You can use Windows Media Player to copy music, videos, and pictures from your Player Library to a portable device, such as a compatible MP3 player. This process is called syncing.

Picture of a sync in progress
Syncing a device

There are two methods you can use to sync items to a device. One is automatic and the other is manual. When you connect a device to your computer for the first time, Windows Media Player selects the sync method that works best for your device, depending on the device's storage capacity and the size of your Player Library. After your device is set up the first time, you can choose a different sync method if you want.

For more information about the Player Library, see Getting started with Windows Media Player.

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About automatic sync

If your device's storage capacity is more than 4 gigabytes (GB), and your entire Player Library can fit on the device, Windows Media Player defaults to automatic sync. If you accept this option, your entire Player Library will be copied to your device.

Every time you connect your device to your computer while Windows Media Player is running, the Player automatically updates the contents of the device to mirror the contents of the Player Library.

For example, if you rip a CD to your Player Library, that album will automatically be copied to your device the next time you connect the device to your computer. Likewise, if you delete items from your Player Library, those items will also be deleted from your device the next time you connect it to your computer.

Even if your device is set up to sync automatically, you can still control which items automatically sync to it.

About manual sync

If the storage capacity of your device is less than 4 gigabytes (GB), or if your entire Player Library can't fit on the device, Windows Media Player defaults to manual sync. If you accept this option, every time you want to add or remove items from the device, you'll have to perform several steps. For more information, see Sync manually in Windows Media Player.

To set up your device

  1. Turn on your device, and then connect it to your computer.

  2. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player.
    If the Player is currently open and you’re in Now Playing mode, click the Switch to Library button Picture of the Switch to Library button in the upper-right corner of the Player.
  3. Then, do one of the following:

    • If the Player has automatically selected to sync your device, click Finish. When you do this, the Player will sync your entire Player Library to your device. After that, your device will automatically sync every time you connect it to your computer while Windows Media Player is running.

      For automatic sync, if you want to sync only a portion of your Player Library, you can choose which media will automatically sync. For more information, see "To choose what files sync automatically" in this topic.

    • If the Player has selected to sync your device manually, click Finish. Then, on the Sync tab, select the files and playlists you want to sync manually. For more information, see Sync manually in Windows Media Player.

To choose what files sync automatically

Even if your device syncs automatically, you don't have to sync your entire Player Library. Instead, you can choose from existing playlists or create new playlists of files that you want to sync. The playlists you select will sync to your device every time you connect it to your computer while Windows Media Player is running. Here's how to choose the files that will sync:

  1. Turn on your device and connect it to your computer.

  2. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player.
    If the Player is currently open and you’re in Now Playing mode, click the Switch to Library button Picture of the Switch to Library button in the upper-right corner of the Player.
  3. In the Player Library, click the Sync tab, click the Sync options button Picture of the Sync options button, and then click Set up sync to open the Device Setup dialog box.
  4. In the Available playlists list, select the existing playlists you want to sync, and then click Add.

    To create a playlist, click New Auto Playlist and follow the steps on the screen to specify criteria for files in the auto playlist.

    To remove a playlist, click the playlist in the Playlists to sync list, and then click Remove.

  5. Do one of the following:

    • If you have a device with limited capacity and you want to increase the likelihood that particular playlists will always get synced to your device, in the Playlists to sync list, select your playlists one at a time and click the Priority arrows to arrange them in the order you want them to sync. If your device fills up before the sync is complete, files and playlists that are lower in the list might not sync.

    • If you want the Player to sync a different set of items to your device every time you connect it to your computer, select the Shuffle what syncs check box. By selecting this option, every time you connect your device, the files on the device are removed and a new set of files (from the playlists in the Playlists to sync list) is added. This option is useful if you have a device with limited storage capacity, if you like to rotate through your music, or if your Player Library has grown too large to fit on your device.

  6. Click Finish.

To switch between automatic and manual sync

After you've set up a device, you can switch to a different sync method at any time. Here's how:

  1. Turn on your device and connect it to your computer.

  2. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player.
    If the Player is currently open and you’re in Now Playing mode, click the Switch to Library button Picture of the Switch to Library button in the upper-right corner of the Player.
  3. In the Player Library, click the Sync tab, click the Sync options button Picture of the Sync options button, and then click Set up sync.
  4. In the Device Setup dialog box, clear or select the Sync this device automatically check box, and then click Finish.

  5. Do one of the following:

    • If you are switching to automatic sync, choose the playlists that you want to sync automatically. For more information, see "To choose what files sync automatically" in this topic.

    • If you are switching to manual sync, choose the files or playlists that you want to sync manually. For more information, see Sync manually in Windows Media Player.