How to convert .flac files to .mp3 using OS X

This tutorial will walk you through the steps to convert .flac files to .mp3 using OS X and one Open Source (free) app.

This tutorial was first published in 2006. I have updated it (July 2015) 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. You’ll only need to go through the configuration process 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. Drag to your Applications folder to install it.

  4. click to enlarge

  5. 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…
  6. Select the Formats tab.

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  8. Select MP3 from the Available output formats:, and click the small plus (+) button.

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  10. Now select MP3 from the Configured output formats: list by clicking on it once, and then click the Encoder Settings button.

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  12. From here you can determine the quality of the MP3s that Max will output.

  13. click to enlarge

  14. 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.

  15. click to enlarge

  16. Now place a check in the box labeled MP3.

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  18. Select the Output tab from the top menu. In the Locations section, click the Output files: menu.

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  20. 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.

  21. click to enlarge

  22. Close the Preferences window, select File from the Menu Bar, and then Convert Files…
  23. Navigate to the folder with your FLAC file(s), select them, and click the Open button.

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  25. 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.

  26. click to enlarge

  27. 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.

  28. click to enlarge

  29. 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 etc.

  30. click to enlarge

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

208 thoughts on “How to convert .flac files to .mp3 using OS X”

  1. Pingback: How to convert .flac files to .mp3 using Windows

  2. I’d rather play my FLACs with Fluke in iTunes 10.6.1 (latest supported version currently) than converting them. Disks are cheap. I have 1.5 TB.

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

  4. 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!!

  5. I go on iTune (it’s 10 that I have) and when I go in the Preferecnces and Advanced, the option Import does not exist. How do Ido???

  6. Thank you so much for your help! This worked perfectly, and xACT worked just great. The only discrepancy is that iTunes automatically accepted my .wav files–less work for me! Thanks again.

  7. Awesome. I really didn’t feel like jumping into a process that is never as easy as it sounds. Well, thanks to your instructions, it was done in a snap!
    It was a simple as riding a bike and chewing gum. Thanks!

  8. This doesn’t work with my iTunes anymore. After converting the *.flac files to *.wav, I just converted them to AAC in iTunes.

    I wish I knew how to convert them to mp3 too for easier sharing.

  9. to: tips
    thank you very much, it works without any problems! Much easier and faster way convert files without using several different programs. But – of course – why to do it simply if people have possibility to do it in complicated way :)

  10. Just google search Step-by-step Guide on How to Convert FLAC to MP3 using Windows or Mac

    you will find a simple way to convert flac to mp3, wav, m4a, aac, wma

  11. Same again, cheers mate…….I take it that theres no way of keeping the same track info etc …i.e. Not having to edit all the track info when its in itunes…edit multiple info – artist/album name etc…… i dont really care anyway, also long as i can play it in itunes.

  12. Thanks so much for this tutorial – it was so easy, even though my iTunes version is a bit newer. I could still figure it out. I am so thankful for people like you!

  13. Pingback: .flac to .mp3, anyone? « water28

  14. Much easier: go to the ‘Lossy’ tab in xACT and encode the .flac files into MP3 with the desired bitrate. No use for iTunes at all!

  15. One step:
    Use Max
    Set the prefernces of Max to what you like (I use 320 MP3 for top quality), and where you want the converted files to be saved. Drop Flac files (bunches is fine) into the Max window and click the “Convert” gear icon.

  16. @ james o,

    mine too, i think it i s because we are using snow leo os, and thiswas shown by using just os.
    you just to look arouns and try couple of things, but it works just as the same. good luck.

  17. hello, i’ve been reading this tutorial and it shows to work very good, (i haven’t try it yet). but my question is: i don’t like to have mp3 format on my i-pod, all my music is in AAC format, does the .flac format loose quality when is converted to mp3 and then to AAC? if it does i won’t work for me. Thank you.

  18. i have a mac, and when i open my itunes, go into preferences and go to advanced, mine looks completley different from the picture, anyone know why?

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

  20. Thanks dude. Although there wasn’t time for a coffee as I have an 8 core mac pro and the flacs were done in seconds :-)

  21. Thanks for this info. I’m a new Mac user and it’s weird not knowing how to do everything after being a Winblows poweruser for so long. This guide was much appreciated!

  22. hey wayland,

    i have a brand new MAC with snow leo. If you notice this xACT program help is a bit different when it comes from the instructions between OS X and SnowLeo. Eventually I figured it out.
    In some occasions I have converted the flac to wav and then to MP3 for iTunes to play and for some reason (after being converted to MP3’s) ITunes could not play them showing that the tracks couldn’t be found and asking: “would you like to search for them?”, weird!!!!. Once again, some how, now it works.
    Have you try do them one at the time?. Have you try to convert other flac music files in your new MAC?.
    I suggest to keep trying and see if it would work, I am puzzled why it is showing that error report in your brand new MAC.
    Please let us know if you get it to work.


