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The Best Articles for Playing, Customizing, and Organizing Your Media

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Computers today are used for much more than generating documents, writing and receiving email, and surfing the web. We also use them to listen to music, watch movies and TV shows, and to transfer media to and from mobile devices.

Below are links to many articles we have published on various media topics, such as streaming media, managing and organizing your media, converting media formats, obtaining album art, preparing media for transfer to mobile devices, and some general information about working with audio and video. You’ll also find links to articles about specific media tools, such as Audacity, XBMC, Windows Media Player, VLC, and iTunes.

XBMC

XBMC is a free, open source software media player and digital media entertainment center available for Windows, Linux, and OS X. It plays almost all the popular audio and video formats, and allows you to stream your multimedia from anywhere in your house or from the internet using practically any protocol available. The following articles show you how to how to make the most of XBMC by syncing your media across you whole house, installing XBMC on your iPad, controlling XBMC from your iPhone or iPod Touch, and expanding XBMC with add-ons.

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Streaming Media

With internet connectivity getting faster, a lot of people are turning to the web for their TV and movie entertainment. There are many sites offering services that stream movies and TV shows to your computer, tablet, netbook, or mobile device. The following articles provide some options for finding available streaming TV shows, music, and movies.


Rip CDs and DVDs

Most of us listen to music and watch movies in digital format on computers, tablets, and mobile devices. However, a lot of us still buy physical CDs and DVDs that we want to convert to formats we can use on portable devices. The following articles show you how to rip CDs and DVDs so you can listen to your music collection and watch movies on any of your devices.

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Media Management and Organization

Have you converted your entire CD and DVD collection to digital format on your computer? You probably have many music and video files in many locations on your computer, from the various programs you’ve used over the years to rip your CDs and DVDs. The filenames are probably not consistent and the organization of the folders are different because every media ripping program is different. The following articles show you ways of organizing and cleaning up your media so you can easily find it.

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Media Conversion

Many of us are always looking for ways to convert audio and video formats to other formats so we can listen and watch on multiple types of devices. The following articles help you convert many popular audio and video formats to other formats and even how to convert live TV recordings so you can play them on an iOS device.

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Album Art

When music was only available in record or CD format, the fancy cover art was a big part of the music. Now that we listen to music in electronic format, you may not think about the cover art much. However, it’s not difficult to join your music files with their fancy cover images. The following articles show you how to easily obtain cover art for your electronic music files and how to display the cover art on your desktop computer as you listen to your music.

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Audacity

Audacity is a free, open source, cross-platform program used to record and edit sounds. The following articles show you how to use Audacity to edit multiple files, remove vocals from music tracks, and add the ability to save files in MP3 format.

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Boxee

Boxee is a physical device that finds TV shows and movies available on the internet and plays them on your TV. The following articles show you how to get started with Boxee, manage your movies in Boxee, watch Netflix instant movies in Boxee, integrate Boxee with Windows 7 Media Center, and even how to use your iPhone or iPod Touch as a remote for Boxee.

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Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player is a Microsoft product that has been part of Windows for a long time. It has built-in support for many popular audio and video formats. The current version in Windows 7 (12) can stream music and video to other computers running Windows 7 or to compatible devices in your home. The following articles help you make the most of Windows Media Player to enjoy your media collection.

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Windows Media Center

Windows Media Center is a full service entertainment center available in Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise. It allows you to copy CDs, listen to music and radio, burn CDs and DVDs, play DVDs and videos, view and edit photos, and create photo slide shows. You can also use it to record TV shows and sync TV shows to a mobile device. The following articles show you how to make the most of Windows Media Center.

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VLC

VLC is a free, open source, cross-platform multimedia player that plays most media formats, as well as audio CDs, DVDs, and even video compact discs (VCDs). It plays most codecs without the need for codec packs and also allows you to convert and stream media. The following articles show you how to use the different features of VLC, including how to take snapshots of movie scenes and how to convert video files to MP3.

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iTunes

If you have an iPhone, iPod Touch, or an iPad, you probably use iTunes to manage your media library and keep everything in sync between your computer and your mobile device. The following articles help you to make the most of iTunes to manage your library and to enjoy your media collection. There are even articles that provide you with alternatives to iTunes in case you would rather use something else, but need compatibility with iOS devices.

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Other Media Tools

There are many other tools out there that help you play, customize, and organize your media collection. The following article describe how to use other tools besides the ones previously mentioned.

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Media on Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are becoming more and more common as tools for listening to music and for watching movies and TV shows both locally on the device and streaming from the internet or a computer on your home network. The following articles help you make the most out of using your mobile devices as media players and organizers.

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General Audio and Video Information

Last, but certainly not least, here are some articles that help you understand more about audio and video formats and files.

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We hope all this information improves your enjoyment of the world of digital entertainment both online and off.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/24/12

Comments (9)

  1. Yo

    Good article, but none the less, you should have featured Freemake Video Converter in here. It is a great tool, which sums up many of the functions in some tool above, and even has a Chrome extension. Check it out.

  2. TigerTuff

    I’ve used a lot of Media Center software over the years, and for me, the combination of the (lightweight) Plex Media Server (Windows / Mac) + Plex Client (Windows / Mac) has to be the best I’ve used. Plex was originally forked from the XBMC project in 2008.

    Plex clients are available for the second generation Apple TV (with support for the 3rd gen to be added soon). You can also get clients for the iPad and iPhone – and using Airplay to push video to the AppleTV is fantastic.

    You can also use the myPlex service to painlessly stream your media library from anywhere with an internet connection (largely dependent on a decent upload speed), and you can also share your media library with friends.

    It just works. Not having a dig at xbmc/myth/windows media center but i’ve poured hours into configuring them in the past and never been able to get them to work as seamlessly as i have with Plex.

  3. Linda

    Do you ever give advice or articles for Mac users?

  4. donebb

    I would love to be able to find a music player that works a lot like Windows Live Photo Gallery. What I would like to be able to do is to put multiple tags on a song, beyond the Genre label that WMP allows, and then be able to select one or a combination of tags and have that group play. For example I may have the tags, Rock, 60′s, Top 10, Beatles. When I select that combination, all of my Beatles songs from the 60′s (I know, they only recorded in the 60′s, maybe 1 album in 1970, this would distinguish original tracks from re-mastered tracks) that were in the Top 10 would play. Is there anything like that out there?

  5. NILESH

    WINAMP WAS ONE OF THE BEST MEDIA PLAYER BEFORE WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER… I STILL USE IT …

  6. josh

    Linda, this is the “How To Geek” site… mainly for linux users… the biggest piece of advice anyone can give you regarding a Mac is “dont use one”. Using a mac and being a geek is impossible at the same time. Macs were made for people that didn’t want to invest in themselves the necessary time to really learn how to use computers.

  7. skottmorris

    Umm, MediaMonkey and MP3Gain? MM is the only tool is use for music and MP3Gain keeps all my music rocking at the same level. I have thousands of music files on my computer and MediaMonkey handles all the tasks I can throw at. Hands down the number one, must have music manager for your PC.

  8. Brian

    @Josh: +1! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    @Nilesh: I also still use Winamp… it’s great because you can set it to play one track, and then stop which WMP does not offer. It’s a great option for professional audio engineers like myself. I also use the Winamp auto crossfader plugin which is nice for those DJ gigs, and it also interfaces with the free program “DMX Control” which I use regularly.

  9. Crampon

    +1 for Mediamonkey. It’s all I use for PC management of my music library and just works.
    Sonos for the actual streaming throughout the house though :)

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