How to Listen to Your Own Music on Your Surface

The Music app on your Surface would make a poor student because it rarely finishes a task to completion. For example, when first loaded, the app searches your Surface’s Music folder to add your music. However, it doesn’t bother to search any memory cards or drives attached to your Surface.

Even when told to play your own music, the app lapses into a salesman role, trying to convince you to buy songs or subscribe to Microsoft’s pay services. After you’ve stocked the Music app with your own music, the app plays it fairly predictably.

When looking at your collection, you can choose to display your music by Albums, Artists, or Songs by tapping those three labeled buttons along the app’s top edge.

To move up or down the list of displayed music, slide your finger up or down the list. When you spot the album, artist, or song you want to hear, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the album artist or song you want to hear.

    The Music app works a little differently depending on what you’ve tapped:

    • Album: The Music app displays a list of songs on the album.

    • Artist: The app displays a list of albums you own from that artist, followed by a list of that artist’s albums and popular songs you can buy.

    • Name: Every song in your collection appears, sorted by the order you choose from the drop-down list at the top.

    To back out of a list, tap the Back arrow in the screen’s upper-left corner.

  2. Tap the Play button to listen to your selected music. Control the music’s playback by tapping the buttons on the strip along the app’s bottom.

    The Music app always shows familiar control buttons along the bottom edge. They let you skip forward or back, stop, and play your currently selected song.

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    If you continue to explore the Music app, your music continues to play in the background. The Music app displays different buttons on different screens. Here’s what happens when you tap any of these buttons:

    • Back Arrow: Tap this to back out of your current screen and return to the previous one.

    • Play: Play the currently viewed songs or album.

    • Pin to Start: Pin a tile for this album to the Start screen for quick one-tap access.

    • Add to playlist: A playlist is a list of currently playing songs. When you play an album, you’re creating a playlist of that album’s songs. Tap this icon to add a selected song or album to the list of currently playing songs or a new playlist. If you have an Xbox Music Pass, copy your music to the cloud by matching it with a song from Microsoft’s song catalog.

    • Explore artist: When viewing an album, tap this to see more information about the artist, including other popular albums.

    • Start Radio: Shown next to an artist’s name when viewing by Artist, this begins playing a radio station with songs by that artist or similar to the artist’s style.

    • More: Found on crowded button lists, this launches a pop-up menu to show any buttons that didn’t fit in a neat row.

Your Surface’s Touch and Type Cover keyboards have dedicated music playback keys along the top row. There, you can toggle between Play and Pause, as well as toggle the Mute button/Volume bar.

The Music app works in a fairly straightforward way, but Microsoft constantly tosses in extra buttons, eager for you to buy new music or subscribe to its music services.

If you’re looking for a no-frills player that concentrates solely on managing your own music, drop by the Windows Store and try a few of the alternative music players.

While working your way through the Music app, try these tips to discover some of the app’s less-obvious features:

  • To make the Music app begin playing your entire library in Shuffle mode, tap the Shuffle icon next to the word Collection.

  • To select a particular song or album from a list, hold your finger down on it and then slide your finger slightly to the left. Repeat with other items to select them, as well. Slide your finger in the reverse direction to deselect an item.

  • To play music on a newly inserted flash drive, fetch the App bar by sliding your finger up from the screen’s bottom edge. Then tap the Open File icon. The File Picker appears, letting you navigate to your flash drive and play its music.

  • If you’re more accustomed to the Windows desktop, feel free to play your music from your desktop’s Music library. Double-tap any selected song or songs, and the Music app opens to play them.

  • The Surface RT and Surface 2 don’t include the desktop’s Media Player. However, Media Player lives on in the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, offering an alternative way to manage and play your music.

  • The Music app plays only MP3 and WMA files, including WMA lossless. It won’t play other lossless formats.

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