  23. I recently got my first iMAC. I was able to convert flac files to wav using the method described here. Now, every time I try, I get error messages on nearly every track. (Occasionally, one track will convert successfully, but not often.) The error report I get is:
    /Volumes/My Book/Bob Dylan/2010 live/Bob Dylan 3-16-10 Osaka hide taper/bd2010-03-16_01.flac:
    bd2010-03-16_01.flac: ERROR while decoding data

    Can someone help me out with this. I never had any problem like this when I had a PC.


  24. Very helpful, although with the new itunes update some bits are no longer quite accurate. Otherwise quite good though!

  25. Thank you very much that works well. I realized (after trashing my files) that its necessary to save the wav files in my regular folder, other wise, Itunes creates the converted mp3 files, and saves it in the iTunes folder, in my Users folder. Unfortunately, that is just the copy version and is not a hard copy…So I just save the converted .wav files, and add those to my external drive back up, so that I have the originals of my files and not just a soft copy. I dont want to save FLAC files, either, cause they take up so much room.

  26. great job! m-uch-p3 thanx!

    in steps 2 thru 4 or 5 it is a bit different using the mac os snow leo, but it is easy to figure it out.

  27. Someone wrote about the “import options” vanishing in an iTunes update. They just moved them. Now instead of under advanced you can find them in the general category in iTunes preferences. Look where it asks you what to do when you insert a CD.

  28. Tried converting some FLAC files to WAV using xAct and kept getting applescript error “The variable theStatusPanel is not defined. (-2753)” Had bettter luck with All2MP3 program

  29. Hello there, thank you so much for posting these steps.
    Why is that only a few of the .wav files get added to my library?
    I can’t seem to find an answer for this, please help.

    Thanks, L

  30. Pingback: Converting .flac files to .mp3 | Mementum

  31. thank you so much, aside from the fact that the conversion tool was changed =took me awhile to figure that out xP= this tutorial was great. thank sagain

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

  33. 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!

  34. Hey guys
    i just find out. that you can decode, transform or convert .Flac Files in to mp3
    Download xACT, install the aplication, run it
    click on the tab LOSSY. select CBR Bitrate onto 128 kbps, drag the file you wanto to convert, and click Encode.
    the flac file in to mp3
    Numi From Chile

  35. Pingback: How to convert .flac files to .mp3 using OS X – Simple Help | I Dreamed a Dream

  36. Thank you so much. I was glad to hear i wan’t in a dirt hole after finding out .flac files were compatible for conversion. This guide/ tutorial was smooth and used graphics we needed to see. Thanks again for the .flac to .mp3 guide! 5 out of 5 stars!

  37. looks like this artical needs to updated to include the flac to mp3 (via LAME) button that exists on the newer version.
    drage drop, change your bit rate (encode MP3 at the 128 default? I think not) click the button. done

  38. Wouldn’t it be easier just to go straight from .flac to .mp3 with the LAME encoder using xACT (under “lossy” tab if LAME is installed)?

    Agreed. This option worked fine for me.

  39. I am trying to convert a DMB show (.flac format), and keep getting this error —

    Can’t get «class view» id 15 of «class tabV» id 5 of window id 1. (-1728)”

    Any thoughts? I am using a mac….

  40. Wouldn’t it be easier just to go straight from .flac to .mp3 with the LAME encoder using xACT (under “lossy” tab if LAME is installed)?

  41. Thank you for your very thorough and helpful description of how to convert FLAC files to MP3s on Macs! Very very helpful!

  42. I got bad news. There have been some updates to iTunes and since I haven’t converted a flac in a while, I noticed that the Advanced screen in iTune preferences has changed; it no longer has the sub menu for ‘importing.’ So, I can’t continue after this step. Any ideas?

  43. All you have to do is add the tracks in WAV format or AIFF format to itunes. Then go to preferences, GENERAL-> IMPORT SETTING-> CHOOSE MP3 OR which ever you like. Then go back to the playlist, select all tracks and control click to show get info,rating, reset play count…. ect. Then click on convert or create mp3. This will do it with the tracks you have selected.

  44. To whoever wrote this page, you are the Socrates of the schools of the cyberage, and I pay tribute to a sage.

  45. Don’t forget that you can always convert to aplle lossless if you don’t want to loose the lossless-ness of your files :)

  46. I accidently followed a link here from a “how to play .ape files” thread to this, and I can’t believe people are still using this method. It’s a very nicely made tutorial, but so out of date. There are plenty of free applications can convert from flac to mp3 in like 1 click. I use X Lossless Decoder but if you google it there are many others.

