How-To Geek

Experience your music in a whole new way with Zune for PC

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
(Links may not work, downloads have not been recently tested for safety)

Tired of the standard Media Player look and feel, and want something new and innovative?  Zune offers a fresh, new way to enjoy your music, videos, pictures, and podcasts, whether or not you own a Zune device.

Microsoft started out on a new multimedia experience for PCs and mobile devices with the launch of the Zune several years ago.  The Zune devices have been well received and noted for their innovative UI, and the Zune HD’s fluid interface is the foundation for the widely anticipated Windows Phone 7.  But regardless of whether or not you have a Zune Device, you can still use the exciting new UI and services directly from your PC.  Zune for Windows is a very nice media player that offers a music and video store and wide support for multimedia formats including those used in Apple products.  And if you enjoy listening to a wide variety of music, it also offers the Zune Pass which lets you stream an unlimited number of songs to your computer and download 10 songs for keeps per month for $14.99/month. Or you can do a pre-paid music card as well.  It does all this using the new Metro UI which beautifully shows information using text in a whole new way.  Here’s a quick look at setting up and using Zune on your PC.

Getting Started

Download the installer (link below), and run it to begin setup.  Please note that Zune offers a separate version for computers running the 64 bit version of Windows Vista or 7, so choose it if your computer is running these.


Once your download is finished, run the installer to setup Zune on your computer.  Accept the EULA when prompted.


If there are any updates available, they will automatically download and install during the setup.  So, if you’re installing Zune from a disk (for example, one packaged with a Zune device), you don’t have to worry if you have the latest version.  Zune will proceed to install on your computer.


It may prompt you to restart your computer after installation; click Restart Now so you can proceed with your Zune setup.  The reboot appears to be for Zune device support, and the program ran fine otherwise without rebooting, so you could possibly skip this step if you’re not using a Zune device.  However, to be on the safe side, go ahead and reboot.


After rebooting, launch Zune.  It will play a cute introduction video on first launch; press skip if you don’t want to watch it.


Zune will now ask you if you want to keep the default settings or change them.  Choose Start to keep the defaults, or Settings to customize to your wishes.  Do note that the default settings will set Zune as your default media player, so click Settings if you wish to change this.


If you choose to change the default settings, you can change how Zune finds and stores media on your computer.  In Windows 7, Zune will by default use your Windows 7 Libraries to manage your media, and will in fact add a new Podcasts library to Windows 7.


If your media is stored on another location, such as on a server, then you can add this to the Library.  Please note that this adds the location to your system-wide library, not just the Zune player.


There’s one last step.  Enter three of your favorite artists, and Zune will add Smart DJ mixes to your Quickplay list based on these.  Some less famous or popular artists may not be recognized, so you may have to try another if your choice isn’t available.  Or, you can click Skip if you don’t want to do this right now.


Welcome to Zune!  This is the default first page, QuickPlay, where you can easily access your pinned and new items.


If you have a Zune account, or would like to create a new one, click Sign In on the top.


Creating a new account is quick and simple, and if you’re new to Zune, you can try out a 14 day trial of Zune Pass for free if you want.


Zune allows you to share your listening habits and favorites with friends or the world, but you can turn this off or change it if you like.


Using Zune for Windows

To access your media, click the Collection link on the top left.  Zune will show all the media you already have stored on your computer, organized by artist and album.


Right-click on any album, and you choose to have Zune find album art or do a variety of other tasks with the media.


When playing media, you can view it in several unique ways.  First, the default Mix view will show related tracks to the music you’re playing from Smart DJ.  You can either play these fully if you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, or otherwise you can play 30 second previews.


Then, for many popular artists, Zune will change the player background to show pictures and information in a unique way while the music is playing.  The information may range from history about the artist to the popularity of the song being played.


Zune also works as a nice viewer for the pictures on your computer.


Start a slideshow, and Zune will play your pictures with nice transition effects and music from your library.


Zune Store

The Zune Store offers a wide variety of music, TV shows, and videos for purchase.  If you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, you can listen to or download any song without purchasing it; otherwise, you can preview a 30 second clip first.


Zune also offers a wide selection of Podcasts you can subscribe to for free.


Using Zune for PC with a Zune Device

If you have a Zune device attached to your computer, you can easily add media files to it by simply dragging them to the Zune device icon in the left corner.  In the future, this will also work with Windows Phone 7 devices.


