Synchronising music, ringtones and podcasts using your computer
There are all sorts of ways to get your music, ringtones, and podcasts between your Windows Phone and your computer using the cloud, but sometimes the fastest way is the old-fashioned way – plugging your phone into your computer.
You can keep it simple by adding files with File Explorer (called Windows Explorer in some versions of Windows), or you can use one of the Windows Phone apps. The Windows Phone app for desktop is a great way to sync with iTunes or add ringtones in Windows 8 or Windows 7. If you prefer a clean, modern interface that you can use on the Start screen, try the Windows Phone app for Windows 8.
If you're not sure which app is best for you, you can use the Sync wizard (US English only) to help you decide.
- If you use a Windows Phone 7 and a PC, you'll need to use the Zune software.
- If your computer is having trouble detecting your phone when you plug it in, see Windows Phone 8 is not detected by your computer.
- If you use a Mac, you'll want the Windows Phone app for Mac.
- Seeing double? If you have an Xbox Music Pass and your songs show up twice, use the Windows Phone app for desktop or Windows Phone app for Mac to transfer your music files instead of File Explorer.
- Protected (DRM) media files you get from services other than Xbox Music Pass can't be copied or synchronised between your PC and your Windows Phone. DRM media files from Xbox Music Pass or Zune Pass can be synchronised to your phone using the Windows Phone app for desktop or Windows Phone app for Mac.
Using File Explorer (Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP)
If you simply want to move your music from one place to another, the easiest way is to use File Explorer (called Windows Explorer in some versions of Windows).
To add music, ringtones or podcasts
Do one of the following:
- If you're using Windows 8, go to Desktop view, then open File Explorer from the taskbar.
- If you're using Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP, open Windows Explorer from the taskbar.
Under Computer (called This PC on some versions of Windows), click your phone's name, then click Phone.
To move files between your phone and your PC, right-click the file you want to copy and click Copy.
Right-click in the folder you want to move the file to and click Paste. If you're adding music, ringtones or podcasts to your phone, make sure to paste the file into the Music, Ringtones or Podcasts folder so your phone will be able to find and recognise it.
- If you connect your phone to a PC running Windows XP, your PC may mistakenly ask you to install software that isn't available. If you get this wizard, click Cancel – you don't need to install the software. You'll then be able to use Windows Explorer to move files between your phone and your computer.
- To use Windows Explorer in Windows XP, your PC must have Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed.
- To learn more about copying files using Windows Explorer or synchronising files with Windows Media Player, go to the Windows website and search in the How-to section.
Using Windows Phone app for desktop (Windows 8 and Windows 7)
The Windows Phone app for desktop lets you sync music and podcasts between your phone and your Windows 8 or Windows 7 PC, and add ringtones to your phone. You can choose to sync with your Windows Libraries or with iTunes. If you don't have the app yet, you can get it at the Windows Phone app for desktop download page.
The Windows Phone app for desktop is not available in all countries or regions.
To sync music
In the Windows Phone app for desktop, in the top-right corner, click PC, then click Music.
Make sure the Sync music checkbox is ticked.
Do one of the following:
- To sync some of your collection, select any playlists, genres, artists or albums you want to sync.
- To sync your entire music collection, tick the Sync all music checkbox.
To sync podcasts
In the Windows Phone app for desktop, in the top-right corner, click PC, then click Podcasts.
Make sure the Sync podcasts checkbox is ticked.
In the Sync list, choose how many episodes you want to sync and whether you want to sync unplayed episodes only.
Do one of the following:
- To sync some of your podcasts, select the ones you want to sync.
- To sync all of your podcasts, tick the Sync all podcasts checkbox.
To learn more about podcasts, see Getting music, videos and podcasts.
To add ringtones
The Windows Phone app for desktop can tell which of your songs will work as ringtones.
In the Windows Phone app for desktop, in the top-right corner, click PC, then click Ringtones.
Select any of the songs you'd like to use as ringtones on your phone, then click Add.
You can assign ringtones to events on your phone like notifications or reminders, and to contacts for when they call or text you. To learn more about assigning ringtones on your phone, see Ringtones, sounds and volume.
- To use custom ringtones for things other than phone calls, your phone needs to have Windows Phone software version 8.0.10501.127 or later. See How do I update my phone software? for more information about updating your phone.
- To learn more about ringtones and other sounds on your phone, see Ringtones, sounds and volume.
To save things to your PC or delete them from your phone
In the Windows Phone app for desktop, in the top-right corner, click Phone, then click Music or Podcasts.
If you have an SD card and you can't see what you're looking for, try adjusting your filters by clicking the drop-down arrow above the storage display (at the bottom) and selecting SD card.
Select the items or folders you want to delete or move. (If the options don't appear automatically, click or swipe up from the bottom of the screen to show them.)
Click either Save to PC or Delete.
- To find the things you've saved, open File Explorer on your PC, then go to the Music, Pictures or Videos folder to see your files.
- If you delete something from your phone that you've selected to sync, it will be added to your phone again the next time you sync.
Using Windows Phone app (Windows 8)
The Windows Phone app has a modern interface that highlights album art and makes it easy to add music and playlists from locations on your PC. To get the Windows Phone app, just plug your phone into your computer and the app will download automatically. Or, if you'd prefer, you can get it from the Windows Store.
To add music or playlists
In the Windows Phone app, click Add to phone, then click either Add music or Add playlists.
Do one of the following:
- Click a folder to choose specific songs to add.
- To choose a different folder, click Go up.
- To add a whole folder, right-click the folder.
Right-click each song or playlist you want to add. All of the files you choose will appear at the bottom of the app.
When you've chosen all of the songs or folders you want, click Add.
- If you use a password to lock your phone, you may need to unlock your phone before you can use these apps and File Explorer (or Windows Explorer).
- You have a couple options for moving documents from your phone to other places. One is to plug your phone into your PC and use either File Explorer or Windows Explorer (depending on whether you're using Windows 8 or Windows 7). A second way is to use OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive). To learn more, see Synchronising documents with OneDrive.