very unlikely we see the support implemented in the RTM version, even users are requesting for that.

Even currently there is nothing you can do to get FLAC support in Windows 8 Music application (due to no support of additional codecs), there is still something you can do to get FLAC support in Windows File Explorer and Windows Media Player.

Support in Windows Media Player

If you are planning to listen your FLAC collection using Windows Media Player, there are two things you will need:

  • Support for FLAC playback
  • Support for FLAC tags in WMP

To play FLAC files using Windows Media Player I recommend using “Media Foundation FLAC Codec“. All you need to do is download and install this codec. Optionally, at the end of installation you can automatically associate your FLAC files with Windows Media Player. Be advised, that this is not the only possible solution for playing FLAC files with WMP – any codec pack including FLAC support should work. So, if you already have one installed, your WMP might be already able to play FLAC files.

For WMP to be able to read FLAC tags, the only option I am aware of is installing “WMP Tag Plus“. This free Windows Media Player plugin adds tag support not only for FLAC files, but for APE, WV, OGG, MPC and few others.

WMP Tag Plus installedAs you can see in the screenshot above, Windows Media Player was able to successfully extract tags from the FLAC files. Without the plugin, all those fields would be empty (displayed as a dash).

Support in File Explorer

To get FLAC tags support in File Explorer, you will need to download and install this small tool, called “Windows 7 FLAC Property Handler“. Even the name says it is for Windows 7, it works great with Windows 8 (both 32-bit and 64-bit) too. The tool was created by the author of blog named https://castlemadeofsand.wordpress.com, but unfortunately, the blog was closed and the tool removed. The tool still can be find on some file sharing services or forums.

So, this is a screenshot of File Explorer WITHOUT having the addon installed:

Without Windows 7 FLAC Property Handler

And once you install the addon, this is what you can see when browsing your FLAC files:

With Windows 7 FLAC Property HandlerAs you can see all important tags are extracted from the files. Also, even “Detail” view does not display thumbnail (that is valid for all files), album cover is also supported and it is visible once you switch the view to “Icons”, “Tiles” or “Content”.

As I have said in the beginning of the post, Metro Music application still will not support FLAC files even installing the applications listed above. It is a bit pity Microsoft is not considering supporting this format (it is not supported in Windows Phone either) even there are quite a lot people requesting for it.

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33 comments on the post

  1. Thanks for the post. This is excellent info. Do you know how to get it to play in the Music app too?

  2. Thanks for this invaluable info,

    I was wondering if you know anything about the xbox music and the bought music from it. I use Amazon, HDTracks and 7digital for my music so I like to have very high quality music if I am not buying a CD. Are the music files bought from the XBM app drm free and what quality are they?

    • Sorry, I really do not have that kind of information about Xbox Music. I am pretty much sure tracks bought there are NOT DRM free, though. As for quality, I don’t really know what is is there. I doubt is lossless.

  3. Tomas, thanks a lot for your information and your valuable post,

    in addition, if that is no trouble for you, I’d appreciate some more help.
    After installing “Windows 7 FLAC Property Handler“. I have all the tag info in the file explorer except the album art (thumbnails still show wmp12 picture). Of course, album art doesn’t show up in wmp 12 playback too.
    I am running windows 8 pro 32bit.
    What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks in advance!!

  4. The inability to play FLAC in Windows 8/RT apps wouldn’t be that troublesome if there was an option to convert FLAC to WMA Lossless in the full spectrum of supported framerates and bit-depths of WMAL.
    In my experience with Helium Audio Converter and AIMP3 Audio Converter, it is only possible to convert max. 48 KHz, 16 bit FLAC to WMAL (using VBR, 100% quality setting).
    WMAL support 96KHz/24 bit audio – the same as FLAC. Is there any way, how to convert those without the WAV halfstep?

    • xrecode II will do the conversion, including all tags and covers pics.
      Fails on 192KHz/24bit though.

  5. Thanks for the great bit of code writing. :-)
    It would be great if it would show the BPM field too, they are there in Tag and rename but not windows.
    Also looking for a BPMer for Flac files, Virtual DJ can do it but it only stores info in its own data base not in tags, ggrrrr.

  6. The Media Foundation FLAC codec doesn’t really support Media Foundation because of some unknown reasons… I tested it on my simple WPF app. Any Metro or WPF apps need real MF codecs, like WebM IE9 codec from Google.

  7. i can now play the flac files yet no flac files shows on the music list in wmp and only the picture shows in the preview panel in windows explorer. but i could manage to temporarily put the flacs in the wmp list but it only show the title, even the song lenth is not shown.

  8. I was able to play FLAC files in Windows 7 in the past, but now I’m able to enjoy some extras neat features now that i have W8. I’m happy to find your blog, and i’m happy that this worked for me.

    Even though I wish Windows 8 supported this files natively, I would guess why Microsoft won’t.

  9. Pingback: Anonymous

  10. Pingback: Windows 8: FLAC (Codec) für den Mediaplayer Thema | My Blog

  11. Method 1 Convert FLAC to Windows Media Player

    This method helps to play all kinds of FLAC audio file whatever it is 16-bit or 24-bit and wherever it comes from like from Pristine.

    Converting FLAC to WMP supported lossless WAV audio format will lose almost no audio quality.

    If we want to play FLAC in Windows Media Player as well as play FLAC in other devices like iPod, iPhone, iTunes, MP3 players, BlackBerry, converting FLAC to a more popular audio format is recommended.

    iDealshare VideoGo can fast and batch convert FLAC to Windows Media Player supported lossless audio format like WAV or lossy audio format like WMA, MP3. It also helps to convert FLAC to AIFF, AU, RA, AAC, AC3, DTS and etc. It even supports converting OGG, APE, Opus, MP4, M4A, MP4, MOV, MKV, FLV and etc to Windows Media Player.

    Method 2 Install FLAC codec for Windows Media Player

    Here we will provide two options for FLAC codec, and you just need to install one of them and then can enable Windows Media Player play FLAC files.

    Option 1: Install a DirectShow Filter

    Option 2: Intall Media Foundation FLAC Codec

    • What a useless comment. Why would you copy-paste something like this here? The blog post you’re responding to is about adding FLAC support to Explorer and Windows Media Player, and it fully covers the second method in your copy-pasted fluff. Meanwhile, the first method you quoted does not add FLAC support at all; it advises using some other software to convert FLAC to WMP Lossless. Not a solution! Your post should just be deleted. Stop wasting people’s time.

  12. hi, this is great. i also wanted to have perfect flac support in windows media player. it’s my favorite media player software in windows since ever.

    but i had to uninstall all 3 plugins & codecs and am now using foobar2000 again to play my flac files.

    reason: those tools slowed down wmp immensely. 33% cpu usage just play some music in the background? it’s way too power consuming if you have a notebook or are running other intense programs like photoshop, games .., etc

    after you uninstall everything the cpu load when running wmp will go back to normal.

  13. WOW, thanks for this. I have spent a long time searching & trying different things but to no avail until now. Thanks very much!!!!!!!!!

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