If you have a Zune HD, you can also download and add apps to your device.


Here’s the detailed information window for the weather app.  Click Download to add it to your device.


Mini Mode

The Zune player generally takes up a large portion of your screen, and is actually most impressive when run maximized.  However, if you’re simply wanting to enjoy your tunes while you’re using your computer, you can use the Mini mode to still view music info and control Zune in a smaller mode.  Click the Mini Player button near the window control buttons in the top right to activate it.


Now Zune will take up much less of your desktop.  This window will stay on top of other windows so you can still easily view and control it.


Zune will display an image of the artist if one is available, and this shows up in Mini mode more often than it does in the full mode.


And, in Windows 7, you could simply minimize Zune as you can control it directly from the taskbar thumbnail preview.


Even more controls are available from Zune’s jumplist in Windows 7.  You can directly access your Quickplay links or choose to shuffle all music without leaving the taskbar.



Although Zune is designed to be used without confusing menus and settings, you can tweak the program to your liking from the settings panel.  Click Settings near the top left of the window.


Here you can change file storage, types, burn, metadata, and many more settings.  You can also setup Zune to stream media to your XBOX 360 if you have one.


You can also customize Zune’s look with a variety of modern backgrounds and gradients.



If you’re ready for a fresh way to enjoy your media, Zune is designed for you.  It’s innovative UI definitely sets it apart from standard media players, and is very pleasing to use.  Zune is especially nice if your computer is using XP, Vista Home Basic, or 7 Starter as these versions of Windows don’t include Media Center.  Additionally, the mini player mode is a nice touch that brings a feature of Windows 7’s Media Player to XP and Vista.  Zune is definitely one of our favorite music apps.  Try it out, and get a fresh view of your music today!


Download Zune for Windows

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 04/6/10

Comments (19)

  1. Ruix

    .why can’t i see the “maketplace” and the “social” tab. the option to sign in or create new account is also not available…

    .i’m not in the u.s. Is that a problem?

  2. Neil

    I was so excited about this, then when trying to sign up I realised its not available in my region. :(

  3. Bob

    I have had the 30GB Zune(s) for several years (just after the Zune 2 came out) and all I can say is I am really glad that I only paid $80 for the players although my son has a Zune HD which was much more the $80.
    The Zune software has been nothing but a pain to use and a pain to sync the device! There was a freeware that made it so that you could use Media Monkey to sync your Zune but it was for the Zune 2.0 firmware; I should check if it has been updated for the 3.++ firmware.
    I have loaded the latest version of the Zune software but I have not played with it. I am anxious to see if the new software will understand that I moved my audio files to my external drive. In the past, I had to download and run a software tool in order to change directories of my audio files.
    At one point, I had to call Microsoft because Zune would no longer see my audio files. Their solution was to make a new copy of all my audio but my solution was to add a letter to the end of the directory name and that seemed to work.
    Currently, my son’s Zune HD will not sync all of his music but there always seems to a another problem with the Zune software.

  4. Lagertop

    The software may be okay but try getting rid of it!

    It does not have an uninstaller.exe
    The installer does not work in reverse.
    4 x 3rd Party apps would not see it.
    Windows uninstaller kept crashing with an error code and useless link to microsoft.

    After 1 hour I finally got it uninstalled after trawling google, it turns out that Windows Firewall service has to be ENABLED or it crashes on uninstall.

  5. jpmays

    So… according to your article… if I’m not mistaken… one can only listen to one’s own music in its entirety if you have a Zune Pass? Otherwise one’s limited to a 30 second clip? What kind of rip off is this? I have to pay to listen to music I already own that is already on my computer?

    NO FREAKING WAY! I don’t care how slick the UI is… it’s not worth $15 a month! I’ll stick with Winamp, or even Itunes… at least you don’t have to pay a monthly fee!

  6. Matthew Guay

    @jpmays – Oh no, I think you misunderstood. Zune Pass lets you listen to any song available in the Zune Store for free, so basically you’re paying $15/month to have an unlimited music library. Additionally, you get 10 tracks per month for free that you can keep, so even if you quit subscribing you can still listen to those songs. As for music you already own, you can listen to it just fine, no limitations, even if you never subscribe to Zune Pass. I use Zune as my primary music player, and I’ve never subscribed to Zune Pass. Don’t worry; this is not getting you to pay to listen to your own music, it’s only getting you to pay to listen to extra music!

