1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What is a FLAC File?

By

Question: What is a FLAC File?

Did you find a FLAC file on your computer and wonder what program should open it? Maybe someone emailed you a FLAC file but you're not sure how to use it. Perhaps you tried to open the FLAC file but Windows told you that it could not open it.

Before you can open a FLAC file (assuming it's even a file format that's intended to be viewed or edited), you'll need to determine what kind of file the .FLAC file extension refers to.

Answer: A file with the FLAC file extension is a Free Lossless Audio Codec file.

The Free Lossless Audio Codec format is an open source audio compression format. Audio compressed via the Free Lossless Audio Codec is lossless, meaning that no sound quality is lost during the compression, unlike other popular audio compression formats like MP3 or WMA.

Other types of files may also use the FLAC file extension. If you know of any additional file formats that use the .FLAC extension, please let me know so I can update this information.

How To Open a FLAC File

The easiest way to open a FLAC file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the FLAC file then you probably don't have an application installed that can view and/or edit FLAC files.

Warning: Take great care when opening executable file formats received via email or downloaded from websites you're not familiar with. See my List of Executable File Extensions for a listing of file extensions to avoid and why.

FLAC files can be opened with VLC media player but also with nearly every other popular media player. This will usually require a plugin or extension to be installed. Many Windows programs also exist for encoding FLAC files from CD or other sources.

The Free Lossless Audio Codec community hosts a website dedicated to the format and keeps a well maintained list of programs that support FLAC: FLAC Download Page.

If you know anything else useful about FLAC files, please let me know so I can update this page.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the FLAC file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open FLAC files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How To Convert a FLAC File

There are two main ways to attempt to convert a FLAC file to another file type:

The first option involving opening the FLAC file in its native program is preferable because it's both easier and will probably result in a more accurate file conversion. Of course if you don't have a program that opens FLAC files, a third-party file conversion tool (the second option) could be very useful.

Important: You cannot usually change a file extension (like the FLAC file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place in most cases.

Still Having Problems Opening or Using a FLAC File?

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the FLAC file and I'll see what I can do to help.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.