Getting Music on your Windows Phone with Windows Media Player

I admit it. I have a Windows Phone. And I like it.

I’ve had an iPod, which is more than enough to tell me I don’t want an iPhone. Every time I switched PCs it was like starting over with a brand new device. Egad.

I also had an Android phone. It did a terrible job of letting me organize my apps, and often rearranged them after an update, leaving me once again to try and find where the heck everything is.

No, I like the simplicity of my Windows Phone. Easy to use, easy to setup. True, as critics say there’s not a lot of apps. But an awful lot of what I need I can do just via the web. Starbucks is a great example, they have an excellent mobile website through which I can check my card balance, see my current points (stars), and easily refill my card.

Truth be told, I actually have two Windows Phones. One is my large Samsung ATIV-SE, which I use daily. I also have a small inexpensive Nokia, only has 4 gig of ram but takes a 128 gig SD card. (The SD card cost twice as much as the phone.) When I travel I don’t want to run down the battery on my Samsung phone, so it works as a great device for playing my music, podcasts, and Audible audiobooks. Additionally, f something ever happened to the Samsung I can run and get a cheap SIM card and use it for a backup. I’ve nick named it ‘Zune’.

The one painful thing is getting music on my phones. One option is to simply open up File Explorer and copy things across. But that doesn’t let you really manage it well, and doesn’t help with playlists.

Another option is the Windows Phone desktop app. What a big pile of steaming poo that is. There’s a Windows 8 style app for it, which isn’t any better but is prettier. Of course there’s Groove / XBox Music. It does a great job of organizing music and playlists. But wait, it doesn’t talk to the Windows Phone. WTF Microsoft??? Come on, three different apps, none of which are worth a flip with the Windows Phone.

I’ve found the best app to be good old Windows Media Player. Yes, you heard me, the ancient but venerable Windows Media Player. It is easy to organize music and other types of media, as well as create playlists. Even better, when I plug in my phones it just recognizes them and shows up in the Sync tab. All I have to do is drag playlists or other media to it and click the start sync, and away it goes.

Unfortunately it’s a one way sync, it won’t retrieve things from the phone, but I can live with that.

I did have one frustrating moment last night. I was creating some new playlists, then when I went to sync them something happened. Not sure what, but everything went kablooie. Sync failed, and when I looked back many of my playlists had vanished.

I uttered a long string of explicatives involving the fleas of a thousand llamas and the armpits of most Microsoft Executives, then sighed and went to recreate one of them. When I did, it told me the list already existed! I went to look and of course didn’t see it, but I still had some glimmer of hope my lists were still there, like gold nuggets waiting to be found.

I put my Bingfu skills to work, and quickly found this question/answer in the Microsoft forums:

The solution came from one Afzal Taher, who appears to be a Microsoft employee. Or at least he was as of 2010 when the answer was posted.

His answer had multiple options you could try, but the first was all I needed. (If the below doesn’t work for you reference the above link).

1. Exit Windows Media Player.

2. Hold down the Windows Key and press R (for Run). Type %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Media Player and click OK.

3. Select all the files in that folder, and delete them. NOTE! DO NOT DELETE THE FOLDERS! Only the files.

4. Restart Windows Media Player.

Of course any time you delete files, do it with caution, and you’re on your own, no warranties from me.

When you restart Windows Media Player, it will begin rebuilding its database. I have literally hundreds of gigs of music. My collection has records and/or CDs back to the late 70’s that I’ve digitized because I’m really old and we all know the last decade for original music was the 80’s. Except for ZZ Top. No matter when their stuff comes out, it rocks. (Also a shout-out to DJ Lobsterdust for his really innovative mash-ups.)

Anyway, this was an overnight process for me. But this morning, all my songs and playlists were back, even the ones that had vanished. I was able to sync my playlists to my phones with no problem, and am now happily rocking out while writing some PowerShell code.

Hmmm. PowerShell + Windows Phone + Windows Media Player. I wonder….


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