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CD Burning Made Easy with Windows® XP Pro

Windows® XP Pro's built–in tools make creating your own CDs quicker and more user–friendly than ever before. That's because the XP Pro Media Player guides you through the process — from copying audio files and creating a playlist, to transferring your favorite music to a writable CD and customizing your own tracks.

Keith Landers, CTO for Extreme Logic, is amazed at how simple the process has become. "There is literally nothing to it now," he says. "XP recognized my CD burner on its own. I didn't have to install anything."

Back to the Windows® XP Pro home page.

Hardware you'll need

If there's a watchword for Windows® XP Pro, it's simplicity. To start CD burning, you'll need just a few tools:

  • A CD–rewritable (CD–RW) drive. If you bought your computer in the last three years, you probably have one already built–in. If not, see our selection.


  • A blank, writable audio CD. Either a CD–R (a CD that can have data written onto it once), or a CD–RW (a CD that can be written over multiple times). Andy Rathbone, author of Windows® XP for Dummies, recommends CD–R discs, since "many stereos choke on CD–RW discs."

Where and how to obtain audio files

Before you can burn your own CDs, you need to have audio files on your computer, which in turn need to be arranged into playlists. There are two ways to create audio files — by downloading them from the Internet, or by copying (also known as "ripping") them from a CD. Audio files that you've downloaded are likely in either a WMA (Windows Media Audio) or MP3 file format. Songs ripped from your favorite CDs are automatically saved as WMA (rather than MP3) files by the Windows Media Player.

Remember that it's illegal to distribute music or even to copy music to a CD without a license to do so. If you download music from a site without paying and then burn and distribute CDs, you're breaking the law.

Before you burn, create playlist

A playlist is your own "Greatest Hits" album, although, as XP for Dummies author Andy Rathbone is quick to point out, Media Player lets you build playlists out of almost anything. "You can create your own party soundtrack by mixing radio station streams with MP3 files, favorite videos, and even links to Internet movie trailers," says Rathbone. To create a playlist:

  1. Open the Windows Media Player by clicking on All Programs. Click Media Library.


  2. On the toolbar, click New Playlist. A box will appear where you can type in the name of your playlist, such as Blues Favorites or Hard Rockin Harpsicords.


  3. A display of your audio files will appear. Browse through these files and choose the ones you want to add to your playlist by right clicking on the track name. Click Add to Playlist. Repeat this process until you've added all of the songs you want to appear on your playlist. Click My Playlists to view the lineup you've created. To listen to your new list, just select the name of your list and click play.

Burning your own CDs, step by step

Once you have a playlist, you're ready to burn your own CDs. There's not much to it. If you want to copy tracks to a portable MP3 player, the process is nearly the same.

  1. Go to All Programs and click on Windows Media Player.


  2. Insert a blank CD–R into your CD–RW drive.


  3. From Windows Media Player, click Copy to CD or Device.


  4. Select a playlist from the Music to Copy drop down menu. If there are tracks on your playlist that you don't want to copy, clear the check boxes next to them.


  5. Click Copy Music.

Now it's time to step back and wait for all of your tracks to be copied to your new CD. Get a glass of water and relax. CD burning takes anywhere from 7 to 70 minutes, depending on the sophistication and speed of your CD–RW drive. Remember that CDs only hold 74 to 80 minutes worth of music. If you try to stuff too long of a playlist into your new CD, Windows Media Player will gently remind you that you'll have to choose a song or two to leave out. Take heart. You can always create another CD.

Don't think you'll want to cut an entire CD in one sitting? Windows XP Media Player will let you create a CD across multiple sessions. All you have to do is return later, insert the CD you were previously using, and select the additional songs you want to add. If you're using a CD–RW disc to create a CD, you can even copy over your previous session.

Back to the Windows® XP Pro home page.


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