I'm looking for a simple way to import .flac files into iTunes, so I can play them on my mac, and when I'm out, my iPhone, and I'm willing to be I'm not the first person to want to do this.

What are the best tools for doing this?

The quality of the music is useful, but truth be told, the speakers I'd play them on are so crappy that a lot of the sound quality in the .flac format would be lost anyway, so I'm not averse to converting to mp3 files.

If it helps give any context, I'm using a Macbook with OS 10.5 Leopard, and iTunes 9, connected to a 16gb iPhone with standard apple headphones, which is sometimes plugged into Bose SoundDock for music, and the music files are piano performances.



6 Answers 6


You can convert the flac files to wav using the standard flac tools. iTunes will import wav files, and you can convert them to mp3 or AAC there.

  • 6
    ...or to Apple lossless .m4a if you want to keep the same audio quality.
    – pelms
    Oct 7, 2009 at 19:27
  • flac -d *.flac
    – fnkr
    Oct 1, 2016 at 10:31

I am the developer of FLACTunes, which lets you import your FLAC files into iTunes as Apple Lossless files, preserving all the metadata (album art, etc.) It's four bucks on the OS X App Store. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, it is the simplest way to do what you're trying to do. The other solutions are more complex and won't preserve your metadata.



I've stumbled across this the XLD lossless decoder here - it's worked fairly well, but I need to change a few preferences:

If you try a batch conversion,the importer only searches one hierarchy level deep, which often isn't enough, so you need to set the preference to 0 to keep running recursively in a directory.

It does have a handy import into iTunes feature though, which is a nice plus.


Install the command-line tool ffmpeg via homebrew. You can use it to convert a single file to the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) in an M4A (which is supported by iTunes) with:

ffmpeg -i input.flac -c:a alac output.m4a

You can do every file in a directory with:

for f in ./*; do ffmpeg -i "$f" -c:a alac "${f%.*}.m4a"; done

You can do every file recursively (every *.flac in the current directory and all sub-directories) with:

shopt -s globstar
for f in ./**/*.flac; do ffmpeg -i "$f" -c:a alac "${f%.*}.m4a"; done
##  or:
find . -name '*.flac' -exec sh -c 'ffmpeg -i "$0" -c:a alac "${0%.*}.m4a"' {} \;

I do use xAct to convert FLAC to Apple Lossless. Works fine and is free to use.


First decode your flacs to wave files

flac -d *.flac

Then browse to that folder in iTunes, right-click and select 'create AAC version'. Find the fresh aac files (itunes hides them somewhere) and delete the big waves.

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