How to Rip CDs in Windows Media Player 12

Take your music with you by converting it to a digital format

Ripping a music CD refers to the process of copying a CD's contents to your computer where you can listen to it at any time without the CD in the drive. You can also copy the music from your computer to a portable music player. Part of the ripping process addresses the need to change the format of the music on the CD to a digital music format. Windows Media Player 12, which first shipped with Windows 7, can handle this process for you.

Copying the contents of a CD to your computer or mobile device is perfectly legal as long as you own a copy of the CD. You can't make copies and sell them, though. 

Pile of disks
LawrenLu / Getty Images

Changing the Default Audio Format

Before you rip a CD, do the following:

  1. Open Windows Media Player and click on Organize.

    Windows Media Player 12 with Organize highlighted.
  2. Select Options.

    Windows Media Player 12 with Options highlighted.
  3. Click the Rip Music tab.

    Windows Media Player 12 options.
  4. The default format is Windows Media Audio, which may not be compatible with mobile devices. Instead, click in the Format field and change the selection to MP3, which is a better choice for music.

    Different format settings in Windows Media Player 12.
  5. If you will be playing the music back on a high-quality playback device, use the slider in the Audio quality section to improve the quality of the conversion by moving the slider toward Best Quality.

    Be aware that this increases the size of the MP3 files.

    Audio quality settings in Windows Media Players 12.
  6. Click OK to save the settings and exit the screen.

    Selecting OK in the Windows Media Players 12 Options.

Ripping the CD

Now that you have the audio format set, it is time to rip a CD:

  1. Insert a CD into the drive. Its name should show up in the left panel of Windows Media Player's Rip Music tab.

    An album title in Windows Media Players 12.
  2. Click on the name of the CD one time to display the track list, which probably won't include the names of the music on the CD, only generic track names. You could rip the CD at this point, but you might prefer to get the proper names for the songs first.

    An unknown album in Windows Media Players 12.
  3. To look up the names of the songs in the online CD database, right-click on the name of the CD again. Choose Find Album Info.

    Selecting Find album info in Windows Media Players 12.
  4. If the album isn't recognized automatically, type the name into the field provided. Click on the correct album in the search results and click Next.

  5. Confirm visually that the track listing contains the CD music names. It should match the listing on the back of your CD. Click Finish.

  6. Unselect any song you don't want to rip and click Rip CD at the top panel to begin ripping the music.

    Selectin Rip CD in Windows Media Players 12.
  7. When the ripping process is complete, go to the Music in the left panel where you can see the newly ripped album.

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