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How to Play FLAC Files in Windows 7 Media Center & Player

An annoyance for music lovers who enjoy FLAC format, is there’s no native support for WMP or WMC. If you’re a music enthusiast who prefers FLAC format, we’ll look at adding support to Windows 7 Media Center and Player.

For the following article we are using Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit edition.

Download and Install madFLAC v1.8

The first thing we need to do is download and install the madFLAC v1.8 decoder (link below). Just unzip the file and run install.bat

1inst

You’ll get a message that it has been successfully registered, click Ok.

2inst

To verify everything is working, open up one of your FLAC files with WMP, and you’ll get the following message. Check the box Don’t ask me again for this extension and click Yes.

3play

Now Media Player should play the track you’ve chosen.

4play 

Delete Current Music Library

But what if you want to add your entire collection of FLAC files to the Library? If you already have it set up as your default music player, unfortunately we need to remove the current library and delete the database. The best way to manage the music library in Windows 7 is via WMP 12.

Since we don’t want to delete songs from the computer we need to Open WMP, press “Alt+T” and navigate to Tools \ Options \ Library.

6play 

Now uncheck the box Delete files from computer when deleted from library and click Ok.

5play

Now in your Library click “Ctrl + A” to highlight all of the songs in the Library, then hit the “Delete” key. If you have a lot of songs in your library (like on our system) you’ll see the following dialog box while it collects all of the information.

7work 

After all of the data is collected, make sure the radio button next to Delete from library only is marked and click Ok.

8work

Again you’ll see the Working progress window while the songs are deleted.

9work

Deleting Current Database

Now we need to make sure we’re starting out fresh. Close out of Media Player, then we’ll basically follow the same directions The Geek pointed out for fixing the WMP Library.

Click on Start and type in services.msc into the search box and hit Enter.

10services

Now scroll down and stop the service named Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service.

11service

Now, navigate to the following directory and the main file to delete CurrentDatabase_372.wmdb

%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Media Player\

Again, the main file to delete is CurrentDatabase_372.wmdb, though if you want, you can delete them all. If you’re uneasy about deleting these files, make sure to back them up first.

13files

Now after you restart WMP you can begin adding your FLAC files. For those of us with large collections, it’s extremely annoying to see WMP try to pick up all of your media by default. To delete the other directories go to Organize \ Manage Libraries then open the directories you want to remove.

222wmp

For example here we’re removing the default libraries it tries to check for music. Remove the directories you don’t want it to gather contents from in each of the categories.

223wmp

We removed all of the other collections and only added the FLAC music directory from our home server.

14directory

SoftPointer Tag Support Plugin

Even though we were able to get FLAC files to play in WMP and WMC at this point, there’s another utility from SoftPointer to add. It enables FLAC (and other file formats) to be picked up in the library much easier. It has a long name but is effective –M4a/FLAC/Ogg/Ape/Mpc Tag Support Plugin for Media Player and Media Center (link below). Just install it by accepting the defaults, and you’ll be glad you did.

16wmc

After installing it, and re-launching Media Player, give it some time to collect all of the data from your FLAC directory…it can take a while. In fact, if your collection is huge, just walk away and let it do its thing.

25flac

If you try to use it right away, WMP slows down considerably while updating the library.

sshot-2010-03-27-[22-49-50] 

Once the library is setup you’ll be able to play your FLAC tunes in Windows 7 Media Center as well and Windows Media Player 12.

sshot-2010-03-28-[01-11-42] 

Album Art

One caveat is that some of our albums didn’t show any cover art. But we were usually able to get it by right-clicking the album and selecting Find album info.

49dt 

Then confirming the album information is correct…

50dt 

52dt

Conclusion

Although this seems like several steps to go through to play FLAC files in Windows 7 Media Center and Player, it seems to work really well after it’s set up.

We haven’t tried this with a 64-bit machine, but the process should be similar, but you might want to make sure the codecs you use are 64-bit. We’re sure there are other methods out there that some of you use, and if so leave us a comment and tell us about it.

Update: Thanks to reader Pavel Chikulaev for pointing out that using this method won’t let you forward /rewind tracks or show track length. Hopefully someone out there has a fix for this?

Download madFlac V1.8 

M4a/FLAC/Ogg/Ape/Mpc Tag Support Plugin for Media Player and Media Center from SoftPointer

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/29/10

Comments (28)

  1. Pavel Chikulaev

    Unfortunately when I and looks like when you installed ´SoftPointer Tag Support Plugin´ time length of tracks is not displayed anymore, plus you can´t fast forward/rewind in the track and select position within the track.

