Playing FLAC files in WMP & Media Center

Works with Windows 7 Play To on extenders!

Currently Windows Media Player and Media Center don’t include native file support for a number of lossless audio codecs including FLAC, OGG, and basically anything other than Microsoft’s own WMA files. There is a cure for this minor omission though so no worries.

First, as always, we have to make sure we have the proper codecs for windows to play back these files. Codecs for both x64 and x86 versions of windows can be found at Xiph’s open source site. The files linked above are the latest versions available at the time of this post but you should check Xiph’s page to check for updated versions.

Once you have the proper codecs installed it’s time to get them to show up in the Music Library. The most convenient way to manage your Music Library in Media Center is through Windows Media Player 12. Changes made to your Music Library in WMP will be reflected in Media Center and it provides a relatively simple GUI for manipulating your files.

If you have already established your WMP Music Library it may be necessary to clear your Music Library before this fix will take effect. The most effective way to clear your WMP libraries is to remove your albums from inside WMP by selecting them and pressing delete. Be sure when prompted you select the option to “Remove from Library only” so you don’t lose all your songs! There is also and option under “Tools > Options > Library Tab” that should be unchecked before clearing your library inside of WMP.

Windows Media Player Delete Library

Close WMP and navigate Windows Explorer to “C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Media Player” then delete the file “CurrentDatabase_371.wmdb” contained inside. You may need to stop the WMP Network Sharing service by going through Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services and selecting the service and stopping it in order to delete the main WMP database.

Now, one more step before we reopen WMP to check our new Library for FLAC files, download and install the WMP Tag Support Extender plug-in. This will enable files with FLAC (and other) extensions to be picked up by the Library. Next we can finally reopen WMP.

Enable FLAC Support in WMP

Once you’re back inside WMP go to “Tools > Plugins” and ensure that the WMP Tag Support Extender plug-in is enabled. Once it has been enabled select your Music Library. Your music should begin to repopulate the Music Library, this may take some time to complete. Once you’re sure the process has finished, find your artists that you have FLAC files under and verify they are indeed there. Once you can see your newly supported files inside WMP they should also be included in your Media Center Library as well, have fun!

Note: Certain aspects of these files will still not be displayed properly, such as the length of the files. Also, Check out our guide on playing MKVs in Windows 7 Media Center!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this! However, for complete clarity, you should say to download AND INSTALL the WMP Tag Support Extender plug-in.
Keep up the good work.

MHealy said...

Thanks for pointing that out! I've updated the article to include that the WMP Tag Extender plug-in should be installed after it has been downloaded.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I have my CD's as a single flac file. WMC only shows each cd as 1 track and doesn't show the embedded cover art. Any suggestions?

MHealy said...

Unfortunately, WMP and WMC don't currently support the .cue files to retrieve the track information from single flac files. There may be a possible work around using the MKV container but MKV would have to be added as an audio type. I'll look into it and post a guide if I can figure it out properly.

As for flac album covers I believe this is a bug that is being currently being fixed by Microsoft. Once it is a folder.jpg file in the album directory should give you album art.

Anonymous said...

The codecs works with WMP32/64 but WMP Tag Support Extender Plug-in only works with WMP32. And the writer of the WMPTSEP does not have a 64bit version of Windows...

However funny thing is that with only the 64 flac codec and WMPTSE installed, they can be handled in WMP32, but it refuses to play them. They does however show up in WMP64 with art and all and can be played just fine :-) Must be some shared library.

MHealy said...

Yes, the library of WMP is shared with both 32 and 64 bit versions as well as Media Center. Changes made in any of these applications will be reflected in the rest. By this method using the plug-in through WMP x32 you can add the flac files to the library which can then be played in any of the applications as long as you have the correct codecs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I would not call it a minor omission that it does not support free and open source file formats. I would not call it easy to set up your MCE Media Center player by going through Windows Media Player. I would call it a royal pain in the ass. Again thanks to all who have taken their valuable time to make this possible. Pretty much, no thanks to Microsoft

sergyver said...

In win media 12 a 64bits not working

betterpluse said...

You can follow the step by step guide to convert the unsupported Blu ray Discs, AU, FLV, MOV, MP4 to Windows Media Player supported audio or video format.
http://www.avdshare.com/flac-to-windows-media-player-converter

Better Grown said...

I use the following method to play FLAC in Windows Media Player:
https://www.idealshare.net/audio-converter/play-flac-in-windows-media-player.html

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