Demo: Burn a CD or DVD

Snapshot from this demo

If your computer includes a CD or DVD recorder, you can copy files to a writeable disc—this is known as burning a disc. Watch this demo to learn how to burn a CD or DVD in Windows Vista.

Read the transcript

When I take a bunch of vacation photos, I usually copy them to a CD or DVD and I send it to my parents. After all, CDs and DVDs are the way we tend to share things with people these days.

Hi. I'm Dave Johnson, a writer on the Windows team here at Microsoft, and today I'm going to show you how to burn files to CD and DVD. It's actually really easy...all you need is a blank disc and a computer that has a recordable drive in it: something that you can use to copy or "burn" files to a CD or DVD.

Now, before we get started, you need to know how you eventually want to use these files. What we're going to make is something that's often called a "data disc." That's a disc that you can share with anyone else that you like. But if what you really want to do with that disc is actually play something...you know, like an audio CD or a video DVD, you'll want to use a more specialized program, something like Windows Media Player or Windows Movie Maker.

To get started, just insert the disc in your computer's recordable disc drive.

The first thing you'll see is AutoPlay. It's going to give you a list of choices based on what you just inserted in the computer. You might see all sorts of things here, but just click the one that says Burn files to disc using Windows.

That'll launch the Burn a Disc dialog box. Ignore the options and just click Next. Don't worry, I'll come back here later and show you the options.

Now, just wait a moment while Windows formats the CD. Windows is preparing the disc so it can store your data. Formatting should only take a few seconds, and then you'll get this empty folder window.

All you have to do now is choose which files you want to copy, and then drag them into the folder window. I want to pick a few photos, so I'm going to go to the Start menu and open the Pictures folder. I'll select a couple of pictures and drag them into the CD folder window. Notice that the files are copied as soon as I drag them in here. Now, let's say that you want to add a few more files to this CD. Just open up the folder you want and drag more files in. So I'll go back to the Pictures folder and choose a few different pictures. Once again, notice I can just select some pictures, drag them into the folder window, and they'll be copied right away, as well.

When you're done, press the eject button on your drive, and Windows will automatically close the session—that means Windows is preparing the disc so it can be used on other computers. You can see the notification here.

Now, if you ever want to add more files to that disc, just put it back in the computer, drag files to the folder window, and eject it when you're done. Windows is automatically going to close the session so you can use the disc in other computers.

That's it! You're done! That disc is going to work great in Windows XP and Windows Vista computers. But if you ever want to use a disc in a different kind of computer, well, then we need to set a different option.

Remember this screen? When you first choose to burn a disc using Windows, click Show Formatting Options. Instead of the default Live File System, this time, click Mastered, and then click Next.

You'll still going to get a folder into which you can drag files, so we'll do it the same way we did last time. I'll go to the Start menu, choose Pictures, and we'll drag a couple of pictures out the Pictures folder onto the CD folder window. When I do that, though, this time notice the notification: it's reminding you that you need to click Burn to disc to finish the CD. So when you're ready, click Burn to Disc, and all the files will get copied to the disc at once. Eject the disc when you're done. Windows won't need to close any sessions this time.

Now, I recommend that you stick with the default method for burning discs almost all the time. It's faster and easier than the "mastered" method we just looked at, and it has other advantages, as well, and you can read about those in Help and Support if you want to learn more.

That's how to burn a data disc using Windows Vista.