    Also doing all this with wave files means you loose the metadata as wave doesn’t support it. Which means typing out all the track names all over again.

  47. @Ryan
    I’m pretty sure they’ve updated that so now its on the bottom of the ‘General’ preferences tab. I had the same problem.

  48. Hey,
    the program stalled and wont close… I turned the computer on and off and yet its still trying to decode… How do I close the application???

  49. wtf? that was so easy. I’ve been trying to figure that out forever. Thanks for pointing out a great app and writing up some very awesome guidelines.
    just a heads-up: the import settings for the version of iTunes i use were under the General tab.
    thanks again!

  50. While this will get the music converted, you’ll lose all the metadata. This means you won’t have artist, album, song name, anything. Wave files don’t support this metadata.

    That’s why we need a Mac app that does what Foobar2000 and others do on Windows: convert from FLAC to MP3 while retaining all metadata.

  51. Or you could just use Toast Titanium…Create and Image, Mount that Image, then Import CD into iTunes. The only drag is having to enter the track info manually

  52. Garzillor –

    Yes, I can see that as being a pretty good method as well. The only problem being that Toast isn’t free, and all of the software used in this tutorial is. I bought Toast for some of the advanced burning options, but I’d guess a lot of folks might not (because the built in and/or free burning software for OS X covers their needs). Either way, neat ‘trick’ :)

  53. In Toast
    Put all songs into a Toast “audio” window.
    File > Save As Disc Image… > Save it to desktop.
    Utilities > Mount Disc Image > Chose the image

    In iTunes
    File > Add to Library > chose the the songs on the fake CD image that is mounted .
    Click OK.

    It took about a total of 1 minute, works great.

  54. I’m having some serious issues getting it to appear on my ipod. I think I’m doing everything write…

    I’m using a flac file that is not from that site you provided…

    Maybe the problem is when I first download the flac. Where I first download it, where should I specify it to go?

  55. hey, i just used that program u mention on your tutorial but I went to the LOSSY option, chose my files and folder, chose the bibrate and click encode. and THAT WAS IT!! I was listening to my music on itunes on mp3 format. great sound, small MB size.

  56. I fond this several months ago and it’s bee working a treat on my MacBook!! Thanks so much.

    My problem now is that I have downloaded a whole cd that has been converted into a single flac. I assume that there is some way to decode into the separate tracks.

    I have the .cue .flac and .log files

    I can’t work it out and have looked on a couple of Mac forums but can’t see any help.

    I’d be grateful for some advice.

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

  58. you can just dag all your flac files into xACT in the lossy tab and convert them then and there no need to decode them then re encode them in itunes at all also full bitrate control too
    thanks for tip on using xACT tho :)

  59. Thanks so much. I paid the extra money for the new Girl Talk album and got it as .FLAC files, forgetting they wouldn’t play on my iPod. Worked great, no hassle, no need to pay for a program to do it. Fantastic.

  60. 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!

  61. ???well, at least on itunes 7.7, flac doesn’t get converted, tpic heading being flac-to-mp3, no it don’t work. maybe bastards apple, they always heted open source support

  62. Stuart Campbell

    No as in, Do not use 192KBs that will sound deplorable. You download flac for the sound quality. use lime wire if you wanting rubbish mp3s. at least put it to 320 KBs. or better yet if you are using an iPod then encode it as an Aiff.

  63. @ IchabodChron

    Older versions of xACT couldn’t do the mp3 encoding…you’ll notice there’s no lossy tab at the top of the screenshot ins tep 4.

    xACT have certainly made it a little easier to go from FLAC to mp3 without using any other software now. Nice one.

    And thanks for the tutorial Ross.

  64. Highly recommend X Lossless Decoder (XLD). Freeware open source that is command line, but also has a very nice easy to use GUI. You can go from flac to just about any format Mac/iPod/itunes support…also very fast, and grabs or retians ID3 and cover art in the process for flac conversion and also most other conversions too like .ape etc.

    You can grab it here:

    It’s constantly being updated/improved. The website has command line instructions, but if you use the GUI (the it’s just a matter of setting the preferences and drag and drop converting…very easy.

    You can also grab the latest builds of various decoders from there too, and compile the latest builds of XLD if you know how, otherwise using the lastest GUI download works great.

    Available in a different languages. Author has a donate button on his page, if you use this a lot it would be cool to support the author so he continues to develop the program (I have no connection with the author, just my 2 cents).

  65. Haha, it’s really funny that everyone used this guide and spent all that time when xACT can just do MP3 encoding on a FLAC. Using iTunes for MP3 encoding doesn’t actually keep the FLAC files high quality for those who care about sound quality.

