Winamp – A Solid Media Player That Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows]

Tina Sieber 27-02-2013

winamp media playerWinamp is a Methuselah among the third party Windows media players. First released in 1997 and originally developed by Nullsoft, it has become a subsidiary of AOL in the meantime. However, it hasn’t lost any of its charm and we have elected it as one of our best audio tools for Windows The Best PC Software for Your Windows Computer Want the best PC software for your Windows computer? Our massive list collects the best and safest programs for all needs. Read More .


Winamp remains a beast of a media player with an extensive, yet fully customizable interface. Since its beginnings, it depended on plugins for many of its features. Winamp is a cross-platform application available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This review will focus on the Windows version fo the Winamp media player, without any but default plugins.

Winamp Media Player Setup

The first small disappointment came while installing Winamp. While it’s not sneaky about it, the setup procedure does offer to install a third party game along with Winamp. You have to check I don’t agree to opt out. Fortunately, no option is selected by default, so you cannot accidentally proceed with the ‘wrong’ choice.

When the installation is completed, you are taken through a four step setup process. Apparently, the most important and thus first step is to select a skin. This is followed by picking file associations, online services, and finally providing contact data for collection of feedback and usage statistics. All these steps are optional and you can finish the setup at any time.

The First Launch

Winamp launches in a huge multi-pane window playing its famous Llama jingle. If you have never used Winamp, this screen might be a bit overwhelming. But at least it’s comprehensive and clearly organized.

Here is a quick walk-through. The element in the top left is the actual player. It contains basic media fiile information, as well as playback and volume controls. To its right is a summary of the current file. On the far right you’ll find the playlist.


The lower 3/4 of the player contains a tabbed window. In the Media Library view you see the Library on the far left and information for any added files on its right. The other tabs contain the video (if available), audio visualization, and Winamp’s internal browser, which offers additional artist and album information via AOL Search.

winamp media player

Adding Files

To gain a better understanding of what each pane in the Media Library view does, drag&drop some audio and video files into Winamp and it will automatically organize them. Alternatively, you can go through the File menu in the top right and select Add Media to Library… This will open a small Explorer window. You can also add files by clicking the + button in the bottom left of the playlist.

Winamp - A Solid Media Player That Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows] Winamp Add Media to Library


Unfortunately, Winamp does not come with a large selection of internal video codecs, so be sure you have the necessary codecs installed Video Or Audio File Not Working? CodecInstaller May Be Your Answer [Windows] It's a miserable feeling when you've just spent hours downloading that video, by torrent, only for it to be a complete dud when you go to watch it. It's been voted, starred, commented, and reviewed... Read More to play your video files. Winamp does, however, support most audio files, including MP3, MIDI, MOD, MPEG-1, AAC, M4A, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, WAV, and WMA. In fact, it was one of the first players to support the Ogg Vorbis format by default.

Cool Feature Overview

Once the Media Library has been fed with some files, you will quickly figure out what all the different windows and panes are good for. In case you didn’t see them all, here are some cool features you shouldn’t miss.

In the Media Library tab, view your audio or video files, and click on an artist name. This will load additional artist information in a small horizontal pane at the very bottom. Click on the little i button or on the More Info link to open the AOL Music artist page within Winamp.

winamp for windows


In the top right player pane, when you right-click the scrolling song title, you get a menu that will let you view similar tracks, jump to another file (via a search), to a specific time within the playing file, or send the file to various locations including a new playlist, CD burner, or bookmarks. A similar menu opens when you right-click files in the playlist.

winamp for windows

Winamp’s look can be fully customized. For example you can change the content that the area between the player and the playlist shows. Click the small button in its lower right and choose what you want to see.

winamp for windows


If you would like to see a more compact view of Winamp, you can hide the playlist through the View menu or by clicking [ALT] + [E]. Moreover, you can collapse the lower 3/4 window by clicking the button in the bottom right.

winamp player for windows

Furthermore, many of the menus, buttons, and pieces of information can be hidden to create a leaner interface. Explore the Options and View menus for all possibilities. For the ultimate lean an unobtrusive interface, Windows 7 users can hide the Main Window and operate Winamp exclusively via the taskbar. Hover your mouse over the Winamp icon in the taskbar and a thumbnail with player controls should show.

If this works, you can safely right-click into an empty space in Winamp and uncheck the Main Window or click [ALT] + [W]. To bring the Main Window back, right-click the thumbnail, click Winamp and select the respective item.

winamp player for windows

One of Winamp’s key features is ripping CDs or DVDs and encoding files. Insert an optical disc and switch to the respective drive in the Media Library. Winamp will automatically search for artist and album information. When it’s done, click the Rip button and select CD ripping preferences… to choose encoder, ripping speed, output file settings, and playlist creating settings. Available formats are MPEG-4 AAC, FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, SHOUTcast MPEG-2 ADTS-AAC, WAV, and WMA.

winamp media player

Finally, the Winamp media player offers great mobile apps that tie into the desktop application presented here via Devices in the Media Library.