  7. Matthew Guay

    @Lagertop – I’ve uninstalled it before by going to Control Panel, selecting Uninstall a Program, and then selecting Zune. It seemed to work fine in my experience. Maybe your install had a problem? Anyhow, sorry to hear you had trouble with it!

  8. Joe

    When the latest version came out a while back, I decided to give it another go (I tried version 1 back when it was basically a dark theme ripoff of iTunes). I fell in love! The interface takes a while to get used to, but the way everything feels so organic, and the visualizations, and the mass content available with Zune Pass… It became my primary music player in an instant, and now I only open iTunes when I need to sync my i-devices.

    The one BIG issue I have is the syncing it’s library folders with your computer’s libraries. I have a ton of music that isn’t organized, and I don’t want it in my music player, but it still belongs in the windows library. There’s a registry workaround that works like a charm, but seriously, that isn’t acceptable.

  9. Jasray

    Thanks for the information. I twisted Windows 7 back to quick launch and have the Zune toolbar available like the Media Player back in XP. Good sound, and I guess it makes my day happier!

  10. JohnDoe

    I have the 30GB Zune which doesn’t support Unicode (Asian Characters); all my Chinese & Japanese songs ID tag just show up as 口 口 口 on the Zune device.

  11. Sam Tate


    Windows Firewall should be enabled anyway…

  12. Sam Tate

    The download link fails
    Can somebody please upload this to the interwebs?

  13. bob

    grrr. I’ve been wanting to move away from my ipod and iTunes for a long time now. And i actually had a go of the Zune software just the other day and i absolutely love it.

    Just wish MS would get off their butts and start selling the Zune here in Europe. What is the strategy there? Why would they want to limit themsleves to just the US?

    I’m thinking off getting a Zune HD anyway and i’m wondering if there is any workaround?

  14. Michael

    When i start the software i only get an error: C00D11CD (8007007E)
    I can´t find any solution, maybe you could help.

  15. Tracy

    This has to be the worst written software I’ve ever seen. I had a Zune a little over a year and a half ago, and guess what the latest software, did not install on 64bit Windows Vista, and to my knowledge this problem still hasn’t been fixed by Microsoft. The only way to get this software installed on a 64bit Windows Vista machine, is if the machine is a freshly formatted harddrive with a freshly installed Windows Vista 64, otherwise forget about getting this software installed on a 64bit Windows Vista machine.

    After all the trouble I had, I got rid of the 30GB Zune I had, and got me a 120GB IPOD, and I haven’t looked back since.

    I for one am not about to go reformatting my harddrive and reinstalling Windows Vista 64, just to get this software installed.

    I thought I would warn people who are running 64bit Windows Vista, what’s in store for them.

  16. Matthew Guay

    @Tracy – I have run it on the 64 bit versions of both Windows Vista and 7, and never had problems with it. Sorry to hear of your problems. Did you install the 64 bit version? Always make sure to install the 64 bit version of programs when one is available; both Zune and iTunes have 64 bit versions, and they both work great on Vista and 7 64bit for me.

  17. Tracy

    Yes, I did install the 64bit version, and the only way I could get it installed was on a freshly formatted harddrive with a reinstalled operating system. Sadly from what I’ve seen on the official Zune forums over the past year and a half, Microsoft knows about this, and to my knowledge still hasn’t done anything, as other people have had this problem in the past.

    ITunes still isn’t totally 64bit, as most of it is installed in the 32bit program files folder. I’m assuming it would cost Apple a ton of money to write a version that is totally 64bit.

    It’s because of this, that I’m leery of the upcoming phone/mp3 player/portable gaming system from Microsoft in the last quarter of this year, as I can imagine the headaches with the Zune software.

  18. Manish

    whenever i try to play any songs, viedos i get C00D11CD(8007007E) error…….tried reinstalling but it didn’t work…..does anyone have any suggetions.

  19. Joseph

    I’ve always been a big fan of the Zune Software I love it a lot and I fin it easier to use than iTunes. Also for those of you experiencing problems with the Software the new 4.8 Version it out and it’s more glitch-less than 4.7. I also recommend downloading the version from the Microsoft Download Center rather than the one from the Zune site

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