Troubleshooting Windows Media Player (Feature)
By Jay Dougherty May 10, 2010, 3:06 GMT
Washington - For most Windows users, there's no getting around Windows Media Player. Whether you want to enjoy digital music, video, images, DVDs, or recorded television, Media Player is the tool. And for the most part, it works like a charm - except when it doesn't. While Microsoft has made great strides in improving Media Player's looks and usability over the years, the application still suffers from more than its share of glitches. The good news: some of the most common problems have easily implemented solutions. Here are a few.
--- The menu bar is missing
Newer versions of Windows Media Player hide the standard menu - with the File, View, Play, and Tools options - by default. Unfortunately, many of the program's features are most easily accessible through the standard menus. Never fear. The menus are easy to get back, even if you only want them temporarily. Just hold down the Ctrl key and tap the letter M. The menus will pop back into view. Use the same keyboard shortcut to get rid of them again. You'll also be able to turn the menus on and off by right-clicking the area just below the title bar and selecting 'Show menu bar' from the context-sensitive menu.
--- Album art is missing
When you rip a CD using Media Player, the program automatically downloads a thumbnail of the CD from an online database, and it will display this 'album art' when you play the CD. It's a nice touch - but only when it works. If you've ripped a CD outside of Media Player or if the application cannot recognise your CD, you may not see album art. It's easy to fix this on a case-by-case basis, though.
Use Media Player's library to navigate to the album that's missing the art. Then open a web browser to your favourite search engine and type in the name of the artist and album. Chances are good that a picture of the album will appear first in the list of results. Right-click that picture, and select Copy. Now go back to Media Player, right-click the album with missing art, and from the pop-up menu, select 'Paste album art.' Media Player takes the album art from the clipboard and creates a thumbnail for you.
--- Duplicate songs in playlist
Windows Media Player scans your hard drive to catalogue and display the songs you have stored there. To tell Media Player where to look, by the way, click the Organise button, and navigate to Manage Libraries, Music. The Music Library Locations dialog box opens, and there you can add or remove locations where you have music files stored.
It's important to ensure that you don't have song files stored twice on your computer. Or, if you do, make sure that Media Player is set up only to catalogue files in one of the locations. Otherwise, Media Player will list each instance of a song that it finds. So if, for example, you have The Beatles' Rubber Soul CD stored in two locations, Media Player will find both instances of the CD. It will list the album only once, but each song will appear twice in the CD's playlist.
If you have just a small number of duplicates in your playlist, you can select those, and press the Del key. A prompt will appear, asking you whether you wish to delete the file from the library only or from the library and your disk.
--- Media Player won't start
Windows Media Player is not always the most well-behaved of applications. Sometimes, in fact, when you try to start it, nothing happens. This usually occurs after the program has crashed or when you've been experiencing problems with it.
If Media Player won't start, chances are good that there's already an instance of the application running somewhere in the background. What you need to do is to find that instance, kill it, and then start the program again.
To do so, press Ctrl-Shift-Esc (hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys simultaneously, and tap Esc) to open the Windows Task Manager. Make sure the Processes tab is selected. Then, from the alphabetised list of running processes, scroll down until you find 'wmplayer.exe.' Right-click it, and select End Process from the pop up menu. If you happen to see multiple instances of 'wmplayer.exe' in the Processes tab, end them all in the same manner. You should also end 'wmpnetwk.exe' if you find that running. Once you've killed those processes, Media Player should launch again without issue.
--- Delete the database
Sometimes the Media Player gets hopelessly bogged down or exhibits behaviour that you don't know how to correct. The solution in such cases is simple: delete the Windows Media Player database and start over.
Don't worry: deleting the database is easy, and there's no danger that in deleting the database you will destroy any media files. Media Player's database contains primarily pointers to files that exist on your PC or the drives to which your PC is connected; it does not contain the files themselves.
Open Windows Explorer (Windows Key-E), and navigate to the following folder: c:users name>AppDataLocalMicrosoftMedia Player. Note that name> is the name you log on with, and you won't be able to see the AppData folder unless you have turned on the 'show hidden files' option. Do that first by typing 'folder options' into the Start menu and clicking the Folder Options entry that appears. In the Folder Options dialog box, click the View tab, and from the list of Advanced Settings, select 'Show hidden files, folders, or drives.'
Once you are in the Media Player folder, delete all the files with a 'wmdb' extension. 'WMDB' stands for Windows Media Database. You will have to make sure you have closed Media Player before deleting these. Otherwise, you'll receive an error message. Once the files are deleted, restart Media Player, and it will rebuild your catalog. With a rebuilt database, most of your Media Player glitches should be solved.