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<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/wmp01.png”>Windows Media Player is Microsoft’s own media player that comes pre-installed with all its operating systems. To enhance the dull default WMP experience, I have tracked down some of the coolest and most useful Windows Media Player plugins out there, most of which will work with both Windows XP and Windows 7.
Finally make all embedded media player files work in Firefox (Windows 7), put your computer to sleep after your playlist concludes (Windows XP), get lyrics from songs you’re playing, sharpen blurry videos, and share with your friends what you’re listening to right now. Does any of this sound good? Then read on!
Per default, Windows Media Player integrates with Firefox and installs a plugin called “Windows Media Player Plug-in Dynamic Link Library” (ID: pdsplay.dll). However, there have been some “missing plugin” issues. Thus Microsoft has developed a new plugin for Windows XP and up, which solves the problems and also adds some new features. This Firefox Plugin (ID: np-mswmp.dll) must be downloaded and installed separately. Before you run the .exe file that will install the new plugin, close Firefox.
To test whether you actually need the plugin, I recommend this Mozilla test page. After installing the plugin, the test worked flawlessly in Windows 7. However, under Windows XP I only got the sound, not the WMP display or video. Mozilla provides more background information here.
2. Sleep Timer
First of all I should note that this plugin is fairly old (2005) and only worked with WMP 11 on Windows XP. Furthermore, you have to sign up to The Code Project website before you can download the plugin. The plugin will be listed under > Options > Plug-Ins > Background > Armen Hakobyan’s Background Sleep Timer.
Now, the purpose of this plugin is to put your computer to sleep after your playlist has concluded. If it doesn’t display automatically, go to full mode and then open > View > Plug-Ins and select > Armen Hakobyan’s Sleep Timer. From its onscreen menu you can select the > Standby Mode, which can also be to shut down the computer and select whether or not to > Mute Sound. Before you can click > Start Timer you have to start a playlist or at least one song. At the end of that piece, the plugin will come into effect.
This is a great plugin for music lovers. If your computer is connected to the internet while you play your tunes, it will automatically search for the lyrics to the current song and display them in the “Now Playing” window. Unfortunately, the lyrics disappear when you switch to full-screen mode. Instead, WMP displays the available album art.
This plugin was tested successfully on Windows XP and Windows 7. And by the way, it is also available for Winamp.
An alternative to this plugin is LyricsSeeker, which is also available for iTunes and Winamp. The difference is that the lyrics are opened in the browser, not in the media player itself.
Many videos, whether downloaded or streamed, tend to be somewhat blurry, which is a result of reducing the resolution and hence the file size. This flaw becomes ever more annoying, when the videos are viewed in fullscreen view on a high resolution screen. PixelFusion is an attempt to fix this issue.
Once installed, the settings of the plugin can be found under > Options > Plug-Ins > Video-DSP > Pixelfusion Plugin > Properties button. The edge crispness can be varied from soft to hard. In the example below I took screenshots of the original video (middle) and with PixelFusion using hard (left) and medium (right) edge crispness. The difference is quite obvious.
The plugin was tested successfully on Windows XP and Windows 7.
5. Now Playing
Now Playing allows you to share what music you are currently listening to with your friends on Facebook, fans on Twitter, or visitors to your homepage. It’s very simple to setup for Twitter and Facebook.
The options window will launch automatically, when you first start WMP after installing Now Playing. If you need to access it later, note that the plugin is found in the > Background category within WMP’s > Plug-Ins options.
To get started, follow the simple setup steps shown in tabs for Twitter or Facebook. Then add a message and use the suggested tags to announce what you are listening to. For example use “<artist> <title>” to submit the respective details. Finally, check the box next to > On to enable the updates and it should work. The result will look something like this:
Some more skill is required to make this work on your homepage. However, the download page itself provides a thorough walkthrough. The plugin was tested successfully in Windows XP and Windows 7. A similar plugin, that will share your songs in mIRC, is WMPmIRC.
Can you recommend other Windows Media Player plugins?