Windows Media Player was once the default media player included in Windows. However, Microsoft is no longer updating WMP; and the Groove Music and Movies & TV apps have replaced it as the media player defaults in Windows 10. Nevertheless, Windows Media Player is still in Windows 10, albeit without DVD playback support. This is how you can customize Windows Media Player 12.
Customizing the Windows Media Player Skins
Skins are one of the best ways you can customize Windows Media Player. They’ll transform the Now Playing mode in Windows Media Player with an entirely new theme. You can add a variety of new skins to the software from this page. Click Download under a skin listed there to save it to Windows.
Next, open the folder you saved the skin to and click the skin’s file. Then press the Yes > View Now buttons to open Windows Media Player. It will open with the new skin that you downloaded as shown in the snapshot below.
To open a list of skins in Windows Media Player, you can click View > Skin Chooser. That will open a list of the skins you’ve added to the software as below. You can select a skin there and then click Apply Skin to open it in the Now Playing mode. Alternatively, select a skin there and press the X button to delete it.
Adding New Visualizations to Windows Media Player
Unlike Groove Music, Windows Media Player has visualizations in the Now Playing mode. You can select alternative visualizations by right-clicking them in the Now Playing mode and then selecting Visualizations to open the submenu shown below. Note that not all WMP skins support visualizations.
You can add some new visualizations to the software from the “Visualizations for Windows Media Player” page. Click Download under a visualization to save it to a folder. Then open the folder and click the visualization file to add it to WMP. You should find it listed on the Visualizations submenu.
Customize the Windows Media Player Navigation Pane
On the left of the WMP library window there’s a navigation pane with which you can browse through your media with. You can customize that navigation pane by right-clicking Album and selecting Customize navigation pane. That will open the window in the image below.
Now you can add more navigation categories to the left of the library from this window. For example, under Pictures you could select Tags, Date taken and Rating. Click OK to apply the new settings, and the library pane will include those categories as below. To quickly revert back to the original settings, press the Restore Defaults button on the Customize Navigation Pane window.
Customizing the Windows Media Player with Plug-ins
There are a few plug-ins you can add to Windows Media Player. One of those is Windows Media Player Plus that includes some extra options to further customize the software with. Open this page and press Download now to save the Media Player Plus setup wizard to Windows 10. Run through the setup wizard to add the plug-in to WMP.
When you’ve done that, open Windows Media Player (enter ‘Windows Media Player’ in Cortana search box to find it). The Windows Media Player Plus! Settings window in the snapshots below will then open. That includes a number of settings to customize WMP with.
First, you can make a few customizations to the Windows Media Player library by selecting Library on the left. That will open the three check box options shown in the snapshot directly below.
The Enable ‘Find as you type’ and Disable group headers in the Library Pane options might already be selected. If so, you can deselect those settings to further customize the library. If the Disable group headers option isn’t selected, the Music list includes album group titles as below. If you don’t select the Enable ‘Find as you type’ setting, typing anywhere in the library isn’t going to search for media.
You can customize the hotkeys, or keyboard shortcuts, in Windows Media Player by selecting Hotkeys to open the options directly below. Click the Enable global hotkeys check box there, and then select a hotkey to modify from the list. Then you can select four Keys check boxes and enter a key in the text box to change the keyboard shortcut keys to something else.
Alternatively, add an entirely new hotkey to WMP by pressing the Add button. Choose an action for the hotkey from the Action drop-down menu. Then you can set up a keyboard shortcut for it with the check boxes and text box below the drop-down menu. Click Apply and OK to apply any new hotkey settings. Note that as they’re global hotkeys, you can still use them when Windows Media Player isn’t the active, selected window.
Add New Backgrounds to the Windows Media Player Library
Windows Media Player doesn’t include any options to customize its library backgrounds. However, you can still customize those backgrounds with the WMP 12 Library Background Changer software. Open this website page and click Download WMP12 Library Background Changer to save its Zip to Windows 10. Open the Zip and press Extract all in File Explorer to set up an extracted folder for it. Then you can open the program’s window below (with Windows Media Player closed).
Now you can add a custom wallpaper to the WMP library background. Press Replace and then choose a wallpaper image to add to the background. Then close the WMP12 Library Background Changer window and open Windows Media Player. The library will include the new background as shown below.
Alternatively, you could select to add the desktop wallpaper to Windows Media Player library. Press the Replace with Wallpaper button to select the wallpaper on desktop. Close the software’s window as before and run Windows Media Player, which will now have the same background as your desktop. Press the Restore button on the WMP12 Library Background Changer window to restore the defaults settings.
Now you can customize Windows Media Player with skins, plug-ins and the WMP12 Library Background Changer software. Windows Media Player has more customization options and settings than the new media apps in Windows 10. So it’s a better media player than Groove Music and Movies & TV at the moment.