How to Convert FLAC Files to the Apple Lossless Format

If you take your music seriously, you might already be on board the lossless audio train. If you aren’t, it might be worth a look. Unlike lossy formats like MP3, lossless formats give you the same exact audio you would get from a CD. Sometimes, if you’re buying from a hi-res store like HDtracks, the quality is even better.

Whether you’ve ripped your own collection of CDs or bought music from a hi-res store, you might end up with files in the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) format. FLAC works on Mac with players like Vox or VLC, but not if you want to use iTunes. Fortunately, converting those files to ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) is easy, and you won’t sacrifice any quality.

Install XLD

There are a few ways to convert FLAC to ALAC on a Mac, but XLD is one of the simplest. First, you’ll need to download the app from Sourceforge. Double click the installed file, then drag the XLD icon into your Applications folder. Now you can launch the app, either by searching for it via Spotlight or by double-clicking the icon.

Configure XLD

XLD simply sits in your dock, so to configure it you’ll need to click the icon in the dock to make sure it’s selected, select XLD from the menu bar, and then select Preferences.

flac-to-alac-xld-config

By default, XLD doesn’t come set to encode to ALAC. In the preferences menu go to the “Output Format” drop-down menu at the top of the General tab and select “Apple Lossless.” While you’re here, you’ll also want to set up your output directory.

While there are a lot of other options, you can safely leave them alone.

Adding your converted files to iTunes

If you’re converting your FLAC files to ALAC, it’s likely because you want to import them into your iTunes library. You can do that while you convert them, saving yourself a step later. There are just a few extra options to set up.

XLD has an “Add encoded files to iTunes if possible” option, which may work fine for you, but there’s another way. Simply set your output directory to your “Automatically Add to iTunes” directory. Usually this will be located in “/Users/yourname/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/.”

There’s one extra precaution to take here. Make sure to select the “Use temporary folder, then move to the destination” option. Otherwise, larger files may not be properly added to iTunes.

Convert your files

Once you’ve got everything configured, you can start converting your files. If you’re in a hurry or want to take a hands-off approach, there’s one more option you can set. In Preferences click on the Batch tab, and select “Preserve directory structures.” With this enabled, you can theoretically drag and drop your entire FLAC collection onto the XLD icon and wait while it does the rest.

flac-to-alac-xld-config-batch

If you’d rather be more careful with your music collection, you can take a slower approach. You can drag individual songs, but we’ve successfully tested more than that. Dragging and dropping multiple folders of albums of songs works just fine.

You can also go to the File menu and open Folders or even Audio CDs to rip and encode. Once you have selected your files, XLD will start the conversion process. The app is fast on most computers and will convert multiple songs at a time.

flac-to-alac-xld-progress

For the first few songs or albums, you’ll want to check the converted files. As long as everything is properly named and works as intended, you can proceed with converting the rest of your collection.

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