You can use Windows Media Player to copy music, pictures, and videos from your library to a blank CD or DVD. This process is known as burning.

Picture of Windows Media Player
Burning a CD in Windows Media Player

There are a number of reasons why you might want to use the Player to burn media files to a disc. For example, if you're planning a long road trip, you might want to select a mix of upbeat songs from your library and burn them to audio CDs that you can play in your car. The songs you choose might be old favorites that you previously ripped from your CD collection or new songs that you recently bought from an online store.

The sections below describe the types of discs you can create in the Player, the equipment and materials you'll need, and step-by-step instructions for burning different kinds of discs.

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Types of discs you can burn

Windows Media Player gives you the option of burning three kinds of discs: audio CDs, data CDs, and data DVDs. The type of disc to use depends on what you want to copy (for example, whether you'll copy only music or a combination of music, videos, and pictures), how much material you want to copy (for example, a single album or dozens of albums), and where you want to play the disc (for example, in a computer or a car CD player).

Disc type Description
Disc type

Audio CD

Description

Ideal for making custom music CDs for playback in any car or home stereo.

  • Content: Music only

  • Capacity: Up to 80 minutes

  • Playback device: Nearly any CD player, including those found in home stereos, car stereos, and computers

Disc type

Data CD

Description

Great option if you have a lot of music and a car CD player that can play WMA files (the type of music file that most people have in their library). Also handy for backing up your media files.

  • Content: Music, pictures, and videos

  • Maximum capacity: About 700 megabytes (roughly 8 hours of music)

  • Playback device: Computers and some CD and DVD players. The device must support the file types that you add to the disc, such as WMA, MP3, JPEG, or Windows Media Video (WMV).

Disc type

Data DVD

Description

Because of its larger capacity, use this type of disc for all the same reasons you would use a data CD if you have a larger volume of files than will fit on a single data CD.

  • Content: Music, pictures, and videos

  • Capacity: About 4.7 gigabytes (roughly 54 hours of music)

  • Playback device: Computers and some DVD players. The device must support the file types that you add to the disc, such as WMA, MP3, JPEG, or WMV.

What you'll need

To get started, you'll need the following:

  • A CD or DVD recorder drive (also known as a CD or DVD burner).

    Nearly all recent computers include a CD burner that lets you burn audio and data CDs. Some computers include a combination CD/DVD burner that lets you burn audio CDs, data CDs, and data DVDs.

    If you don't know what kind of burner you have, see Burn a CD or DVD: frequently asked questions or check the documentation that came with your computer.

  • A blank CD or DVD.

    The type of blank disc you need depends on what kind of burner you have and what kind of disc you're trying to make.

    For audio CDs, your best bet is the CD-R format because it's relatively inexpensive and it's compatible with the widest range of playback devices.

    For data CDs, CD-R is sufficient for most people's needs. However, if you want the ability to erase the disc later and add new files to it, choose CD-RW. Just keep in mind that blank CD-RW discs are typically more expensive than blank CD-R discs, and not all CD players can play CD-RW discs.

    For data DVDs, choose DVD-R or DVD+R if you only need to add files to the disc once. Choose DVD-RW or DVD+RW if you want the ability to erase the disc later and add new files to it. Note that some DVD burners support all of these blank disc types and some only support certain ones. For more information, see the documentation that came with your computer.

Burn an audio CD

If you want to make a standard music CD that will play in nearly any CD player, choose the Audio CD option.

As you burn an audio CD, Windows Media Player makes temporary copies of the WMA and MP3 files in your burn list, converts the copies to another format (known as PCM), and then saves the converted copies to the disc.

  1. Click the Burn tab, click the arrow below the Burn tab, and then click Audio CD (this is the default choice).

    Picture of Windows Media Player
    Selecting the "Audio CD" burn option
  2. Insert a blank CD-R disc into your CD burner.

    If the AutoPlay dialog box appears, close it.

    If your computer has two CD burners, click the Next Drive link to switch to the burner you want to use.

    If the Player doesn't recognize that you've inserted a disc or that you have a burner, see Burn a CD or DVD: frequently asked questions.

  3. If necessary, click the Clear List pane button Picture of the Clear List pane button to remove all items from the previous burn list.
  4. Find the items in your library that you want to copy to the audio CD.