    So unfortunately it is not a complete solution and that’s the reason I had to give up FLAC for now.

    If you workaround this somehow, it would be really great if you’d add how-to automatically convert FLAC songs to MP3 when syncing library with mobile MTP device.

  2. Mysticgeek

    @Pavel Chikulaev: You’re right about the forward / rewind and track length problems. I updated the article to include that. I was so excited that my FLAC collection was playing in WMP & WMC that I didn’t catch it. Hopefully someone might have a solution for this? We will definitely keep looking.

  3. Grant

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just use VLC?

  4. calebstein

    @Grant: yes, but this article is about how to do it with WMP 12.

  5. Joesph

    @Grant: WMP12 is great player, better looking than VLC for sure. So why not try?

  6. Doctor

    nah VLC is my “player of choice” :)

  7. Thiago

    Dream Theater and Alice In Chains rulez :P

  8. tommy2rs

    Let’s see, using a crippled patch on a crippled piece of software versus using a piece of software that just works. Should be a no-brainer there.

  9. ferr

    Bonus points for Dream Theater!!!

  10. omlet

    DT rules!

  11. Garry

    Informative article thanks. I gather you were only using WMP to play on or from your PC. I am interested in using an AV receiver with Network Audio support to stream FLAC files from a Windows 7 PC to the receiver.

    Have you tried this?

  12. Mojeer

    Thank you!

  13. Azno

    Thanks for this article. I’ll check if this solution allow you to play flac through MediaCenter Extenders. If this still doesn’t work, I think I’ll need to find another lossless codec more compatible with M$ stuffs…

  14. TwisterWes

    I tried installing this codec with Windows 7 64 and it didn’t work. Maybe I messed up when I installed it and Windows told me that the program may not have installed correctly and asked me whether I want to use Recommended Settings, which I did. Sooo, I did more research and stumbled upon another Directshow codec called Illiminable OGG Directshow Filter. After I installed that one, my Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center started playing FLAC correctly. Tag plugin above worked just fine. Hope this helps. Of course, the rewind and tracks still don’t work in FLAC, with WMC or WMP, if you have only one FLAC file, with all the tracks in it. If someone has a way to enable that, please do let us know.

    Why I don’t like VLC, though it will play anything you throw at it, you won’t see normal cover art in a way you can in WMP, just a small thumbnail. Now, when they fix that and enable at least 300×300 cover art view in Playlist mode, I will switch to them when playing audio files.

  15. Mobster

    I found that adding the FLAC directory to the Music Library Locations didn’t pick up the files for me. I did two additional steps, I first associated .flac files with WMP, then I added the FLAC directory (from a network location) to WMP using drag-drop. All good now thanks :-)

  16. ram

    thanks, it runs on my 64bit win 7….

    HAPPY HOLIDAY TO YOU AND YOUR LOVE ONE!

  17. Anatoli

    I got everything working – rewind, fast forward, next and previous. I am using WMP v12.0.7600 on Windows 7 x64. I created a playlist with a set of flack files and playing them as I would mp3′s. The only thing is missing is when you select flac files and right click them there is no “Play” option in submenu. Thanks for the article. Works for me.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYBODY!!!

    Anatoli

  18. Paul

    I have had no luck whatsoever running install.bat. I get a quick flicker of what looks like a black box and then nothing.

  19. Glen

    Thanks for this awesome tutorial! It works great in 64-bit WMP 12 and Windows 7. I’m using WMP Tag Plus as the tag support. One difference in Win 7 is the Application Data direct has been changed to AppData.

  20. Hosea123

    TwisterWes How about a link for the fix?

  21. Markant

    tnx

  22. Richard G

    I know this is an old article but I suggest using the plugin “WMP Tag Plus” created by BM-productions rather than “M4a/FLAC/reallylongname from SoftPointer”, I’m using it + MadFlac on WMP 12 Flac play fine with all information INCLUDING length so you can once again ff rw or skip to any position on the track.

    Good luck all ^_^

  23. Suman

    Just download and install VLC player. Nothing else required.

  24. Steve

    Great – WMP will play Flac just fine however I’m streaming to WDTVLIVE but WMP won’t stream FLAC files – even though it will do it locally

    Has anyone found a solution to this?

  25. Warren

    Thank you. Worked perfectly!

  26. Weinerschnitzel

    Thank you for that. Oh, and nice taste in music.

  27. 01smicha

    Winamp plays FLACs well, and it stores all your music really nicely.

    Thanks for this though, I have been looking for a way to play my FLACs through my Xbox 360 with WMC!

  28. BDC

    Dream Theatre Blows!

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