I have a lot of music encoded in Apple Lossless (ALAC), but Google Play Music doesn’t seem to support it. Instead Google Play Music supports FLAC, but iTunes doesn’t support it.

I don’t care how encoded my music are, but want to encode these without any loss. How do you guys manage your lossless music using iTunes + Google Play Music? I believe it’s not only my problem.

Edit: Okay, I finally gave up, and encoded my all files encoded in ALAC/FLAC to normal AAC. There seems no way to use both at a time as of now.

  • 1
    From a business perspective it seems like it's not really in Google's (or Apple's) best interest to support this kind of interoperability. They both want you using their respective music stores. I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there is no easy way to do this. Sep 2, 2012 at 15:40
  • Are you married to iTunes? you may want to consider some alternatives and liberate your existing music... these guys are shilling their product, but this is a good article: wondershare.com/apple-software/free-alternatives-to-itunes.html If you are a Windows user of iTunes, it's pretty clunky and there are better alternatives...
    – Kendor
    Sep 2, 2012 at 23:29
  • @Kendor I currently am a Mac user, and there are some reasons why I cannot switched from iTunes to other alternatives. (I tried Banshee, etc before).
    – minhee
    Sep 3, 2012 at 8:44
  • 4
    The short answer: Apple hates you. You might also take a look at this question.
    – SaintWacko
    Sep 4, 2012 at 13:09
  • ALAC is now open-sourced, so it may be a matter of time till Android support it: alac.macosforge.org/trac/browser Sep 11, 2012 at 22:28

3 Answers 3


First are you talking about storing the music on your Android device or on the Google servers?

If you are planning on streaming music to your device from the Google Music Play servers then you can't store your music in a lossless format see this page about formats on Google Play Music, and notice this line:

FLAC, ogg, and aac files are transcoded to 320kbps mp3

However, if you want to store the music locally on your device then your question makes more sense.

There are a few ways to put ALAC music on your Android device in FLAC

  1. Keep your library in ALAC and convert songs to FLAC as you want them. Then move the new FLAC files to your device. A program like Max should be able to handle the conversion for you.

  2. Convert all of your ALAC files to FLAC in place and then use fluke to enable FLAC playback support in itunes.

What option you select depends on how much you like to keep your OS free of plugins like fluke and how ofter you are moving music to and from your device.

  • Google Play Music site says it supports .m4a. I'm having trouble playing my ALAC files that are locally on my Nexus 5. support.google.com/googleplay/answer/1100462 so I'm assuming it supports .m4a only if you've uploaded them to Google's servers which then convert them to mp3? I'm not really sure but I can't seem to get them to play locally. I don't want to upload my music to Google's servers..just play them locally when I'm in my car. Any advice?
    – fady
    Feb 27, 2014 at 4:54

As has been established in other answers, Google's Play Music program does not support files in ALAC. However, the M4A extension is used by several supported formats so Play Music will attempt to add these files to its library. Unfortunately, when Play Music actually tries to play these files, it causes errors. One solution (mentioned above) is to re-encode the files into a supported format.

If you want to keep ALAC files on your device for use by other players, you will need to prevent Google Play from seeing your ALAC/M4A files. After considerable research (and a fruitless exchange with Google Support), I discovered that Play Music will respect ".nomedia" files. When a .nomedia file is placed in a folder, the media scanner will ignore (recursively) that folder. While there are several techniques for putting .nomedia files in place (e.g. this list), StudioKUMA's .nomedia Manager is by far the easiest.

WARNING: While this approach is able to hide the ALAC files from Play Music, it may hide your ALAC files from the player you want to use. In my case, Rocket Music Player provides the option (1) to limit the library to specific music folders and (2) to ignore .nomedia files in those folders. This combination (for me at least) allowed me to keep and use my ALAC files without breaking Play Music (which I use to access older MP3s synced to the cloud).

  • The behaviour with .nomedia files may have changed in one of the later Android versions. Which version are your findongs based upon?
    – ce4
    Jun 23, 2013 at 22:08
  • I'm uncertain what version I was using when I first answered the question, but it seems to remain true for Android 4.3 and Google Music v5.4.1413 on my Galaxy S4.
    – claytond
    Apr 7, 2014 at 0:11

Where do you got your music files? If you rip them from a CD you can rip again to WAV. I think both iTunes and Android Player support it and WAV is better than FLAC or ALAC, though is bigger size.

If you insist keeping your current format, you can always try another player like FLAC Player or Golden Ears for iPod/iPhone/iPad, or Poweramp for Android.

I personally use FLAC Player in my iPod and Poweramp in a Sony NWZ-Z1060 (Android walkman).

My current format for portable is FLAC and for Desktop is WAV. I'm an audiophile, so I'm very sensitive about file format. I still prefer FLAC for portable because the size difference between FLAC/ALAC and WAV is very huge.

  • 1
    I did not downvote, but I understand why this was downvoted. "WAV is better than FLAC or ALAC, though is bigger size" - This is not accurate information. FLAC and ALAC will produce the exact same audio quality as WAV. That is why they are called "lossless". The only ways WAV files can be considered "better" is if the computer playing them can't decode the audio stream fast enough for the losslessly compressed audio files (yet can somehow deal with the difference in file size), or if you are running into compatibility/file type support issues. Sep 13, 2012 at 2:54
  • And... I very much doubt you can tell the difference between a a piece of music in lossless format and a reasonably encoded mp3 version of the same track. Arguably 256kbit MP3s are 'better' than FLAC or WAV as you won't be able to hear a difference between them and they take up much less space ;¬)
    – pelms
    Feb 27, 2014 at 17:38

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