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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