Creating a random playlist with Zune and Windows Media Player

Nokia E71, Technical stuff
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This is one of these silly things that I keep forgetting, so allow me to quickly jot it down so that I know where to look next time.

The issue is: How can you fill your mobile player with a random choice of music, when it is too small to fit all your collection. In my case, I use my new Nokia E71 phone as an occasional player for music. It is nice because it has integrated Bluetooth, and I have a Bluetooth stereo headset, so you can leave the phone in your pocket and listen wirelessly. In addition, you can also control the player (play, pause, skip, etc…). However, I have “only” a 2GB card in that, so no way my whole music collection will fit there.

Another issue is that Windows Media Player can be used to synchronize music of your choice to the E71 (simply mount it as a mass media storage, and WMP will automatically detect it). However, WMP cannot (at least to the best of my knowledge) create totally random playlists. Thankfully, the Zune player can do this. Let’s see how:

Creating a playlist

  1. In the Zune player, select Collection and then Music.

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  1. In the bottom, click on “New Autoplaylist”.

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  1. Name the playlist, for example “E71Auto”.
  2. Set the settings as displayed. You can decided how many songs you want to add. It is unfortunate that you cannot choose a maximum size for the whole songs like you can do in WMP. I guess both platforms have their limitations, and I hope this will change some day.

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  1. Click on OK. The list is executed and your 300 songs appear. Note that they have been chose completely randomly.

Then we need to import the playlist in WMP. To do this, you simply need to copy it and change the extension.

  1. Locate the playlist on your hard drive. It should be named “E71Auto.zpl”.
  2. Copy it and rename it to “E71Auto.wpl”.

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  1. Double click on the copied playlist. This opens it in Windows Media Player.

At this stage, you can play the auto playlist if you like, or you can synchronize it with your mobile device.

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Refreshing a playlist

If you’re sick of hearing the same old songs over and over again, time to load some fresh tunes to your device.

  1. Open the Zune player.
  2. Under Collection / Music, you should see the Auto playlist you created the last time.
  3. Right click and select “Refresh”. This will load 300 different songs in the play list.
  4. Again, locate the playlist E71Auto.zpl on your harddrive and copy it. Rename the copy to E71Auto.wpl and open it into Windows Media Player.

The process of having to copy the playlist from ZPL to WPL is really annoying, and I hope that the functionality of choosing random songs for an auto playlist will be added in WMP. Unfortunately, since this has been missing for so long, I don’t expect this to happen soon. In the mean time, the workaround works…

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