Getting started with Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player provides an intuitive, easy-to-use interface to play digital media files, organize your digital media collection, burn CDs of your favorite music, rip music from CDs, sync digital media files to a portable device, and shop for digital media content from online stores.

Start Windows Media Player

To start Windows Media Player, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Media Player .

Two ways to enjoy your media: the Player Library and Now Playing mode

Windows Media Player allows you to toggle between two modes: the Player Library, which gives you comprehensive control over the Player's many features; and Now Playing mode, which gives you a simplified view of your media that's ideal for playback.

From the Player Library, you can go to Now Playing mode by clicking the Switch to Now Playing button Picture of the Switch to Now Playing mode button in the lower-right corner of the Player. To return to the Player Library, click the Switch to Library button Picture of the Switch to Library button in the upper-right corner of the Player.
Picture of the Player Library
Player Library

In the Player Library, you can access and organize your digital media collection. Within the navigation pane, you can choose a category, such as Music, Pictures, or Videos, to view in the details pane. For example, to see all of your music organized by genre, double-click Music, and then click Genre. Then, drag items from the details pane to the list pane to create playlists, burn CDs or DVDs, or sync to devices, such as portable music players.

As you move between the various views in the Player Library, you can use the Back and Forward buttons in the upper-left corner of the Player to retrace your steps.

Picture of the Back and Forward buttons
Back and Forward buttons

In Now Playing mode, you can view DVDs and videos or see what music is currently playing. You can decide to view only the currently playing item, or you can right-click the Player, and then click Show list to view a selection of available items.

Picture of Now Playing mode
Now Playing mode

To find out more about the tasks you can perform in the Player Library and in Now Playing mode, click the links under the following sections:

Play from the taskbar

You can also control the Player when it's minimized. You can play or pause the current item, advance to the next item, and go back to the previous item using the controls in the thumbnail preview. The thumbnail preview appears when you point to the Windows Media Player icon on the taskbar.

Build a media library

Windows Media Player looks for files in specific Windows libraries on your computer to add to the Player Library: Music, Videos, Pictures, and Recorded TV.

To build your media library, you can include folders in the libraries from other locations on your computer or external devices, such as a portable hard drive. For more information about adding files to the Player Library, see Add items to the Windows Media Player Library.

Rip CDs to create digital music files

You can add music to the Player Library by using your computer's CD drive to copy CDs and store them on your computer as digital files. This process is known as ripping.

Picture of ripping in progress
Ripping a music CD

For more about ripping CDs, see Rip music from a CD.

Use tabs to complete key tasks

The tabs at the top right of the Player open the list pane in the Player Library, making it easier for you to focus on specific tasks, such as creating playlists of your favorite songs, burning custom song lists to a recordable CD, or syncing playlists in your media library to a portable media player.

Picture of the Play, Burn, and Sync tabs
Play, Burn, and Sync tabs

To get started, click the tab that corresponds to the task you want to perform in the Player Library. To hide the list pane, click the tab that is currently open.

To find out what you can do on each tab, click the links under the following sections:


The list below the Play tab reflects the items currently playing and the items you've selected to play in the Player Library. For example, if you selected a specific album to play, the entire album will appear in the Play tab.

You can also use the Play tab to create and save custom playlists. For more information about creating playlists, see Create or change a regular playlist in Windows Media Player.


If you want to listen to a mix of music while you're away from your computer, you can burn CDs containing any combination of music. For example, you can burn audio CDs with the Player and play them in any standard CD player. Use the Burn tab to do any of the following:

Picture of burning a CD in progress
Burning a CD


You can use the Player to sync music, videos, and pictures to a wide range of portable devices, including portable media players, storage cards, and some mobile phones. To do this, just connect a supported device to your computer and the Player will select the sync method (automatic or manual) that is best for your device. Then, you can sync files and playlists in your Player Library to your device. Use this tab to do any of the following:

If you’re having trouble using Windows Media Player, you can try using the Windows Media Player Settings troubleshooter to automatically find and fix some common problems.

Open the Windows Media Player Settings troubleshooter by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting. Click View all, and then click Windows Media Player Settings.

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