Another aspect I am not covering in this review is that of Winamp’s online services, which essentially are extensions to the media player.


Winamp is a strong audio player with a focus on pulling in album and additional artist information. It works decently as a video player, but lacks advanced features, such as loading subtitles. The various menus are extensive and promise lots of features, unfortunately most are concerned with changing the player’s visual appearance. In its default view Winamp is huge and clunky, but the interface can be stripped down significantly to create a simplistic or highly personalized interface. Winamp is a solid media player and it might be the perfect choice if you need your desktop media player to manage files on your Android devices.

If you like the Winamp media player, but would prefer a lighter version, try Winamp Lite.

Related topics: Media Player, Winamp.

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  1. harley bellwood
    February 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    I use Winamp & Media Monkey. Winamp has lots of plugins and options, but nothing for duplicate files.

  2. Ashok Kumar
    February 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Just started using Pot Player as media player(audio n video). It's working good.

  3. Scott Macmillan
    February 28, 2013 at 9:47 am

    I love Winamp but lately have been turning to VLC more often for my music.Simple and easy.

  4. Alexander Carstensen
    February 28, 2013 at 8:41 am

    I used to use winamp for my music, but after i discovered mediamonkey on this website i have been using that for everything, and i got mediamonkey gold from the rewards system, and that makes the player better :)

    • Tina Sieber
      March 1, 2013 at 10:51 am

      Yeah, there are so many great media players out there, it's hard to choose. Glad you found a favorite!

      Incidentally, we have reviewed MediaMonkey here. And this is the MediaMonkey download link.

      • Alexander Carstensen
        March 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm

        I have already read the review :) It was that review that convinced me to download and try mediamonkey (and later getting a gold code from the rewards system!)

        • Tina Sieber
          March 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm

          Oh, I understood that, Alexander. I was just on a quest adding useful links for anyone else coming across your comment and wondering about MediaMonkey.

        • Alexander Carstensen
          March 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm

          Ahh! Okay :)

  5. Nevzat Akkaya
    February 28, 2013 at 7:05 am

    After I discovered great AIMP, I don't want Winamp anymore :)

  6. Rubis Song
    February 28, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I feel nostalgic! Winamp was one of the very first software I installed on my old old computer. I loved it so much because it was better than the tradional Windows media player found in Windows 2000. And it was also very beautiful. But I can't remember why i've just left it and completely forgoten it. I will try the Winamp lite again and see if it will hook me as it did on the past. Thanks Tina!

  7. Gideon Waxfarb
    February 28, 2013 at 6:25 am

    Those of you who just want the music part without any of the other crap should download the Lite version of Winamp :) it's available on their site.

  8. Tug Ricks
    February 28, 2013 at 5:34 am

    I used to use Winamp, but eventually found MusicBee to be much more intuitive. Just throwing that out there for simple minded folks like myself.

    • Gary Volk
      March 1, 2013 at 12:03 am

      MusicBee looks interesting. Gonna have to try it out. Normally I use MediaMonkey, but the free version is lacking in some features.

      • suneo nobi
        March 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm


    • Tina Sieber
      March 1, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Thanks Tug! Here is a link for anyone else interested: MusicBee, also reviewed by Aaron here.

  9. Gui
    February 28, 2013 at 3:27 am

    I have never stopped using winamp since the golden age! =]

  10. Dr Ramraj
    February 28, 2013 at 3:24 am

    i never has used winamp before . is winamp greater than aimp3 .

    • Tina Sieber
      March 1, 2013 at 10:46 am

      I haven't used aimp3, so I don't know. If you're curious, give it a try - Winamp is free - then let us know! :)

    • Tina Sieber
      March 1, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Oh yeah, we have reviewed AIMP3 here. Joel noted that it looks similar to Winamp, but he wasn't clear how exactly it compares.

  11. Akhil Kumar
    February 28, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Hmm, gonna check this out. I mostly find media players heavy for my netbook, so I use '1 by 1'. I just press Alt+Space, 1, and Space. Simple!

    • Tina Sieber
      March 1, 2013 at 10:44 am

      If you need a light player, try Winamp Lite.

  12. Terafall
    February 28, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Winamp is too complicated and bloated for me

  13. Garris Rago
    February 28, 2013 at 12:36 am

    Tried winamp before, but what I personally find it's interface too complicated for what I want to do (just wanna listen to some music!)

    • Tina Sieber
      March 1, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Totally agree, the interface is way too bloated if you just want to use it as an audio player.

      I know you already have a favorite audio player, but everyone else, have a look at Winamp Lite.