How to Make Windows Media Player Work for You

Windows Media Player is actually a very handy little program, if you can get it to work. It can play most streaming video and audio programs. It can also do a lot of other things like transfer songs from CDs to your MP3 Player.

Unfortunately, it may take a while for you to figure out how to do these things. Microsoft is not Apple; it actually expects the average person to be able to format programs on his own. If you’re using Media Player, you will have to actually learn how to use it. The best way to do this is, surprisingly, not to actually use it.

Windows Media Player

You will first have to get the latest version of Windows Media Player. Fortunately, you can download it free from Microsoft. As usual, you should try and get the latest version that will work on your computer. If you’re using Windows 7 or Vista, this will be Media Player 12. If you’re using Windows XP, you’ll need Media Player 11.

You can download both of them and get a lot of good information about them here:

The really good thing about Media Player is that it can play both audio and video. That means you can use it to watch last week’s episode of The Office or listen to the latest song.

Ripping Songs from CDs

A really cool thing you can do with current versions of Media Player is to rip (record) songs and videos from DVDs and CDs to your computer. That means you can actually transfer songs from CDs to your iPod or MP3 Player. To do this, put the CD into your computer. The player will try to retrieve information about it. The Media Player should do this automatically.

If it does not go to the Rip tab in Media Player, you will have to choose a file format and Bit Rate here.

how-to-windowsTo work, audio will have to be in one of these formats:

  • Windows Media Audio Pro
  • Windows Media Audio (Variable Bite Rate) – try this if you cannot figure out the bit rate.
  • Windows Media Audio Lossless – this gives you the best quality but it creates huge files that take up a lot of space.
  • MP3 and WAV for devices that use those formats.

Check your audio device to see what format it uses. If you cannot figure out the format, try visiting the Windows 7 Compatibility Center. It has a list of devices that work with Windows Media Player. Unfortunately, not every device is compatible with Windows 7.

Choose a bit rate that is as high as possible. The higher the bit rate, the better the audio will sound. The lower the bit rate and the worse it will sound, so choose the highest bit rate that it works with.

how-to-windowsPlaying a DVD on Your Computer

If you have a DVDdrive in your computer and you have Media Player 11 or 12, all you need to do is insert the DVDto play it. If you want to go to a certain point in the DVD, click on the Now Playing tab then check the list pane for the point in theDVD you’re looking for such as that cool explosion scene.

Unfortunately, you cannot rip DVDs legally. You can do it illegally with programs like Bit Torrent, but if you do you had better get a lawyer.Hollywoodstudios are reportedly suing people that do this.

You can watch DVDs in full screen mode. Just click on the Full Screen button or press Alt-Enter while theDVDis playing. That means you might get a picture you want to watch.

Using the Media Player on Other Devices

If you have a digital media player such as many late model TV sets or an Xbox 360, you can set up a home network. To do this, get an Ethernet cable and connect it to your computer. Then connect it to the device. If you need to find an Ethernet cable, go to a store like Radio Shack. They will actually tell you what it is, but you will have to pay for it. You might also be able to get an Ethernet cable free at work by asking the IT guy for it.

how-to-windowsIf media sharing is turned on, any media running on your Media Player should appear on the other device. You should be able to see the movie you’re running on the TV. If you cannot see this, Media Sharing isn’t turned on. To activate Media Sharing, click the Library Tab in Media Player and click on Media Sharing and look for the words share my media. Put a check in the checkbox if you want to see your movies on a screen large enough to watch.

A list of devices should appear and you can choose which one you want to see media on. For example, if you don’t want your kids to see R-rated movies, you can choose not to share with the TV in the living room.

You should be able to choose the media to play and control it using the regular remote control on your TV or Xbox. If that does not work, walk up and go over to the computer. At least, you will get some exercise.

You can also use this to play movies and music off of your playlist. You can create and edit playlists by clicking on the library tab. The best way to figure out how to do this is to play around with the Library Tab in Media Player for awhile.

One thing to remember about Media Player is that is not like an Apple application. You will actually have to use it.

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