    For example, you can search for a particular album, browse for individual songs from different albums, or locate a playlist that you created previously.

  5. To create a burn list, drag items from the Details pane (the pane in the middle of the library) to the List pane (the pane on the right side of the library).

    Picture of Windows Media Player
    Dragging items from the library to a burn list
  6. If you want to change the order of the songs in the burn list, drag a song up or down in the list.

    Picture of Windows Media Player
    Dragging an item to a lower position in a burn list
  7. If you want to remove a song from the burn list, right-click the song, and then click Remove from List.

    Don't worry: removing a song from the burn list doesn't delete it from your library or computer.

    Picture of Windows Media Player
    Removing an item from a burn list
  8. When you're satisfied with the list, click Start Burn.

    Burning a disc might take several minutes to complete.

    If you have more songs in your burn list than will fit on one audio CD, you'll have the option to burn the remaining items to a second blank CD.

Burn a data CD or data DVD

If you want to make a disc that can hold several hours of music (as opposed to an audio CD that only holds about 80 minutes of music), choose the Data CD or DVD option. Although most people just put music files on their data CDs and data DVDs, you can also add picture and video files in your library to your data discs.

Unlike when you burn an audio CD, Windows Media Player doesn't convert your files to another format before it saves them to a data disc. It just copies the files as they are. Because the files remain in their compressed state, you can fit more items onto a disc, there is no loss of quality due to format conversion, and all media information in the files is retained.

There is one significant disadvantage of burning a data CD or DVD instead of an audio CD, however: the CD or DVD player that you use to play the data CD or DVD must be capable of playing the file types you put on the disc. For example, if all of your songs are in the WMA format and your car CD player only supports MP3 files, you’ll need to use another program to convert them to the MP3 format, add the MP3 files to your library, and then use the Player to burn them to a data CD. To find an audio conversion program, try searching the web for “wma mp3 file converter.”

  1. Click the Burn tab, click the arrow below the Burn tab, and then click Data CD or DVD.

    Picture of Windows Media Player
    Selecting the "Data CD or DVD" burn option
  2. Insert a blank disc into your CD or DVD burner.

    If the AutoPlay dialog box appears, close it.

    If your computer has two CD or DVD burners, click the Next Drive link to switch to the burner you want to use.

    If the Player doesn't recognize that you've inserted a disc or that you have a burner, see Burn a CD or DVD: frequently asked questions.

  3. If necessary, click the Clear List pane button Picture of the Clear List pane button to remove all items from the previous burn list.
  4. Find the items in your library that you want to copy to the disc.

    For example, you can search for a particular album, browse for individual songs from different albums, or locate a playlist that you created previously.

  5. To create a burn list, drag items from the Details pane (the pane in the middle of the library) to the List pane (the pane on the right side of the library).

    Picture of Windows Media Player
    Dragging items from the library to a burn list
  6. If you want to change the order of the items in the burn list, drag the item up or down in the list.

    Picture of Windows Media Player
    Dragging an item to a lower position in a burn list
  7. If you want to remove an item from the burn list, right-click the item, and then click Remove from List.

    Don't worry: removing an item from the burn list doesn't delete it from your library or your computer.

    Picture of Windows Media Player
    Removing an item from a burn list
  8. When you're satisfied with the list, click Start Burn.

    As the disc is burned, progress is displayed for each item. Burning a disc might take several minutes to complete.

    If you have more items in your burn list than will fit on one disc, you'll have the option to burn the remaining items to a second disc.

Note

  • A data DVD is different than a DVD-Video disc (the kind of DVD that you get when you rent a movie, for example). Windows Media Player can't burn DVD-Video discs. However, if your computer is running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate, you can use Windows DVD Maker to burn this type of disc.

Note

  • Unauthorized use and/or duplication of copyrighted material may be a violation of copyright law in the United States and/or other countries/regions. Copyrighted material includes, but is not limited to, software, documentation, graphics, lyrics, photographs, clipart, animations, movie and video clips, as well as sound and music (including when MP3 encoded). Violation of U.S. and international copyright laws may subject you to significant civil and/or criminal penalties.