How to Burn a CD From Your MP3s With Media Player 11

Create MP3 CDs to Play Your Music Collection Anywhere

Digital music can be stored on CD-R or CD-RW discs as data files but it's much more useful to burn the MP3s to create an audio CD. Burning MP3s lets you play the music on virtually any device that has a CD/DVD drive.

By creating a custom audio CD of your favorite music, you will be able to create your very own custom CDs to suit different moods. Last but not least, backing up your music to audio CDs will keep it safe in case disaster strikes.

Before You Start

Before beginning the tutorial on burning an audio CD, you should prepare by asking yourself the following:

Is Windows Media Player Empty? 

If this is your first time using Windows Media Player, you'll need to fill it with some music before you can burn anything to a disc. The MP3s need to be accessible from within the Windows Media Player program in order to select them for burning.

Do you have Windows Media Player 12?

If you do, which is likely since WMP 12 is newer than version 11, you'll find that the steps don't match up exactly with what we have below. There's a completely different tutorial on burning MP3s with Windows Media Player 12.

What Kind of CDs Do You Have? 

When purchasing CD-R media for audio CDs you have to make sure that they are good quality. If you buy cheap discs then don't be surprised if they end up as coasters that need to be thrown out. Some CD burners are also very picky when it comes to compatible media–check your CD burner's user guide for more information.

Here's a recommended list that are broadly compatible:

  • HP (Hewlett-Packard) HP 50-Pack CD-R 52X Media in Spindle
  • Verbatim 100PK CD-R 80Min 700MB 52x VALU Non-Printable Blank Disc w/Spindle

For jewel cases to store your CDs in:

  • Maxell 50-Pack Color Slim Jewel Cases - Assorted
  • Memorex 100PK Slim CD/DVD Jewel Cases (5MM) Clear
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Choosing the Type of CD to Burn

Image © 2008 Mark Harris

Run Windows Media Player 11 and click the Burn tab at the top of the screen. You'll be given access to WMP's different CD burning options. 

Before you start choosing which music files to burn, check that the type of CD to be created is correct. The program is set up by default to burn audio CDs, but to double-check, click the small down-arrow icon under the Burn tab and select Audio CD from the menu. 

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Adding Music to the Burn List

Image © 2008 Mark Harris

You can add single tracks and entire albums to the burn list by dragging and dropping. To display the contents of your library, click on one of the attributes of your music library, which can be found in the left pane.

For example, choosing Songs will display a list of songs that are arranged in alphabetical order. Album will organize the list by album. The same is true for others like Genre and Artist.

Building a burn list in Windows Media Player 11 is as easy as dragging the files into the correct section of the program. Click on single songs or entire albums, and drag them from the list in the middle of the program over to the right side where you see the Burn List area.

If you create a burn list that requires more than one blank CD, you'll see Next Disc indicate that multiple blank CDs are needed. To delete files or extra CDs from the burn list, right-click on them and choose Remove From List. If you need to start from scratch and completely erase the burn list, click the red cross on the right side to clear the entire list.

Before continuing, make sure that all the songs you want on the disc are ready to be burned. Double-check the list and see that there aren't songs you accidentally added or ones that you forgot to add. This is especially important if the disc you're using is a one-write kind of disc (i.e. isn't rewritable).

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Preparing the Disc

When you're happy with your compilation, you can insert a blank CD-R or CD-RW disc. To erase a CD-RW that already has data on it, right-click on the appropriate drive letter (in the left pane) and select Erase Disc from the pop-up menu. 

If you have more than one optical drive in your system, you can cycle through the drive letters by clicking Next Drive until you reach the drive you want to use.

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Burning Your Compilation

Image © 2008 Mark Harris

Now that the disc is ready, you can begin the process of burning the audio CD. Click the Start Burn icon to begin. 

The screen will display a list of tracks to be written to the CD with the status of each. Each file will either have, pending, writing to disc, or complete alongside it. A green progress bar is displayed next to the track that's currently being written to the CD, which also gives you the progress as a percentage.

If you need to stop the burn process for any reason you can use the Stop Burn icon. Just know that if the disc is not rewritable, stopping the burn procedure might forever prevent the disc from including additional songs.

Once the audio CD has been created, the CD tray will automatically eject the disc. If you don't want the CD to eject, click the small down-arrow icon under the Burn tab and deselect Eject Disc After Burning.

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Verifying Your Audio CD

Image © 2008 Mark Harris

It's a good idea to check that all the tracks on your audio CD have been written correctly. If the disc has been automatically ejected, insert the CD back into the disc drive and use WMP to play back the music.

Use the Now Playing tab to see a list of all the tracks Windows Media Player has queued up for playback. You can use this time to make sure they're all there.