How to Play FLAC Files in Windows Media Player

Written by theon weber
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How to Play FLAC Files in Windows Media Player
FLAC files provide the maximum possible audio quality. (music note image by Nataliya Galkina from

The FLAC file format encodes audio using a lossless compression algorithm--one that does not reduce the quality of the original sound at all. The quality of FLAC makes it a popular format for audiophiles, but Windows Media Player does not natively play FLAC files. It's possible, though awkward, to add this functionality.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Go to the System dialogue in the Windows Control Panel. In Windows XP this is accessed by clicking "Start" -> "Settings" -> "Control Panel" and double-clicking on "System;" in Vista, you can simply click "Start," then type "system" in the Start Search box and click on the "System" choice in the Programs list.

  2. 2

    Look at the operating system name in the System window. If it contains the key "x64," you are running a 64-bit version of Windows; if it doesn't, you are running a 32-bit version.

  3. 3

    Download the FLAC registry patch for your version of Windows. (See "Resources" for a link.)

  4. 4

    Download the madFLAC decoder. (See "Resources" for a link.)

  5. 5

    Right-click on the madFLAC archive and select "Extract." Extract the contents to a folder on the desktop.

  6. 6

    Run INSTALL.BAT inside the madFLAC folder.

  7. 7

    Double-click on the .REG file you downloaded in Step 3 to apply it to the Windows registry.

  8. 8

    Reboot your computer. Windows Media Player should now be configured to play FLAC files.

Tips and warnings

  • If the registry patches merely appear as text in your browser, click "File," then "Save Page As" to download them.
  • While this fix works, if you are going to be playing a lot of FLAC files, it might be better to download one of the several free media players featuring native FLAC support, such as VLC Media Player ( or Winamp (

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