Sync your digital media to a portable device

Windows Media Player 11 makes it easier than ever to sync (copy) music and video to a wide choice of portable devices, including portable media players, Windows Mobile Smartphones and Pocket PCs, storage cards, and Portable Media Centers. Simply connect a supported device to your computer, set up sync, and you're ready to sync your library of digital media files to your device. To learn more about which devices are compatible with Windows XP, see the Windows Compatibility Center.

Set up your device

When you connect a device for the first time, the Player selects the sync method (automatic or manual) that works best for your device:

  • Automatic. If your device's storage capacity is more than 4 gigabytes (GB) and your entire library can fit on the device, the Player automatically syncs your entire library. You can also choose what syncs automatically by selecting the playlists you want to sync. With this option, the Player syncs your digital media files to the device to mirror your library when you connect it to your computer or when you change sync settings.

  • Manual. With this option, you pick specific files or playlists you want to sync each time you want to make changes to the digital media files on your device, and you manually remove files from your device.

After your device is set up the first time, if you want to, you can switch between automatic and manual sync.

To set up a device

  1. Start the Player, turn on your device, and then connect your device to your computer. If prompted, select the option to sync the device using Windows Media Player.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • If the Player has selected to sync your device automatically, click Finish. When you do so, the Player will sync your entire library to your device. After that, your device will sync every time you connect it to your computer.

    • If the Player has selected to sync your device manually, click Finish. Then, in the Sync tab, you must select the files and playlists you want to sync manually.

    The Player adds the device to the Navigation pane with all of the default categories found in the library, as shown in the following screen shot.

    Screen shot of a portable device in the Navigation pane

Choose and prioritize what syncs automatically

If your device syncs automatically, you don't have to sync your entire library. Instead, you can choose from existing playlists or create new playlists of files that you want to sync. The playlists you select will then sync to your device every time you connect it to your computer.

To choose what syncs automatically

  1. Click the arrow below the Sync tab, point to the name of the device, and then click Set Up Sync, as shown in the following screen shot.

    Screen shot of the Set Up Sync command
  2. The Device Setup dialog box appears, as shown in the following screen shot.

    Screen shot of the Device Setup dialog box
  3. In the Available playlists list, select the existing playlists you want to sync and then click Add.

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

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

  6. Do one of the following:

    • In the Playlists to sync list, select a playlist, one at a time, and click the Priority arrows to arrange them in the order that you want them to sync, as shown in the following screen shot. If your device fills up before sync is complete, files and playlists that are lower in priority on the list may not sync. You can also monitor how much remaining space is available on the device from this list.

      Screen shot of the Playlists to sync list
    • Select the Shuffle what syncs check box if you want the Player to shuffle the files that are in the playlists you have selected to sync. With 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) are added to the device. This option is useful if you have a device with limited storage capacity, you like to rotate through your music, or if your library has grown too large to fit on your device.

Select and shuffle items with manual sync

If you sync manually, you must create a list of files and playlists you want to sync each time you want to make changes to the files on your device, and you must manually remove files from your device. You can also use the Player to shuffle which songs from your playlists sync to your device.

To select items to sync manually

  1. Start the Player, turn on and connect your device to your computer, and then click the Sync tab.

  2. If you need to clear the List pane before beginning, click the Clear List pane button Picture of the Clear List pane button.
  3. If more than one device is connected, in the Navigation pane, click the device you want to sync.

  4. Drag items such as files, albums, and playlists to the List pane to add them to the list of items to sync, as shown in the following screen shot.

    Screen shot of the Sync List

    To select multiple adjacent items, press and hold the SHIFT key while selecting. To select nonadjacent items, press and hold the CTRL key while selecting.

  5. To remove items, select one or more items in the List pane, and then click Remove from List, as shown in the following screen shot.

    Screen shot of the Remove from List option
  6. In the List pane, verify that the items you have selected to sync will all fit on the device, as shown in the following screen shot. If necessary, remove items from the list.

    Screen shot of the space remaining control
  7. Click Start Sync.

To shuffle manual sync items on a device

  1. Start the Player, turn on and connect your device to your computer, and then click the Sync tab.

  2. Click the arrow below the Sync tab, point to the device, and then click Shuffle, as shown in the following screen shot.

    Screen shot of the Shuffle command

    —or—

    In the List pane, click Shuffle music to have the Player automatically add a shuffled set of songs from your library to the List pane, as shown in the following screen shot.

    Screen shot of the link to add a shuffled set of songs to the playlist
  3. Add or remove any songs you want, and then click Shuffle Now.

Switching between automatic and manual sync

Once you have set up a device for the first time, you can switch between automatic or manual sync for the device, depending on your preference.

To switch between automatic and manual sync

  1. Click the arrow below the Sync tab, point to the device, and then click Set Up Sync.

  2. Select or clear the Sync this device automatically check box.

  3. Do one of the following: