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Managing Digital Movies (part 3) - Watching and Managing Movies with Windows Media Player,

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3. Watching and Managing Movies with Windows Media Player

Most people think of Windows Media Player as a music player, and sure enough, which focuses on digital music and audio. But the truth is, Windows Media Player can also work with video and photo content as well, primarily so that you can synchronize the content with portable media players and share it with other PCs and compatible network devices.) This capability isn't new to Windows Media Player 12, the version that Microsoft ships with Windows 7. However, because videos do play natively in Windows Media Player 12, it's possible that you might want to manage videos, to some degree, in the player as well. Like Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Media Player 12 is configured to automatically monitor certain folders for digital media files, and those locations include, by default, your Videos folder and the Public Videos folder. No surprise there.

NOTE

Well, maybe there is a surprise there. Windows Media Player, like Windows Live Photo Gallery, doesn't automatically monitor your Videos library but instead manually monitors the My Videos and Public Videos folders instead. And there's no way to configure it to monitor other folders, as you could with previous versions of the player.

To configure Windows Media Player to display just videos, select Videos from the Navigation pane, as shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. Windows Media Player can be the front end to your video files, assuming you store them in an obvious place.

From here, you can play, rate and rename individual videos, but that's about it. You can't add tags from within Windows Media Player, for example. (That is, if you right-click a video and choose Properties, the resulting dialog provides no way to edit tags, as you can with, say, Windows Live Photo Gallery, or from Explorer.) Typically, you're using this application to simply play videos. That's Windows Media Player's strong suit, and you can use the player's various controls to change the size of the video, display it using a nice full-screen mode, or even minimize the player to the system taskbar and watch it there while you get work done.

When you do play a video file, either from the shell or from within Windows Media Player itself, the player switches to a new Now Playing mode that automatically resizes the application window to match the size of the video (by default). As you can see in Figure 9, this new mode is attractive and space saving.

As the video begins playing, the playback controls fade away, giving you an even cleaner look. To return to the player's Library view, click the Switch to Library button in the upper-right corner of the window. (The controls will reappear when you mouse over the window.) Note that when you return to Library view, the currently playing video continues to play, even though you can't see it anymore. A Switch to Now Playing button in the bottom right of the Library view enables you to return to the show.

Figure 9. Windows Media Player has a new Now Playing mode in Windows 7 that is ideally suited for video content.

NOTE

One nice side effect of Windows Media Player's capabilities is that you can actually create temporary or saved playlists of videos. That way, you can trigger a collection of videos to play in order, or randomly. It's not possible to do that from the shell or within Windows Live Photo Gallery. And if you save the playlist, you can access it from Windows Media Center, described in the next section.

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