regnyouth archives

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Winamp Tips & Tweaks

A collective posting of tips and tweaks for Winamp. These several worthy tips are well documented in this article and, by following these tips, one may be able to get the maximum use out of the Winamp application.

Make Sure You're Using the Latest Version of Winamp
With every new version release of Winamp, the Nullsoft team not only bundles in new features and functionality, they also make sure to include bug fixes and cleaner code. Many times, simply upgrading your software might be enough to kick whatever issues you may be experiencing. Problems that you might find lurking around Winamp 5.0 may already be long gone in 5.08.

Winamp 2.x users should also note that Winamp 5 is a continuation of version 2's code, unlike Winamp 3, which was rewritten from scratch. Winamp 5 is a direct upgrade from Winamp 2, adding in new fixes, security enhancements, and plug-ins (which can be easily disabled if needed). Consequently, Winamp 2.x users are highly advised to download the latest version of Winamp.

Clean Install Winamp and Check Your Plug-Ins
When installing Winamp, you may want to install into an empty directory (new folder), or uninstall your previous version first. Clean installing helps avoid configuration conflicts that may occur when overwriting existing files. Please consult these procedures when looking to do a full uninstall and/or reinstall.

For an introduction to plug-ins, please refer to Winamp's "What is a Plug-in?"

Many instances of Winamp crashing or slowing down could be attributed to unsupported, third party plug-ins. Problems you are experiencing could be the fault of a plug-in, and not Winamp's. If you have reason to believe that a plug-in is in fact causing conflict with Winamp or any other plug-ins you may have installed, you can do one of the following:

  1. Uninstall the plug-in by first hitting Ctrl - P to go into your Winamp Preferences settings. Under Plug-ins, choose the category of your plug-in. Select the offending plug-in. Click the "Uninstall plug-in" button.
  2. Uninstall the plug-in by locating and deleting the appropriate files in your Winamp Plug-ins folder. (e.g. C:\Program Files\Winamp\Plugins)
  3. Download the latest version of the plug-in, and hope it fixes the issue.
  4. Contact the author about the issue, and hope he/she fixes the problem in their next release.
Install Only What You Need.
If you wish to install Winamp with just "basic functionality", you have the option of downloading a powered-down "Lite" version. Though Winamp Lite is able to play your MP3 files and is compatible with Winamp 2 plug-ins and Classic skins, it lacks the following Winamp 5 features: Modern skin support, video playback, the redesigned Media Library, integrated visualizers, ripping/burning support, and the integrated radio/TV tuner. Winamp's product overview provides some information on the above elements.

If you'd rather not lose out on all of those items, you can download the full version, and uncheck the specific features in the installer that you do not plan to use. For example, you can uncheck "support for cd burning/ripping" if you do not plan on using Winamp for CD burning/ripping, but leave the other options marked to install those. Though Winamp runs fine on most systems with all of the "extras" installed, if you do not plan on using them, Winamp will be wasting it's time (and yours) loading them up.

Use Classic Skins or Keep Your Modern Skins Trim.
For an introduction to skins, please refer to Winamp's "What is a Skin?"

Running Winamp in Classic skin mode drastically decreases the startup time of Winamp, while increasing overall speed. While Modern/Freeform skins typically come equipped with extra functions and are oftentimes more visually impressive, you pay for that all with longer load times and more CPU. Classic skins can usually be differentiated from their Modern counterparts by their rectangular shape. Winamp's default Classic can be selected by going to Options > Skins > Winamp Classic. There is a Classic skin that closely resembles the look of the default Modern skin, for those of you wish to use that instead You can choose not to have support for Modern skins at all by unchecking the feature when installing.

If you decide to use Modern/Freeform skins, there are several tweaks you can apply to your preferences, improving your performance while using these skins. All of these preferences can be quickly accessed by hitting Ctrl - P.

  • Skins > Modern Skins > General tab. On the Timer's Resolution, experiment with what works best for you by moving the slider to the right. The farther right you move the slider, the less CPU this function will use.
  • Skins > Modern Skins > Alpha Blending tab. Uncheck: enable desktop alpha blending (if using Win2k or XP).
  • Skins > Modern Skins > Font Rendering. Checkmark: allow use of bitmap fonts that have not been mapped.
  • Skins > Modern Skins > Current Skin tab. Uncheck: enable beat detection
  • Skins > Modern Skins > Current Skin tab. Checkmark: disable song ticker
Fine Tune Your General Preferences.
Listed below are several options in Winamp's preferences that you can choose to either enable or disable. While each of these options should add some speed to either your load times or general usage, you should make sure that Winamp retains the functionality you need before turning off any features. All of these preferences can be quickly accessed by hitting Ctrl - P.
  • General Preferences. Uncheck: show splash screen.
  • General Preferences. Uncheck: check for new versions at startup
  • General Preferences. Uncheck: allow Winamp to report anonymous usage statistics
  • General Preferences > File Types. Uncheck: restore file associations at start-up (Leave this checkmarked if you find that your other media players are resetting your file associations.)
  • General Preferences > Titles > Metadata Reading section. Select either the 2nd or 3rd options.
  • General Preferences > Global Hotkeys. Uncheck: enabled (Leave this checkmarked if you wish to use Global Hotkeys.)
  • General Preferences > Media Library > Library Options tab. Checkmark: do not load database at startup
  • General Preferences > Media Library > Media Importing tab. Uncheck: rescan folders at startup
  • General Preferences > Media Library > Recent Items tab. Uncheck: track playback count and last playback time of all files (Leave this checkmarked if you wish to use the Recently Played view and keep track of your play counts.)
  • General Preferences > Media Library > Recent Items tab. Uncheck: track playback count and last playback time of streams (Leave this checkmarked if you wish to use the Recent Items view.)
  • General Preferences > CD Ripping > Ripping tab. Uncheck: read audio data from CDs using bundled Sonic extraction engine (Only recommended if you have an ASPI Layer Manager installed.)
Leave Winamp Minimized.
Many users report that Winamp requires less CPU when in it's minimized state. You can usually find the minimize button on the main window's top right corner, third from the right. If you have Global Hotkeys enabled, a keyboard with multimedia buttons, or a plug-in that provides you with alternate playback controls, you should still be able to carry out basic functions with Winamp while the player is minimized.

Consult the Winamp Forums.
If worse comes to worse, and none of the above tips help you, your problems might require a lot more than this guide can help you with. If that's the case, I suggest you either visit #winamptech (, or the Winamp Technical Support section of the Winamp forums. There should be a lot of good folks ready to help you in both of the above spots. Please make sure to run a search on your problem first before posting on the forums. Also, make sure you include your system specifications, along with what 3rd party plug-ins you are using and whether or not you have done a clean install.