Dial tunes

Put music on your Windows phone

By Matt Lichtenberg

Getting out of the house in the morning just got a little easier for me. I used to juggle my keys, wallet, cell phone, and MP3 player on my way out the door. Now I can leave my MP3 player at home. Using my Windows phone with a memory card, I can take hundreds of my favorite songs with me and listen to music while reading my e-mail messages or browsing the web—all on one device.

Picture of Windows phone with music playing
My Windows phone with music playing

More storage space means more music

One of the great things about my new Windows phone is that I can add more storage space simply by inserting a flash memory card. That’s it. Windows phones typically use either microSD or miniSD memory cards—depending on the smartphone model. The illustration that follows shows a miniSD card and a microSD card next to a regular Secure Digital (SD) card (which some, although not as many, smartphone models use), so you can get an idea about just how small these memory cards are.

Picture showing SD, miniSD, and microSD flash memory cards
To add more storage space to your smartphone, just snap the memory card into the phone

My smartphone has a microSD slot. I’m currently using a spacious 4-GB, microSD memory card to store music on my smartphone from CDs that I ripped on my desktop computer (for information about ripping CDs, see Rip music from a CD).

Making my music mobile

When I first got my smartphone, I needed to figure out how to get music from my laptop computer to my phone. I quickly learned that I had two options:

  • Option 1: Connect my phone and computer using a USB cable

    1. Insert my memory card into my smartphone.

    2. Use the USB cable that came with my smartphone to connect my smartphone to my computer.

    3. Use Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista to sync music to the memory card in my smartphone.

  • Option 2: Sync music directly to the memory card in my computer

    1. Insert my memory card into the SD adapter that came with the memory card.

    2. Insert the memory card into the memory card reader on my laptop.

    3. Use Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista to sync music to the memory card in my laptop.

    4. Insert my memory card into my smartphone.

I usually go with the second option because I typically can’t find the USB cable when I need it, or I don’t have it with me. And this option is quick. However, I do use the first option occasionally when I want to sync songs I bought online that are protected with media usage rights. (If you try to sync protected songs using the second option, the songs won’t play on your smartphone because the media usage rights will be missing.)

Sometimes the hardest part for me is deciding what music I want to listen to during my commute on the bus. Fortunately, because my memory card holds so many songs, I don’t have to pick just a few artists or albums anymore. I can take hundreds of songs with me now, so I have a lot of different music on my smartphone.

To get music onto a memory card, open Windows Media Player 11 on your computer, and then start syncing music:

  1. In Windows Media Player 11, click the Sync tab.

  2. Drag songs, albums, or playlists to the List pane to add them to the list of music you want to sync.

    Picture of Windows Media Player 11 that shows adding music to sync to a memory card
    Using Windows Media Player 11 to add music to sync to my memory card
  3. Make sure that all of the music will fit on the memory card, and then click Start Sync.

If I add songs that I later decide I don’t want on the memory card, they’re easy to delete. Under Removable Disk, click Artist or Album, select the unwanted songs, and then press DELETE.

After I sync music to the memory card, I just eject the SD card adapter from the SD slot, remove the microSD card from the adapter, and then put the microSD card back in my smartphone. I try to do this immediately, so I don’t lose this tiny card.

Keep in mind that this is only one of a few different ways to sync music to a flash memory card or a device in Windows Media Player 11. There are other options ranging from syncing random songs (see Sync manually in Windows Media Player) to setting up sync partnerships so music is synced automatically (see Set up a device to sync in Windows Media Player). You might want to try a few different ways, and then see what works best for you.

Sitting back and enjoying the ride

Now I can sit back on the bus, listen to my favorite music, and forget about the hectic Seattle traffic. I just plug in the headphones that came with my smartphone, and start playing music in Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, which is a feature of Windows Mobile. To play music using Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, see How to listen to music and watch videos on the Microsoft website.

While I’m listening to music on my smartphone, I can also get a little work done by going through e-mail messages, or I can just browse the web. And perhaps the best part, I can do it all from one device. No more scrambling for my phone in my bag when I’m listening to music like I used to do with my MP3 player. With my smartphone, the music pauses automatically when a call comes in, so I can answer it. (My wife likes this, too, because I actually hear my phone ring now and answer it before it goes to voicemail.) And when the call ends, music starts playing from where it paused.

Just the beginning of many music choices

Listening to music ripped from CDs is just the beginning. I can also use my Windows phone to play music from mobile websites, such as Windowsmedia.com. Or I can choose from a great selection of streaming radio stations, such as some of those listed on the Mobile Stream Center website.

I can also use my smartphone to play my favorite audio podcasts. (To find podcasts on a Windows phone, see Finding great podcast content on the Microsoft website.)

With my new smartphone, I have a lot of different music to choose from. Well, it’s time for me to find some music, sit back and relax, and get home.

About the author


Picture of columnist Matt Lichtenberg

Matt Lichtenberg is a writer on the Windows team at Microsoft. Before joining the company in 2000, he worked as a computer trainer and then attended Miami University (Ohio) where he received a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. In 2006, he and his colleagues won the Society for Technical Communication’s International Online Communication Competition for their work on the Windows Media Workshops.

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