In an earlier tutorial, we showed you just how easy it is to extend the functionality of Windows Media Player 12 by installing plug-ins. As a supplement to that guide, we figured we'd rundown the coolest Windows Media Player 12 plug-ins available for download. You can find some of these at the Microsoft page that superseded WMPlugins.com, but the pickings there are conspicuously slim. So, we tested and reviewed a couple top Windows Media Player 12 plug-ins and rounded them up here, for you to check 'em out.
1. Now Playing Plug-in
License: Shareware - $15 for registered version
The Now Playing Plug-in by Brandon Fuller is a versatile plug-in with big potential, but it's accessible and easy-to-use for basic purposes as well.
The feature we like the most is the ability to automatically update your Twitter or Facebook status with the song that's playing. You can choose from various elements to pull from Windows Media Player 12, from the obvious song title and artist to the less immediately useful bitrate and filename (maybe if you want to prove that you're a lossless purist).
For more advanced users, you can output your now playing info to an XML file and have it automatically upload to your website. For example, you could use it in a WordPress widget to show visitors to your blog what song you were listening to in real time. That is, if that's information you're interested in sharing (I disable this plug-in whenever I listen to Lady Gaga so as not to lose any cred with my hipster friends).
Now Playing is pretty awesome, too, because it can pull additional album info from Amazon or iTunes. There's more potential built-in to this plug-in, but we've yet to tap it and frankly, we'd like to leave some more space here for the other plug-ins. But definitely check this one out.
2. Lyrics Plugin
The Lyrics Plugin originally gained popularity with Winamp, but it works with Windows Media Player 12. With elegant simplicity, the Lyrics Plugin displays the lyrics for the song in the Now Playing window. Of course, Windows Media Player 12 can do this on it's own, but the Lyrics Plugin goes one step further by allowing you to search for lyrics and add them yourself if they aren't immediately found. Pretty handy.
3. MGTEK dopisp
License: Commercial, $19.95. 30-day Free Trial
Even if you're a die-hard Microsoft fanboy, you may have succumbed to the siren call of the sleek and sexy iPod or iPhone from Apple. As collateral damage from the blood feud between Mac and PC, iPods and iPhones don't sync with Windows Media Player 12 out of the box. However, with the MGTEK dopisp plug-in, you can sync music, video and pictures between Microsoft Windows Media Player 12 and your Apple device just like it were a Zune.
Proof? Here's a picture of me with my iPhone 3GS synced with Windows Media Player 12.
You can see my device show up on the left (I named it "Phoney Baloney," which, I think, would be a great name for vegan bologna) as well as in the Sync list. Plus, you can see the contents in the Player Library.
To get the plug-in to work, you do have to have iTunes installed on your machine and your iPod or iPhone in disk mode.
Note that, as of the publishing of this tutorial, the plug-in isn't compatible with the latest version of iTunes. To get it up and running, either don't upgrade to the latest version of iTunes or use the beta version of the MGTEK dopisp plug-in. Another important note is the fact that this is a commercial plug-in, as is the beta version. You can use it for free for 30-days and then you need to pay $19.95 to continue using it.
4. Last.fm Scrobbler
Last.fm users can chronicle their listening habits from Windows Media Player 12 directly into their account using the Last.fm Scrobbler. The standard Windows download comes bundled with the Last.fm plug-in, which automatically pulls up album and artist info for the song that's currently playing and gives you a chance to add it to a playlist, share it, love it or tag it.
5. WMPKeys Plug-in
Windows Media Player 12, along with everything else in Windows 7, comes with a pretty nice set of hotkeys. But if you want to tweak or edit your Windows Media Player 12 hotkeys, the WMPKeys Plug-in is the quickest and easiest way to do so. You can change the hotkey for playback, volume and even rating.
6. DFX Audio Enhancer
License: Free. Additional features available with DFX Plus for $19.95
I wasn't sure if the DFX Audio Enhancer plug-in was doing anything, but then I turned it off and it was like someone threw a blanket over my speakers. This advanced audio DSP effects plug-in lets you tweak a number of factors as well as optimize playback for headphones or speakers. The graphical interface looks high tech and fancy as well. Having this plug-in kind of makes me want to go back and listen to my entire library to hear the nuances and crispness that I've been missing for all these years.
7. Google Talk Plug-in
Another "hey, look what I'm listening to" plug-in, the Google Talk comes with built-in support for displaying what's playing in your Windows Media Player 12. However, this functionality is a bit elusive and enabling it is kind of a roundabout affair.
To get the Google Talk now playing plug-in working, you have to uninstall your current Google Talk client (unless you're starting from scratch) and close Windows Media Player 12. Next, download the Google Talk installer, right-click it in Windows Explorer and choose 'Run as Administrator'. If you don't do this, the Google Talk setup won't install the functionality required by this plug-in. Don't really know why the Google Talk setup doesn't show an UAC prompt in the first place and it doesn't install the plug-in properly.
After installation, you should see the plug-in under the background category in your Windows Media Player 12 plug-ins options window. It'll be enabled by default. Once it is, you can choose 'Show current music track' as your status message and everyone will know what you're jammin' to.
These are the top 7 Windows Media Player 12 plug-ins that made our list. We were surprised and a bit disappointed at how hard it was to find these, however. As mentioned above, WMPlugins.com is less than helpful as a central repository for noteworthy Windows Media Player 12 plug-ins. So, it's up to all you 7tutorials.com readers to pitch in and let us know what your favorite Windows Media Player 12 plug-in is! Give us a link and tell us why it's your favorite in the comments section below.