  66. Thanks for you efforts, this tutorial looks great
    …only problem is every time I try to convert the FLAC I get the error:

    does anyone know what this means, or how I can resolve it?
    ….would appreciate any advice please :)

  67. Pingback: .flac a .mp3

  68. Pingback: converting flac files

  69. hi there,

    many thanks for this tutorial, i’m very new to all this and i really have to thank you.

    made it very simple to follow.

    all the best,


  70. Pingback: Rule TwentyNine » Blog Archive » Converting .flac Files on a Mac (2)

  71. The Max program is very nice. I had to use the ‘unstable’ version on leopard. Converted some .flac and some .ogg files effortlessly and even had growl notifications when it was done. Beautiful!

  72. I know how to convert regular flac files, but flac16 files to not convert on xact on my macbook. I have had a John Mayer show sitting on my desktop for months and have been unable to convert it. Any help would be great. Thanks a lot.

  73. NO, because you lose all the metadata when you go from FLAC to wave. We need to go from FLAC to MP3 and retain the metadata.

    Unless you enjoy tediously typing in the same information over and over.

  74. I keep getting “error while decoding metadata” responses. Perhaps the files really are corrupt, but — Any suggestions?

  75. @Mark:

    I just sent this as an email to you – but I might as well post it here to help other folks.

    Does it happen w/ more than one fileset? ie. from a different group of
    flacs? That error usually happens when the .flac files are corrupt.
    You can usually tell if they’re corrupt by trying to play them – if
    they don’t play, they’re buggered. If they do play, there might (?) be
    a problem w/ xact (which I doubt). There’s a great program that I
    should use to re-write my mac flac > mp3 tutorials called “Max” by

    It’s free, and it can convert pretty much any file you throw at it
    from one format to another. Give it a shot – if it fails too – or if
    the flac files don’t even play – it’s because they’re corrupt. Which
    means whoever made them messed it up, or the download never actually

  76. I downloaded the software v.1.59 and followed the step by step guide but the .flac files are not decoding, I have been promted by an error and the software won’t decode even when I tick the box go bypass the error!

    error message below:

    > /Users/garyjamesdickson/Documents/Azureus Downloads/Lou Reed – Between Thought And Expression/Disc 1/01 – I Can’t Stand It.flac: flac: invalid option — /
    flac: invalid option — U

  77. Pingback: Converting Between Audio File Formats «

  78. I know how to convert regular flac files, but flac16 files to not convert on xact on my macbook. I have had a John Mayer show sitting on my desktop for months and have been unable to convert it. Any help would be great. Thanks a lot.

  79. This prog and step by step has been invaluable to me. I found the entire process to be very straightforward. Great work! Thank you very much.

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  81. Thanks so much. These directions were perfect and easy to follow. You are a genius! I bookmarked this page

    mom to Estee Li Li
    the Sweetest little girl in all of China

  82. thank yo so much. Such a great tutorial … really took you thru each step and even explaining how long each step would take, the best one I’ve ever come across. Thank you!

  83. Christophe diezma

    Hey you, thanks so much for the info .. I have had all these Bach music on .flac that I have not been able to play on my iPod .. this did it! YOU ARE THE MAN !

  84. Pingback: A beginners guide to lossless audio - Simplehelp

  85. Pingback:   How do you put flac files on your iPod?

  86. Pingback:   How do you put flac files on your iPod?

  87. Pingback: How to convert .flac files to .mp3 using Windows - Simplehelp

  88. It would be easier to use a program named NoteBurner. The program works with iTunes, Windows Media Player and Realone. You can convert all protected or unprotected music to plain mp3, wam or wav easily.

  89. 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!

  90. Nicely presented tutorial. I’d like to add to this thread that anyone that knows how to open up a terminal on Mac OS X take a look at this script:

    It’s simple really, you run the script, wait a bit..

    12 flac files found. Sorting…done.
    Processing “01-Futuresex,Lovesound.flac”
    Processing “02-Sexyback.flac”
    Processing “03-Sexy Ladies.flac”
    etc, etc..

    then find you have an iPod friendly directory of mp3’s. Apart from the lack of interaction it also maintains the metadata tags which I’d consider almost essential. The xAct/iTunes method won’t maintain tags as I understand it.

    Horses for courses and all that.


  91. Holy crap, thankyou so much for this info. I am very lucky to have found it. All I wanted to do is get a f—in mp3 ringtone and I have put 5+ hours into it. Now with Audacity and this little bit on itunes converting it is now possible. Thats the Apple drawback, no software. Yeah I couldn’t even find what I wanted even if I pay. Rediculous.

    Well now I can make my own ringtones out of my purchased music, thanks a lot.

    Oh, no I dont want to pay! (coming form someone in college!)

  92. Pingback: How to convert .shn files to .mp3 using OSX - Simplehelp

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