Take Control Of Autoplay Settings

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Stop AutoPlay launching the wrong programs for CDs, DVDs and USB drives

Change the default music player

Autorun and AutoPlay dictate what happens when you open certain files or insert a CD or USB drive. If you insert a CD and Windows Media Player launches, but you actually wanted iTunes to launch and rip the CD to your library, go to AutoPlay (Start, Control Panel, Hardware and Sound, AutoPlay) and change the first two settings for Audio CD and ‘Enhanced audio CD’ to ‘Import songs using iTunes’ and ‘Shows songs using iTunes’.

Autoplay CDs and DVDs

Autoplay CDs and DVDs

Open unrecognized files

Sometimes Windows won’t recognize a file you know it should be able to open. To fix this, right-click the file, click ‘Open with’, ‘Choose default program’ (if this option is given). Then browse to and select the installed program. Alternatively click ‘Use the Web service to find the correct program’. Click the program to select it then click OK to make the change.

If you don’t have a program installed that can open the file, ask Microsoft to find one online

If you don’t have a program installed that can open the file, ask Microsoft to find one online

Stop AutoPlay switching off

AutoPlay sometimes turns itself off without being asked to. If AutoPlay normally imports photos from an SD card but stops doing so, first try turning this option back on, in Windows 7 go to Control Panel, Hardware and Sound, AutoPlay. Tick ‘Use AutoPlay for all media and devices’. You can then change individual settings for each file type, in Windows 8 search in Charms for AutoPlay and select Settings to see all the options.

Fix unresponsive USB devices

If you use Windows XP and nothing happens when you insert a CD or USB device, run the AutoPlay Repair Wizard ( to check for problems. Once the repair tool has made its changes you should see a prompt each time you insert a removable storage device.

Enable XP’s AutoPlay for USB drives, CDs and DVDs

TweakUI ( is a free Microsoft toolkit for changing Windows XP settings. It’s ideal for fixing AutoPlay problems. Launch TweakUI, click the plus symbol next to My Computer, then AutoPlay, Types. Here you can enable or disable AutoPlay for USB and CD and DVD drives, which is handy if you're fed up with AutoPlay kicking in whenever you insert a CD.

Tweak UI

Tweak UI

Set import options by device

You can set AutoPlay to automatically import photos and videos from a camera, phone or tablet whenever you connect it to your computer. To change AutoPlay’s import settings for a specific device go to Control Panel, AutoPlay and scroll down to the list of devices. Select ‘Import pictures and videos using Windows’ (or your chosen software program). From now on this device will always be listed in your AutoPlay menu.

Change which program opens photos

When you install new software it sometimes changes the computer’s AutoPlay settings. For example, photo-editing programs attempt to become the default photo viewer and editor, to change the default photo viewer, right-click on any photo, click ‘Open with’, ‘Choose default program’. Windows will show a list of Recommended Programs. If the program you want to use isn’t listed, click the down arrow next to Other Programs. If the program still isn’t listed, click Browse to find it. Select the program and click OK. From now on photos will launch and open in this program.

Use an SD card or USB stick as extra memory

Insert a USB stick or SD card and you should see an AutoPlay option to ‘Speed up my system’. If this option doesn’t appear, click Computer, right-click the external storage drive and select Properties, ReadyBoost. If you want Windows to use all the space on the device to boost system speed, select ‘Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost’. Click ‘Use this device’ and adjust the slider to set the amount of memory used to boost your computer’s RAM.

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