How To Find Windows Media Player in Windows 8.1

Written by Brian Burgess

Yes, Virginia, Windows Media Player still lives. Here’s Brian Burgess with the easiest way to find WMP in Windows 8.1 — and set it as your default. Find a short review on the Xbox Music player here, too. That’s where WMP is hidden. Now you know … How To Gallery. — If you’re a hard core Windows Media Player fan wondering where the heck WMP is in Windows 8.1, we have good news. Our Brian Burgess’ step-by-step instructions on how to find Windows Media Player in Windows 8.1 are below — plus How To set up Windows Media Player as your default player …

Microsoft has been including Windows Media Player with every version of Windows since Windows 2000. That’s why so many people are highly invested in it. And yes, Virginia, it’s still there.

Windows Media Player turns out to be hidden in the background of the Windows 8.x Xbox Music quite a bit. But as with all versions of Windows, there’s more than one road to Rome. Here’s how to find Windows Media Player in Windows 8.1 and set it as your default music player.

Where is Windows Media Player in Windows 8.1?

Ever since the days of Windows 2000, Windows Media Player featured prominently in the Start menu — or with shortcuts already in the Taskbar. But with Windows 8.1,  you’re not going to see it. There isn’t even a tile for it on the Start screen. It’s there, though.

First, use the Windows search box to search for WMP on your system.

To bring up the search box on Windows, hit two keys — Windows Key + S.

Then type: wmp

You will immediately see Windows Media Player listed as the first result. If you’re running Windows 8.1 Update, just right-click it and add it as a tile on the Start screen. Or right-click it and pin it to the desktop taskbar.

Search Windows media Player

Screenshot image credit: Brian Burgess

Launch it and you’re ready to walk through the familiar setup wizard.

For the sake of convenience and getting this going more quickly, I just use Recommended Settings. You can always tweak settings as needed later.

The Recommended Settings will set Windows Media Player as the default for all of your media.

If you’re cool with this, there’s nothing more to do.

If you want to choose the types of files associated with WMP, then I recommend going through Custom Settings.

Windows Media Player Set Up

Image credit: Brian Burgess

Now you can start using your familiar Windows Media Player software. In case you’re wondering, there’s nothing new going on with Windows Media Player in Windows 8. 1. It’s version 12 — the same version built into MS Windows 7 — and it looks and works the same, too.

Windows Media Player on Windows 8.1

Image credit: Brian Burgess

Now that you found it, here’s how to make Windows Media Player the default music player in Windows 8.1.

If you’re new to Windows 8, you might not want to deal with learning a whole new system for managing your music. Why should you? It’s easy, after all, to make Windows Media Player the default media player in Windows 8.1 and ease into Xbox Music later.

If you chose the Recommended Settings option when first launching Windows Media Player, it is already the default for playing music and video files in Windows 8.1. If it isn’t, here’s how to set Windows Media Player as the default player in Windows 8.1 now.

From the desktop or Start screen, use the key combo Windows Key + S

Then type: default programs

Now just select Windows Media Player from the results you see.

Windows Media Player Default Programs

Image credit: Brian Burgess

In the window that comes up next, click the option to Set your default programs.

Windows Media Player Default Programs Setting

Image credit: Brian Burgess

Now scroll down the list of installed programs in the left panel and select Windows Media Player.

Then on the right, click Set this program as default.

Hit OK.

Windows Media Player Program Default

Image credit: Brian Burgess

When you open your music or video folders, you’ll see that the icons are set for WMP. Just double click what you want to play and enjoy.

Windows Media Player Dream Theater

Image credit: Brian Burgess

Some thoughts on XBox Music …

As a serious Windows user, I will say that I have crossed over to the Xbox Music player and I use it most of the time now. I purchased the Music Pass subscription for streaming songs, which is $9.99 per month and in league with others.

This system has improved a lot over the past couple of years. Recently, I even ditched my MOG (now Beats Music) subscription in favor of Xbox Music.

Xbox Music doesn’t support ripping CDs though, so that’s why you should know where Windows Media Player is located on your system. When ripping a CD, the tracks are placed in your Music folder, which Xbox Music keeps an eye on by default and adds the ripped tracks as they come in.

Do remember though, that since Windows 8 was released, Xbox Music doesn’t support DVD playback. For this I suggest a third-party tool. The freeware package VLC is my favorite third-party program for this sort of thing — and it’s the one I always recommend.

For, I’m Brian Burgess.

Based in Pelican Rapids, MN, Brian Burgess led the relaunch of BYTE with Gina Smith, co-founded with Gina, John C. Dvorak and Jerry Pournelle in 2011, and serves as the editor-in-chief of He is the How To gallery captain here Email him at or and find him on Google + and on Twitter as @mysticgeek.


  • Great How To!
    How long has WMP player been hidden like this — in Windows 8, the first version, too? thanks brian

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