Does Anyone Know How Windows Media Player Writes Your Star Ratings to Your Files?

How Does Windows Media Player Write Your Star Ratings

One of the things that I’ve been worrying about lately is all of the time that I spend rating music and how portable these ratings are. I’ve got over 100,000 mp3s at this point, most all of which I’ve ripped personally myself from CDs over the years, and for the past several years I’ve been using Microsoft’s Windows Media Player to rate these songs on a one to five star scale. Windows Media Player has an option that you can check under the library tab titled “maintain my star ratings as global ratings in files.” I have that option checked and have always assumed that as I rate songs in Windows Media Player that it is in fact actually doing what it is supposed to and actually writing these ratings to my mp3 files. And many of my songs in my music library do in fact have ratings associated with the files.

But lately I’ve been noticing that after I rate a song in Windows Media Player that if I actually go the the mp3 file itself it is not showing that same rating (see screenshot above which compares a song that I just rated in Windows Media Player with the rating shown vs. the same song in Windows explorer where it is showing no rating).

Now there could be a couple of reasons why this is happening. My first thought is that Windows Media Player does not in fact write a rating to a song file immediately. Maybe in order to improve performance it adds these ratings in batches later or when it updates your library. With my very large library maybe I just need to be patient and the rating will in fact show up in a day or two. But then again maybe my Windows Media Player library is corrupt (this actually has happened to me quite a bit and usually I know that it’s corrupted when Windows Media Player will no longer pull down meta data when I’m trying to rip new CDs).

My question is does anyone know exactly how Windows Media Player writes star ratings to your files? I actually like Windows Media Player enough to continue using it as my primary music player, but I’m worried that all of the time that I’m spending rating songs is in fact wasted time and it’s important to me that my song ratings are actually stored in my song files and not just in my windows media player library (especially since that library seems to frequently corrupt and I also want to be able to filter out my just my 5 star rated songs using Windows Explorer to copy them over to the smaller hard drive on my laptop).

Appreciate any insight from anyone who might understand how this actually works.

Update: Ok, I think I may have figured out how this works. Under the tools command is a menu item “Apply Media Information Changes.” I just ran this. The first time it hung at 0% processing giving me a server error for a long time so I googled around some more and saw that you can select to take WMP offline under the file command. After I did this and ran the “apply media information” command again, after about two hours it updated my ratings (or at least the rating on the test file I referenced above). So it seems that when you apply ratings to songs in WMP that they are just applied in the library until you apply the changes with the command to your files. Thanks by the way to Dave, who referenced this in the first comment as well.

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  1. Dave says:


    Save media information and ratings to your media files. Perform the steps in the following procedure to save media information and star ratings to your media files.

    1. In Windows Media Player 10, click the Tools menu, and then click Options.
    2. Click the Library tab, select the Maintain my star ratings as global ratings in the media files check box.
    When this check box is selected, the user ratings for your songs are saved in your media files rather than in your library database file. This process occurs in the background, so it may take some time before your ratings are saved to all of your media files.
    The next step in this procedure ensures that your ratings (and any changes that you have made to other media information) are saved to your files immediately.
    3. Click the Tools menu, and then click Process media information now.

  2. Dan says:

    Whilst the MS read-me is correct, if you’re storing and accessing the media files from a network share the write process is flakey at best! Either way I’d recommend using one of the many add-ins available out there to ensure you always have a good backup of your library.

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