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Zune Software Basics

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  1. The Basics
  2. Options, Controls, and Functions
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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Options, Controls, and Functions

This section looks at the various areas of the Zune software and explains its functions.

Navigation pane

The Navigation pane (Figure 3.15) is the area on the left side of the Zune software's main window. Click the links in this pane to go wherever you want to go, whether it's the Zune Marketplace main page or the album list in your personal Zune library.

Figure 3.15

Figure 3.15 The Navigation pane.

The following sections discuss the areas you can access from this pane.


Clicking the main Marketplace link in the Navigation pane takes you to the main page of Zune Marketplace. If you click any of the categories below it instead—say, Artist, Charts, or Playlists—you immediately go to that area within the Marketplace.The results of your clicks are displayed in the Details pane in the middle of the window.

You can choose any of the following Marketplace categories:

  • Playlists displays the Playlists area of Zune Marketplace.
  • Charts shows you the charts so that you can see what's tops in sales and popularity.
  • Active Downloads shows you the downloads that are currently queued or downloading (Figure 3.16).
  • Artist organizes by artist.
  • Album organizes by album.
  • Songs lists content by song.
  • Genre breaks down music for sale by genre.
  • Year breaks down music by the year it was created/released.
Figure 3.16

Figure 3.16 Active downloads are displayed in the Details pane.


The Library section of the Navigation pane represents the actual files on your computer's hard drive (in the My Documents > My Music > Zune folder). The Library categories help you organize by particular methods, which are:

  • Recently Added shows the content most recently added to your library.
  • Artist organizes by artist.
  • Album organizes by album.
  • Songs lists content by song.
  • Genre breaks down music for sale by genre.
  • Year breaks down music by the year it was created/released.
  • Rating organizes content by your rating (1 to 5 stars).


The Playlists category simply lists all the playlists you've created (Figure 3.17). If you have a huge number of playlists, however, you'll see only the top six or seven of them and a Show All button; to display all your playlists, click Show All.

Figure 3.17

Figure 3.17 The first six or seven playlists are combined here.


The inbox is the place where items you've flagged are placed. (See Chapter 5 for the how-to on flagging.) If you flag a piece of music or a video, it appears in the inbox as an opportunity for you to erase it, contemplate it, download it, or purchase it.

The content's status is listed on the right side of the Details pane (Figure 3.18). If you want to purchase or download an item, simply click the Purchase or Download link; it's that simple.

Figure 3.18

Figure 3.18 The inbox shows you flagged items and their status.

List pane

The List pane is the area on the right side of the screen. The information you see in this pane depends on the four buttons at the top of the pane: Playlist, Burn Files to Disc, Synchronize, or Now Playing (Figure 3.19).

Figure 3.19

Figure 3.19 These four buttons control the display in the List pane.

Create and edit playlists

Click the Playlist button (refer to Figure 3.19) to create and edit complex playlists in the Zune software. All you have to do is drag the album, the artist, or individual songs to the area of the List pane that says Drag items here to create a playlist (Figure 3.20).

Figure 3.20

Figure 3.20 Creating a playlist is as easy as dropping songs in the List pane.

The top of the List pane shows you how many items are in the playlist and how many minutes the playlist occupies (Figure 3.21). This is important, because standard audio CDs can hold about 80 minutes of music, so if you are planning on burning the playlist to an audio CD, you need to watch its size.

Figure 3.21

Figure 3.21 Keep an eye on the playlist's size.

The drop-down menu at the top of the playlist (Figure 3.22) gives you access to a slew of commands, including these:

  • Shuffle List Now shuffles the songs in the playlist, which is handy if you want a random spread to burn onto a CD.
  • Sort sorts songs by the usual means (artist, songs, genre, album, release date, rating, and file name).
  • Rename Playlist lets you change the playlist's name.
  • Save Playlist As saves your handiwork.
  • Create Playlist lets you start from scratch.
  • Edit Playlist lets you change the content of a playlist.
Figure 3.22

Figure 3.22 A playlist's drop down menu.

Burn files to CD

Click the Burn Files to Disc button (refer to Figure 3.19) to bring up the CD-burning display.

