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Browse Windows Media Player’s Libraries

The Windows 8 Media Player library is where the behind-the-scenes action takes place. There, you organize files, create playlists, burn or copy CDs, and choose what to play.

When first loaded, Windows Media Player displays your Music library, appropriately enough. But Windows Media Player actually holds several libraries, designed to showcase not only your music but photographs, video, and recorded TV shows as well.

All your playable items appear in the Navigation Pane along the window’s left edge. The pane’s top half shows your own media collection, appropriately listed with your name at the top.

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The bottom half, called Other Libraries, lets you browse the collections of other people using your PC, as well as people sharing their media from networked PCs.

Windows Media Player organizes your media into these categories:

  • Playlists: Like playing albums or songs in a certain order? Click the Save List button atop your list of songs to save it as a playlist that shows up in this category.

  • Music: All your digital music appears here. Windows Media Player recognizes most major music formats, including MP3, WMA, WAV, and even 3GP files used by some cell phones. (It recognizes non-copy-protected AAC files, sold by iTunes, but it can’t recognize lossless or uncompressed formats like FLAC, APE, or OGG.)

  • Videos: Look here for videos you’ve saved from a camcorder or digital camera, or for videos you’ve downloaded from the Internet. Media Library recognizes AVI, MPG, WMV, ASF, DivX, some MOV files, and a few other formats.

  • Pictures: Windows Media Player can display photos individually or in a simple slide show, but your Pictures library handles photos better. (Windows Media Player can’t correct upside-down photos, for example, a feat done easily from within your Pictures library.)

  • Recorded TV: Recorded television shows appear here — if your PC has the equipment needed to record them. (The Windows 8 television recorder, Media Center, is available only as an add-on pack.)

  • Other Media: Items that Media Player doesn’t recognize hide in this area. Chances are good that you won’t be able to do much with them.

  • Other Libraries: Here, you can find media appearing on other PCs in your Homegroup — a type of network.

  • Media Guide: This opens the doors to Microsoft’s online music stores.

After you click a category, Windows Media Player’s Navigation Pane lets you view the files in several different ways. Click Artist in the Navigation Pane’s Music category, for example, and the pane shows the music arranged alphabetically by artists’ first names.

Similarly, clicking Genre in the Music category separates songs and albums by different types of music. Instead of just showing a name to click — blues, for example — the player arranges your music into piles of covers, just as if you’d sorted your albums or CDs on your living room floor.

To play anything in Windows Media Player, right-click it and choose Play. Or to play all your music from one artist or genre, right-click the pile and choose Play All.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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