What are options to play FLAC files and have playlists on OSX? I've not seen a way to make iTunes play them natively, songbird looks terrible with retina display and same goes for clementine.

I just switched to osx from linux and I was hoping I wouldnt have to go back to CMUS.

  • 2
    If you could elaborate why CMUS is not desirable in terms of objective features, it might add to people's ability to make a recommendation. As it stands, anyone stepping forward has to guess what you want. A survey of the existing answers shows most are subjective. Also, the leading answer to avoid FLAC entirely opens you to the best players on OS X if you decide no player is suitable. – bmike Apr 13 '13 at 10:58
  • A related Q&A: "Looking for a lightweight MP3 player for OS X" Quite a few of the suggestions there will work here, too (in 2019!). – Dɑvïd Aug 17 '19 at 15:06

I hope you have a secondary storage solution for FLAC audio files. I do :). I understand the allure of FLAC, I do everything I can to get my media in FLAC or at least some lossless format that I archive. There are a lot of benefits to keeping lossless files around, but playing them via any conventional player is (in my own opinion, of course) not one of them.

I use Max to convert my FLAC files to Variable 256Kbit AAC audio.

Max format settings window

Once that's done, I archive the FLAC files elsewhere, and import the converted files into iTunes. Sweet, compatible, bliss.

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    You could also use Max to convert FLAC -> ALAC as answered by maseth. – Jason Salaz Apr 8 '13 at 16:41
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    I'm also just converting FLAC to AAC, but I use ffmpeg for it: brew install ffmpeg parallel; find . -name \*.flac | parallel ffmpeg -i {} -aq 170 {.}.m4a. – Lri Apr 9 '13 at 8:30
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    parallel? Oh man, this is amazing. – Jason Salaz Apr 9 '13 at 21:15

Apartment Therapy has a decent roundup of non-iTunes music players for OS X. Unfortunately they don't seem to be updated terribly often, so you may not have much luck finding any with Retina support. iTunes' prevalence sort of crushes the rest of the market for music players, so the options are fairly limited.

An alternative would be to use X Lossless Decoder to convert from FLAC to Apple Lossless, which would allow you to use iTunes (not to mention any other Apple device). The beauty of lossless formats is of course that you can convert without any degradation, so why not take advantage of that?


I use VLC. It's free, supports a long-list of file formats (including FLAC), has a decent interface and will allow you to create playlists.

This is a list of currently supported file formats:

VLC playback Features


Although it isn't updated much I'm using Cog.

More specifically a nighty build.

I find it very stable, simple and refreshing when you compare it to iTunes.


I think you should consider using ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) instead of FLAC. If you convert your tunes to ALAC you will be able to play them in iTunes.

There are lot on converters in the web.


Vox is a great little player !!

  • Can you explain a little more? The questioner wanted to know about retina displays. – jnovack Apr 8 '13 at 19:51

FLACTunes is probably the simplest way to get your FLAC files into iTunes by converting them to Apple Lossless.

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