Before you begin the process, you need to choose between a data CD and an audio CD. An audio CD is the kind that plays in any audio CD or DVD player, whereas a data CD usually works only in a computer.

Make your choice from the Burn Options drop-down menu (Figure 3.23), which also lets you rename the disc and level the volume across all tracks on the CD.

Figure 3.23

Figure 3.23 You have plenty of options in the Burn Options menu.

To burn a disc, insert a blank CD into your computer's CD/DVD drive and drag your desired content to the section of the List pane that says Drag items here to create a burn list. Then click the Start Burn button at the bottom of the List pane.

Sync up

Click the Synchronize button (refer to Figure 3.19) to see the Synchronize area (Figure 3.24), which asks you to connect a Zune device. Then you can do a general sync, which synchronizes your entire library with the Zune, or a custom sync.

Figure 3.24

Figure 3.24 The Synchronize area works much like the Playlist area. The Sync Options drop-down menu lets you customize the process.

To do a general sync, simply connect the Zune and then click the Start Sync button (unless you've set up the Zune to synchronize automatically, in which case the process starts by itself). If your Zune is set to sync manually, and you want to synchronize only certain files, drag them to the List pane and then click the Start Sync button. That's it!

See what's playing

When you click the Now Playing button (refer to Figure 3.19), the List pane displays information on whatever you're looking at in the Navigation pane, so if you're looking at a particular album, that album is displayed.

Change Layout menu

The Change Layout menu contains three view options: Icon, Tile, and Details. Details view displays songs in the Details pane with as much information as possible (Figure 3.25).

Figure 3.25

Figure 3.25 Details view.

Tile view, however, provides a nice combination of album covers and information (Figure 3.26), and Icon view displays generic icons.

Figure 3.26

Figure 3.26 Tile view.

The last option in the Change Layout menu, Choose Columns, displays a dialog box (Figure 3.27) that lets you decide exactly what columns are displayed when you view your songs in the Details pane. If you want to remove the Length category and replace it with Mood, for example, go right ahead.

Figure 3.27

Figure 3.27 The Choose Columns dialog box allows you to set up the columns (categories or classifications) in which your songs are displayed.

Options and Help menu

The Options and Help menu contains many settings that you can tweak (Figure 3.28). You can also use the Options dialog box (covered later in the chapter) to alter key aspects of the Zune software.

Figure 3.28

Figure 3.28 This menu lets you customize the Zune software.

The following sections describe the main options in this menu.


The Playback options allow you to turn the visualizer on and off, as well as adjust the equalizer settings (Figure 3.29):

  • Acoustic
  • Classical
  • Electronica
  • Hip Hop
  • Jazz
  • Pop
  • Rock
  • Off
Figure 3.29

Figure 3.29 You can access the equalizer settings by choosing Options and Help > Playback > Equalizer.

The Help with Playback option is also available in the Help section (described later in this chapter), and More Options takes you to the Options dialog box.


The Library options allow you to adjust the media-sharing settings for the Xbox 360 and for other computers connected to your network. Also, Find Info for All Albums sends the Zune software out on the Internet to look for more details on all the music in your library, from album art to the spelling of artists' names.


The Rip options let you rip the current CD in your CD/DVD drive, as well as set what format the music is ripped into (WMA or MP3) and the bit rate (quality level). For details on the process, see the "Ripping a CD" sidebar later in this chapter.


The Burn options allow you to burn playlists to audio or data CDs. You can also apply volume leveling across all tracks so that there are no drastic differences in volume between tracks on the newly created CD.


The options in this submenu are much like those in the Sync Options drop-down list, in that they allow you to find a connected Zune and synchronize it with the library on your PC.


Choose the Help command to open the Help Center (Figure 3.30), which is a great asset and should be the first place you look when you're really stumped. The Help Center gives you information about nearly every aspect of using your Zune in easy-to-understand language.

Figure 3.30

Figure 3.30 The Zune Help Center is an outstanding reference.

Sign In menu

The Sign In menu (Figure 3.32) is where you log into your Zune/Windows Live account. It's also where you access the Account Management area to change such things as your password, billing information, and address, as well as to purchase Zune Passes and Microsoft Points.

Figure 3.32

Figure 3.32 The Sign In menu.

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