Secret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer

Secret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer (3)

See song lyrics, listen to internet radio stations, and play all audio and video formats

  • Use keyboard shortcuts to control your mediaSecret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer (1)

    Using keyboard shortcuts is the quickest and easiest way to control your PC. Windows Media Player (WMP) has a whole range of keyboard shortcuts for perusing and playing your music and DVD collection. For example, press Ctrl+F to skip to the next track or DVD chapter or Ctrl+B to return to the previous one (an easy way to remember: ‘F’ for Forward and ‘B’ for Back). If you don’t have a media keyboard containing dedicated buttons for Play, Mute and so on, you can use the Function keys to carry out these tasks. The F7 key mutes/unmutes WMP’s sound; F8 and F9 reduce and increase the volume respectively; and Ctrl+S stops a track playing. To see a full list of WMP keyboard shortcuts,

  • Listen to internet radio stations

    If you want a change from your personal music collection, you can tune in to any of the thousands of internet radio stations that are available via WMP. Right-click the light-blue section at the top (beside Play, Burn and Sync at the top right), then move your cursor to View, ‘Online stores’, and click Media Guide. You’ll see a list of genres (including Jazz, Oldies, Country and Classic Rock) at the top. Click one of these to see a list of genre-specific radio stations, then click Listen under a radio station’s thumbnail to play it.

  • Play all media formats on Windows Media Player

    Windows Media Player supports a large number of audio and video formats by default, but there are still many formats, such as DivX and FLAC, that aren’t supported. Thankfully, you can install the free K-Lite Codec Mega Pack, which adds support for hundreds of popular formats to WMP. Go to www.snipca.com/15078 and click the blue Direct Download Link (just above Publisher’s Description).
    Once it’s downloaded, open the installer, and keep clicking Next through all the menus until you reach the page prompting you to install additional software. Untick all the boxes, then tick ‘No Thanks’ to confirm you don’t want these extras. Continue clicking Next to install the codec pack.

  • Control your music when using other programs

    If you want to have instant access to your music player when you’re doing other things on your PC, you can choose to keep Windows Media Player’s Now Playing window on top of your other open windows. Click Organize at the top left, then Options. In the window that opens, click the Player tab, tick the box next to ‘Keep Now Playing on top of other windows’, then click Apply and OK.Secret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer (1)
    Start playing a track, then press Ctrl+3 to activate Now Playing mode which brings up a small window displaying the track you’re currently playing. You can resize this window by dragging its corners and access the music player controls by moving your cursor over it.

  • See the lyrics of the song you’re playingSecret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer (2)

    A little-known fact about Windows Media Player is that it supports third-party plug-ins that add new features. For example, you can download the Lyrics Plugin at www.lyricsplugin.com to display the lyrics of any track you play. Click the Download Now button under ‘Lyrics Plugin for Windows Media Player’, then double-click the downloaded file and follow the instructions to install it. Now open WMP, right-click the blue space at the top, click Tools, then ‘Plug-ins’ (see screenshot). You should see the Lyrics Plugin with a tick next to it. Next, start playing a track, then switch to the Now Playing view (by pressing Ctrl+3) to see the lyrics to that song.

The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade

The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade (3)

Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade, but only during the first year after it launches, and only to people currently using Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1. Microsoft announced the news at an event on 21 January, during which it unveiled the next Preview version of Windows 10 (watch the two-hour presentation at www.snipca.com/15127). For months before the event there had been speculation that Windows 10 would be a free upgrade for Windows 8 users, but Microsoft’s decision to make this also available to people on Windows 7 surprised many experts.an-introduction-to-windows-10

Those on Windows Phone 8.1 will also get the free update to Windows 10. However, Microsoft didn’t say how much Windows 10 would cost for people running XP or Vista.Once you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 for free, it will remain on your device for as long as you use it. On its website (www.snipca.com/15119) Microsoft says: “Once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time – for no additional charge”.
Some Windows users, suspicious of Microsoft’s motives, have asked on social media whether there is a catch. In the above quote, Microsoft has underlined the word ‘qualified’.

Clicking it takes you to the small print: “It is our intent that most of these devices will qualify, but some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device”.Microsoft says that to get the free upgrade, your device “must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled”. These conditions appear to be fairly standard and reasonable. It seems likely that most Computeractive readers using Windows 7 or 8/8.1 will be eligible for the free upgrade.

