How to Convert FLAC files to MP3 using macOS

This tutorial will walk you through the steps to convert .flac files to .mp3 on your Mac, using completely free (open source) software.

This tutorial was first published in 2006. I have updated it (2020) so that it’s current and uses the easiest, most straight forward process possible (and of course, free software). If you’re looking for the Windows version of this guide, check this step-by-step tutorial.

  1. First things first, you’ll need to download Max and configure it. For this guide I used Max-0.9.1.tar.bz2, which is the most recent “stable” version of Max. You can also use Max-0.9.2b2.dmg which is the latest version, although it’s considered “unstable”. You’ll have no trouble following this guide if you opt for the latest version, they’re almost identical in terms of user interface. The configuration process only needs to be done once – every subsequent time you want to convert a flac to an mp3 it will just be a few clicks.
  2. Once you’ve downloaded Max, double-click the file to extract it.
  3. the Max bz2 file in a Finder window

  4. Drag to your Applications folder to install it.
  5. dragging the max app to the Applications folder on a Mac
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  6. Launch Max from your Applications folder. No “window” will open, but you’ll notice the Menu Bar now lists Max as the active Application. Select Max and then Preferences…
  7. the File menu for Max

  8. Select the Formats tab.
  9. the formats tab in Max
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  10. Select MP3 from the Available output formats:, and click the small plus (+) button.
  11. the formats tab in Max with an arrow pointing to MP3
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  12. Now select MP3 from the Configured output formats: list by clicking on it once, and then click the Encoder Settings button.
  13. the Encoder Settings button
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  14. From here you can determine the quality of the MP3s that Max will output.
  15. an arrow pointing to the Encoder Quality in Max
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  16. I prefer higher quality MP3s, so from the Encoder quality: drop-down menu, I selected Best. Click OK when you’ve determined the quality of the outputted MP3s.
  17. the MP3 format options for Max
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  18. Now place a check in the box labeled MP3.
  19. Max with a check mark in the MP3 box
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  20. Select the Output tab from the top menu. In the Locations section, click the Output files: menu.
  21. specify an Output Location
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  22. Change it to Same as source file. This means that your converted MP3s will be created inside the same folder that the originating FLAC files reside it. It makes them very easy to find once the conversions have completed.
  23. an arrow pointing to the Same as Source File option
    click to enlarge

  24. Close the Preferences window, select File from the Menu Bar, and then Convert Files…
  25. convert mp3 to flac on a mac

  26. Navigate to the folder with your FLAC file(s), select them, and click the Open button.
  27. selecting flac files to convert to mp3 in macOS
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  28. The File Conversion window will pop up, with all of the FLAC files you selected in the previous step. Click the Convert button from the top menu.
  29. the file conversion window in Max
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  30. Sit back and watch your FLAC files convert to MP3. This process can take quite a while, depending on the number of FLAC files you’re converting and the speed of your Mac.
  31. the process of converting flac files to MP3 using a Mac
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  32. Once the conversion has completed, navigate to the folder that contained your FLAC files. You’ll notice that for each one, there’s now a corresponding MP3 file. You can sort the MP3s from here, add them to iTunes or the Music app if you’re using macOS Catalina etc.
  33. a finder window with flac and mp3 files
    click to enlarge

  34. Going forward, you’ll only need to open Max and start at step #13 when you want to convert more FLAC files to MP3 on your Mac. All done!

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33 thoughts on “How to Convert FLAC files to MP3 using macOS”

  1. This is SO appreciated! Well written and clearly explained. So you see, the internet IS useful at times! Thanks a lot!

  2. awesome instruction! the best. I used this a few years ago and needed it again… so glad it’s still out there, AND updated, bonus! thanks!!

  3. i must say this is a great tutorial! thanks for ur help now mate i can listen to m afx collection on my phone

  4. you. are. awesome. ive been googling how to turn flac files into itunes files for like half an hour. thankyou :D :D :D

  5. But this program does convert to mp3 as well … just click on the “lossy” tab and follow the same directions as above. Although I do agree – Audacity rocks!

  6. Thanks man that was awesome. I’m totally lost with this stuff and I appreciate you taking the time to write this all up.

  7. Brilliant! Thank-you so much, this was expertly laid out, clear and concise, and basically held my hand through the process, which is what I need being a computer dunce. Much appreciated!

  8. thank you so much for this simple and effective explanation!

    i was devastated when, for some reason, my computer took a WHOLE day to download some files, then i opened it, and they were .flac files, a format i’d NEVER heard of!

    thankyou for making it possible for me to hear them on my iPod now!

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