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 synchronization or syncing.

Picture of Windows Media Player
Syncing music to a device in Windows Media Player

There are two methods for syncing items to a device: automatically or manually. 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.

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About automatic sync

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

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

For example, if you rip a CD to your library, that album will automatically be copied to your device the next time you connect it the device to your computer. Likewise, if you delete items from your 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 will automatically sync to it. For more information, see "To choose what syncs automatically" later in this topic.

About manual sync

If the storage capacity of your device is less than 4 GB or if your entire 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. Start the Player, turn on your device, and then connect it to your computer. If prompted, select the AutoPlay 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 automatically sync every time you connect it to your computer while Windows Media Player is running.

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

  3. For automatic sync, if you want to sync only a portion of your library, you can choose what will sync automatically. For more information, see "To choose what syncs automatically" later in this topic.

To choose what syncs automatically

Even 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 sync to your device every time you connect it to your computer while Windows Media Player is running. Here's how to choose what will sync:

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

  2. In Windows Media Player, click the arrow below the Sync tab, point to the device, and then click Set Up Sync.

  3. In the Available playlists list, select the existing playlists you want to sync and then click Add.

  4. To create a playlist, click Create 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 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 sync is complete, files and playlists that are lower in the list might not sync.

    • 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) is added. 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.

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. In Windows Media Player, click the arrow below the Sync tab, point to the device, and then click Set Up Sync.

  3. Clear or select the Sync this device automatically check box.

  4. 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 syncs automatically" earlier 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.