START MENU RETURNS, CORTANA ARRIVES

Microsoft also confirmed that the Start menu will return in Windows 10, pleasing the many Windows 8 users who have found that its absence makes the operating system hard to operate. It has the list layout familiar to users of Windows 7, combined with the tile set-up of Windows 8. You can pin apps, Desktop programs and folders to the Start menu, giving you easy access to your most
commonly used items. But there’s no search bar in the Start menu. Instead, following feedback from users of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade (1)

Microsoft has integrated the search bar into the Taskbar. This means it will always be visible, rather than only appearing when you open the Start menu. The most innovative new feature in Windows 10 looks set to be Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated ‘personal assistant’. Already available on some Windows phones and tablets, Cortana will be built into Windows 10. You can type questions as well as ask them, and tell Cortana to perform actions, such as send emails and take notes. Cortana will also be able to search your hard drives and online OneDrive storage, finding specific file formats and files from time periods – for example, “show me photos from December”.

INTERNET EXPLORER DIES, NEW OFFICE APPS BORN

Microsoft confirmed the rumours we reported in Issue 441 – that it will replace Internet Explorer with a new browser codenamed Project Spartan. Its standout feature is that it lets you draw on and annotate web pages using your keyboard or stylus. It also has a new interface that many observers said looks similar to Google’s Chrome browser. It contains tabs in the title bar, and the address bar inside those tabs. The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade (2)

You will also be able to use Cortana within the new browser, as well as save web pages for offline reading and sync them between devices. The company said that Windows 10 has been designed to adapt to the device it’s on, whether that’s a desktop PC, laptop, Xbox, phone or tablet, and will adjust the user experience to match. This should make it far easier than Windows 8 to use on a traditional desktop PC, with a keyboard and mouse.

However, it also contains a touchscreen interface, similar to Windows 8’s. With Windows 10, any app available from the Windows Store will work on all Windows devices, giving you the same set of apps on your phone, PC and tablet. Microsoft is working on its own set of “universal” apps, with Office, Photos, Music and Outlook Mail set to be the first to launch. It says it wants to “offer a consistent, touch-first experience across phone, tablet and PC”. A day after the event, Microsoft announced that Office 2016 will be released later this year.

AND FINALLY. . . A ‘HOLOGRAPHIC’ HEADSET

The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade (4)

The biggest surprise of the event came in the shape of Windows Holographic. The software, which is built into Windows 10, lets developers create virtual 3D environments which can be displayed to the user via an augmented-reality headset, called HoloLens (see image above). Microsoft suggested it could be used by space scientists exploring a virtual Martian landscape and architects and interior designers planning and visualising construction and décor.

Android Preview

Android

Let’s all be honest here, Android was pretty rubbish when itfirst came out in 2008. Android 1.0 was in a very infant state; it wasn’t really fair to compare it to iOS at the time, which had a massive headstart as it was Apple’s innovation baby at the time. But now iOS and Android have improved so much, at times both operating systems intertwine to a point where they seem almost identical. Google got us by surprise with the announcement of Android N.

It was announced even before Google’s I/O event in May. Marshmallow 6.0 (Android M) only started rolling out properly a little while ago. Google is now more than halfway through the alphabet (maybe it will move to the Klingon alphabet?). You can try Android N yourself; the developer’s preview is available for all (have a look at our How To guide). Android N has been dubbed by some as the next upgrade. It is but this is the first preview with only a handful of new features on showcase. It is more Android 6.1, with mostly aesthetic upgrades and some cool features we immediately fell in love with. It is a great sign of what’s to come for Android. Expect more previews in the run up to summer.

  • Notifications

    Notifications get a huge revamp in the aesthetics department with a fresh look and making use of huge screens. Notifications are now wider, taking up more of the screen to reveal more information without having to tap in. Notifications are also bundled to avoid a massive list sprawling down your phone. Tapping into your notifications reveal options, so you can archive emails or even silence your Twitter feed, without having to enter the native apps Direct reply Google has listened to the feedback and it has delivered. Android Preview (4)Direct replying from notifications is now a native Android feature. This should be in the top two of features that survives the eventual cull, before Android N’s official unveiling and rebranding. Third-party apps worked very well with direct replying. WhatsApp suffered no lag or crashing, nor did messages fail to get through. The convenience needs no description here; iOS users know this luxury fully well. We want to see it applied to social media, replying directly to Snapchat messages would save a lot of time.

