Configure AutoPlay for PC Optical Drives and Media - dummies

Configure AutoPlay for PC Optical Drives and Media

By Dan Gookin

When your computer doesn’t know what to do with the disc in its optical drive, it presents you with options in the AutoPlay dialog box. You can customize AutoPlay settings, creating preset options for various types of discs. The goal here is convenience. If you always rip your CDs into Media Player, choosing that AutoPlay option for all music CDs you insert into your PC saves you time.


Software installation discs have built-in AutoPlay. A file named autorun.inf exists in the disc’s root folder. It’s a text file that Windows reads when the disc is inserted. The file contains instructions that describe which icon to use for the disc, as well as which program to automatically open when the disc is inserted.

When a disc without an autorun.inf file is inserted, the Windows AutoPlay function takes over. You’ve probably seen the dialog box displayed. Basically, you choose a disc type so that Windows can more properly display the information stored on the disc or so that Windows can deal with the disc’s contents (music and video, for example).

In Windows 7 and Windows Vista, configuring AutoPlay is done by carefully following these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel.

  2. Choose Hardware and Sound.

  3. Choose AutoPlay.

    You see a list of various media types, which Windows identifies for you when an optical disc is inserted into the PC’s optical drive. Next to each media type is a list of actions to take.

  4. Choose an action to take for a specific media type.

    For example, next to Audio CD you could choose the command Play Audio CD Using Windows Media Player from the button’s pop-up list. Or, choose the command Rip Music from CD Using Windows Media Player to automatically copy all the music to your computer.

  5. Click the Save button to confirm your choices and close the AuotPlay window.

In Windows XP, you control the AutoPlay feature by following these steps:

  1. Open the My Computer window.

  2. Right-click the optical drive icon.

  3. Choose Properties from the pop-up menu.

  4. In the drive’s Properties dialog box, click the AutoPlay tab.

  5. Use the dialog box’s drop-down list to choose a disc type.

  6. Choose the action to take from the Actions area.

  7. Click the OK button when you’re done.

  • One AutoPlay option is Take No Action. When you choose it and insert a disc, the AutoPlay dialog box doesn’t visually assault you.

  • One disc type is Software and Games. If you choose the Take No Action item for this type of disc, your software doesn’t automatically install.

  • Another option is Ask Me Every Time or Prompt Me Each Time to Choose an Action. It’s the opposite of the Take No Action option in that every time you insert a disc, you see the AutoPlay dialog box.

  • The AutoRun command on the optical drive’s shortcut menu automatically runs whichever program is specified in the autorun.inf file.