Digitize Your Life – Part Three – Music and Audiobook CDs

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This is the third part in our series on how to digitize all information in your life so you have less clutter and more organization.  Here are the links to parts one and two; you should probably read those first if you haven't already.  Today, we'll be talking about how to digitize anything you have on audio CD, either music, audiobooks, or business CDs.

Audio CDs are by far the easiest item in your life to digitize.  Digitizing things like DVDs, documents, and cassettes can be time consuming, but CDs are a breeze.  All you need is Microsoft Windows Media Player, which is software that already comes free with any version of Windows (if you're a Mac user, I apologize; just use whatever is equivalent).

Just launch Windows Media Player (under Start and All Programs) and insert an audio CD in your computer. The process of copying audio from a CD to a computer is called "ripping".

Once you see all the songs on the CD listed, checkmark all of them, then click "Rip" or "Start Rip". I can't tell you exactly where that button will be, since there are many versions of Windows Media Player and they always change where that button is, but if you hunt around the screen you'll see it (provided there's actually a CD in your computer's CD drive). It's usually at the top of the screen.

As soon as you press Start Rip, the software will start copying the songs to your hard drive. The process will be very fast...you can rip an entire CD (which is usually about 45 minutes long) in just a few minutes. When done, just swap out the CD with the next one and repeat the process. You can rip a huge stack of CDs in under an hour. (It's a welcome change after the tedious process of ripping all those damn cassettes, which can take days if you have many of them.)

When done ripping everything, just click on your Documents (or "My Documents") folder and go to your "My Music" folder. Whammo, you'll see all the audio files neatly organized by CD. Now all you need to do is copy these files to the removable hard drive we discussed in part one of this series.

The audio files this process creates will be WMA files instead of MP3 files, but that's okay. Just about everything plays the WMA format...even iTunes will auto-convert WMA files into MP3 files when you add it to your library for your iPod/iPhone/iPad/whatever. You don't need to convert these files to MP3 unless you're really anal about it.

That's it!  Like I said, it's not nearly as complicated as digitizing other things, which is nice.

Next in this series well talk about how to digitize DVDs and Blu-rays. Stay tuned.