  • Settings

    Google is embracing the big phones with Android N, as more people are buying devices with more screen real estate. Android N settings reveal more information on screen to cut down screen tapping. The benefit here is pretty obvious. Android Preview (6)Underneath each option is the information you would desire. Storage shows how many gigabytes you have got left, apps reveal how many have been installed and battery reveals the lifespan in percentage (not on the home screen weirdly) and timespan. There’s also a swipe-out side menu when you are in settings. We don’t think it really saves steps but it is pretty handy, not having to reach down to the back button.

  • Quick settingsAndroid Preview (7)

    Google has taken a note out of Samsung’s book here with the quick settings up top. TouchWiz and HTC Sense proved even though it is a small feature, it is one that is extremely useful. You can turn on your flashlight, turn on mobile data and switch off Wi-Fi with ease. Drag down the quick settings opens up more setting options, which is now paginated to accommodate more options. The options can be edited and swapped around so that your most used ones can be a quick setting. Customisation is what the Android experience is all about and it is now even more so, much to our delight.

  • Night mode

    Night Mode is sneakily hidden in the system UI. You can find it by swiping down the quick settings menu and long pressing the settings button on the top right. Your phone will congratulate you, saying you have unlocked the system UI tuner. Tap into system UI tuner and you will find a feature Google omitted from the Android M preview, and that was even more sneakily hidden. Night Mode is a feature we hope won’t get curved to the side this time. Android Preview (1)
    It most likely won’t, seeing as it appeared last year, but more so because iOS 9.3 introduced Night Mode just recently. Turning on Night Mode applies a brownish tint, much like a pair of sunglasses, on your screen to save you from that bright and powerful QHD display. It can also be set to turn on automatically, depending on the time zone you are in. We are assuming it is supposed to be on at sunset but it is quite finicky and forgot its cue. Night Mode was by far the buggiest feature out of the bunch. At the time of writing we can’t seem to get out of it…

  • Multi Window

    This was the first Android N feature to be confirmed. Via a Reddit AMA, the Pixel C team confirmed it was working on the feature three months ago. Samsung and LG already enjoy multi-window in their Android skins; it’s probably the showiest feature in Android N. By simply holding down the multitasking button, you’ll be treated to two windows to play with.Android Preview (2)
    It is not refined as expected being a preview. You can’t watch videos while browsing Facebook. Videos pause as soon as you touch the other window. Samsung’s TouchWiz can do this no problem, even playing two videos at the same time (which is obviously futile). Hopefully Google fixes this. Watching a video while looking at Facebook is a very common practice. Multi- window will be a lot more useful for tablets and would definitely help shift a lot more Nexus tablets.

  • Doze mode

    A sleeper hit from Android Marshmallow, Google’s sneaky way to make your device save a lot more energy. The best way to describe it is a deep standby mode. Android N evolves Doze Mode by enabling it to thoroughly limit background tasks when on standby. Doze Mode had some criticism, with some users complaining it doesn’t really work. Android Preview (3)
    This is due to deteriorating battery life as a device ages, so the average person wouldn’t really notice Doze Mode in action. We found Doze Mode to be a lot more effective in Android N, extended battery life is always a winner and you can be sure to expect this revamp to make it into the final version of Android N. Doze Mode 2.0 is basically Batman, always in the dark, rescuing you without you realising. Doze Mode 2.0 is the hero you deserve but not the one you get right now.

  • Multi tasking

    Last but definitely not the least, probably our favourite Android N feature. With Android N you are able to switch between apps with a double tap of the multi- tasking button. It made it a lot easier to copy and paste something with no delay before you forget what you were about to do! Opening up the multi-tasking menu has been optimised with your most recent app being dragged all the way to the bottom of the screen, making it a more streamlined experience when you want to scroll through previous apps. Strangely jumping through different apps did not crash our 6P at all. Google seemed to have really worked out the kink before it unleashed this developer’s preview. Android N, Android Nougat or whatever it is going to call it, will be a welcomed upgrade.