Kraftwerk is just out of my reach!
December 30, 2008 2:49 AM   Subscribe

How can I change file extensions on a group of files "in bulk", specifically from .flac to .mp3? Keywords: iTunes, Mac, OS X.

I just downloaded the entire Kraftwerk ouvre via BitTorrent. Hooray. However, are of the files are ".flac" and I need to change them to .mp3 to be able to add them to my iTunes library (right now iTunes won't add them). There are over 60 songs in the BitTorrent file. Any way can highlight all of them and change all of the file extensions at once?

posted by anonymous to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you just need to change the filenames or do you also want to convert the contents from flac to mp3?
posted by curious_yellow at 3:00 AM on December 30, 2008

Try switch.
posted by tractorfeed at 3:01 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Changing the file extensions is likely not going to help you much, since all you'll end up with is a bunch of flac-encoded files wrongly identified as MP3's. You will need to transcode them from flac to some format that iTunes understands. Since flac is a lossless compression format, and preserves all the original digital goodness that originally came off the CD, you may want to transcode to Apple Lossless format, which iTunes will understand. On the other hand, if your main use for the iTunes copies is going to be using them with a portable media player, you will probably want to transcode to a lossy format like AAC or MP3 to get better compression.

Exactly how you go about doing the transcode depends on the operating system you're using. Which is it?
posted by flabdablet at 3:03 AM on December 30, 2008

I'm guessing they're using Max OSX.
posted by jacalata at 3:51 AM on December 30, 2008

Try Max, a free audio encoding program, it should do what you need.
posted by Nooster at 4:11 AM on December 30, 2008

Best bet is probably the X lossless decoder, which will allow you to convert your .flac files to .m4a, i.e. apple lossless, which itunes and ipod can handle, while keeping all the original digital goodness at the same quality. Alternatively, if you need the space, you can transcode them to the smaller mp3s instead, but at the cost of throwing away some of the digital information.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:12 AM on December 30, 2008

Claudius, I use Foobar2000, but it is Windows only. It is my favorite music player ever.

On Linux I use Amarok, which you can also get to run natively on OSX. I have used its iPod syncing on Linux but not on OSX, though, so I can't vouch for it personally. It's worth trying to ditch iTunes, in my opinion.

Apparently Songbird also can sync with the iPod. I've not used it, but again, anything is worth trying to break free of Apple's horrible, bloated, slow, featureless, unintuitive lock-in. Songbird can also run on OSX.

Finally, the OP could also use any decent audio player combined with an iPod manager like Floola. Floola works on most everything, converts most any kind of music file automagically, and can be stored on the iPod itself. Again, I don't have personal experience with it on OSX because I don't use OSX. (I use gtkpod on Linux.)

There are probably at least a few more quality options out there.

namewithoutwords, I don't know of an online retailer that sells digital music in FLAC format only and distributes via bittorrent. Assuming there is such a store, this raises the question as to why the OP would purchase files with a funky name he did not recognize. Also assuming there is such a store, please tell me what it's called so that I can begin using it for my music purchases.

That said, I said it "appears." I don't know. Maybe he did use this magical music store. But, were gambling legal in my jurisdiction, I would certainly bet $5 on your theory not being the case. This may just be me being cynical.

As for downloading music that you already own, well, that is an interesting legal question (certainly I don't see anything morally wrong with it, but that doesn't mean it would be viewed as kosher by the courts). Either way, assuming (again, this is just the most likely scenario as I see it; this magical store may exist) he did download it via bittorrent, he also likely allowed others to download it from him in the process, which is currently the very certainly civilly liable part in the US.

Finally, the OP appears to be in Germany, where something similar to those laws likely do apply, but of course I'm not familiar with German law so I don't quite know for sure.

Sorry for the derail. And OP, if I'm wrong, then of course I do apologize for making an unfounded assumption. It just seems to me to be the most likely scenario by a mile, and I was trying to give you a friendly reminder that you are not anonymous on the internet any time someone has a log of your IP address, which is almost always.

posted by Nonce at 6:14 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Claudius - I use VLC for music playback on my Mac. There's finally a Library feature in the newest build, so it can actually remember what music I've added to it. Far as I was concerned it was about the only thing missing, and it handles pretty much any file format you can throw at it.

I still use iTunes to organize and load music onto my iPod, but VLC has become my go-to program for playback, same as Winamp is when I'm on my XP box at home. iTunes is just too goddamn bloated for simple music playback.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:19 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you just want to change the extension, leverage the built in Unix shell that OS X is built on. Open a console, change to your directory, and use this guide. You should be able to do it with one command.

If you actually need to change the encoding, I believe this is answered above.
posted by teabag at 6:31 AM on December 30, 2008

Mod note: a few comments removed - bittorrent side discussion can happen over email or MeTa
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:01 AM on December 30, 2008

I use Max all the time to convert Flac files to Apple Lossless files which can be used in iTunes.
posted by alidarbac at 7:09 AM on December 30, 2008

@Nonce: Amorok no longer requires you to install anything else; you can get the full download here.
posted by shownomercy at 7:20 AM on December 30, 2008

I agree with teabag that the easiest way to do a batch rename in OS X, should that ever be required, is to use the shell (bash) via the Terminal. But the guide he linked to was not written by somebody who understands the shell, and it shows. The commands given there are way more complicated than they need to be. Here are much easier ways to achieve the same results. As a bonus, these commands still work fine for file names containing spaces or quotes or other odd characters.

# change .htm files to .html
for f in *.htm; do mv "$f" "$f"l; done

# change .html files to .htm
for f in *.html; do mv "$f" "${f%l}"; done

#change .html files to .shtml
for f in *.html; do mv "$f" "${f%html}"shtml; done

#change .html files to php
for f in *.html; do mv "$f" "${f%html}"php; done

Once again, these commands only rename files. They do not change their contents. If you use commands like these to rename a bunch of .flac files to .mp3, you will not end up with valid MP3 files; what you will get is flac files with misleading names.
posted by flabdablet at 7:38 AM on December 30, 2008

Nthing that you need to transcode your FLAC files, not change the files' names.

Here is a short and simple article on using the free xACT application to transcode your files. xACT is simple and fast, and possibly easier to use than some of the other applications that were suggested here. I don't think you need to emulate Amarok (or start using it instead of iTunes) to solve this problem.
posted by Third at 8:24 AM on December 30, 2008

Follow-up from the OP
Thanks to you all for a whole range of great suggestions - this gives me a bunch of options and approaches to try out.
posted by jessamyn at 8:34 AM on December 30, 2008

Suggesting that the "easiest" way to batch rename files in OS X is through bash one-liners in the Terminal is utterly ridiculous.

Though renaming extensions won't help the OP like he/she thinks it might, if you wanted to do this en masse in OSX, all you'd need is Name Mangler by ManyTricks software. It's free, and works perfectly and quickly.
posted by melorama at 9:14 AM on December 30, 2008

Googling "FLAC+iTunes" comes up with many ways to get iTunes to play flac. This way you won't have to subvert Kraftwerk's tasty lossless goodness.
posted by anazgnos at 9:38 AM on December 30, 2008

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