WMP tags when burning an audio CD

When I create an audio CD with Windows Media Player, it creates 2 sets of files on the disk – 1 is all 1K shortcuts, and the other set is all the actual MPEG files with all the correct song data (see screenshot). For some reason, the shortcuts do not have any of the song data – only track1, track2 etc… and both Winamp and VLC use this data to display, and so all you see in Winamp or VLC is just track1, track2 etc… What I can’t figure out is where or what tags Windows Media Player is looking at when it writes these shortcuts, so I can use MP3TAG to populate those fields with the song data. I don’t understand why WMP is creating these 2 sets of files to begin with, and why the shortcuts do not provide the song data, but that’s what it does… if you can shed some light on that, that would be helpful. Also, are there any plans for MP3TAG to have a disk burning utility in the future?

AFAIK as long as you burn a native audio CD (and not a data CD with mp3 files on it), you loose all tag data - the file format also changes from mp3 to the audio cd format (PCM , I think).
The only way around this would be to write a CD with CD text ... but I doubt that WMP does this.

It looks like you have "prepared" the files you want to write to your CD/DVD so far. They are "Ready to be written to the Disc" (as you can see on the lower Explorer section) but not yet really burned to the CD.

If you burn an AudioCD and finalize this disc, you don't see any metadata at all, as @ohrenkino explained. If you would eject your actual CD and insert it into your Audio-CD-Hardware-Player, I doubt, that you will see or hear your 51 songs from the list above.

You're probably right, I looked at all the options and did not see one addressing "CD text"... which I assume means all the metadata, right?:

LyricsLover... Yes, that "ready to write" confused me as well, but it did indeed burn the tracks, and it does indeed play on my portable CD player... Is there still a finalize function that would remove that statement, and perhaps remove the shortcuts? WMP just ejects the disk when it is finished burning, suggesting that it is finalized and ready to play - and it will play. Still don't know why have the shortcuts, and why they don't carry the metadata? Using my computer, if I open the disk, and point to one of the shortcuts, it will play the song but shows no song info... if I point to the actual file however, it will also play the song, but also show all the song data, so I don't know why the players (like Winamp or VLC) don't reference the actual file with all the metadata when you insert the disk, and auto-play opens the player to play the whole disk. So getting back to what @ohrenkino said, it IS writing all the tag data to the actual files, just not to the shortcuts... why does this need to be so difficult...?

I am puzzled right now.
Could you please explain what kind of CD you burn?
And where do you point if you

AFAIK the burning process does not copy the files to the list of files that are prepared to be burnt to CD but adds only references (this saves disk space).
A native audio CD does not have any metadata in the files - that is why such databases like freedb were created to fill in the data.
So to me it is not clear:
Do you burn the CD?
Do you play the tracks on the CD?
Which metadata do you see when you open the CD in a player?

Okay, lets clarify everything here.
I am using your run-of-the-mill Sony CD-R disks
I am using WMP 12 to create an “Audio CD” – I have selected to burn an “Audio CD”
I just drag and drop the files I want on the CD into the burn list
I press the “Start Burn” button, and all the songs in the burn list are written to the disk, and the disk is ejected and ready to play.

As you can see from my original screenshot, WMP is writing a shortcut for every track, which are all 1K in size, and all are “CD Audio Track Shortcut” file type. Then it also burns the actual file as an “MPEG Layer 3 Audio File” (which I can only assume is the long name for MP3), so what I mean when I say “Actual file”, I am referring to the MP3 file of the song, and all the song data is present in the MP3 files. Looking closely at the screenshot, you can see all this. And it was mentioned that the format is changed to “the audio cd format (PCM, I think)”, but it appears that the actual songs (NOT the shortcuts) are in the MP3 format.

So no matter what I play this CD with or in, only the shortcut is being referenced for tag data, which is an assumption on my part based on the fact that using either Winamp or VLC player to play the disk, it only shows Track1, Track2, Track3, etc…, and no other tag data. Again, it plays the song no problem. On my boom-box, it only shows the track # in any event, so it makes no difference there, and again, the CD plays just fine. And why it says “Files Ready to Be Written to the Disc (51)” above the MP3 files is a mystery to me, as all the files are already written, which is proven when you look at the CD properties and see how much space is used and left, or just by successfully playing the disk in a portable player.

Also interestingly, when the disk is in the computer and I am browsing the files, I can click on any one shortcut and Winamp (and/or VLC) will play the song, only showing “Track1” for example, and no other data. But when I click on the MP3 file, it will play the song AND show all the tag data.

So to restate my original issue, when allowing the computer to just start playing (Autoplay) an audio disk when it is inserted (or when I right click on the disk, and select “Play with X”) I wanted to know why these players won’t /don’t access the tag data from the MP3 files, and how I might fix that? I know it was said that none of the tag data copies over when burning a native audio CD, but that is only true with the shortcut files – the MP3 files DO have all the tag data intact… so it’s just an issue of the player not looking there for it, right?? It has to access the MP3 file to play the song, so why not read the tag data from there too???

I hope all that makes sense… it’s just another one of those computer/software issues that seems to defy logic – OR is going by some alternate logic that is peculiar to some particular software/hardware… it’s always something!

It takes your MP3-songs and burns an Audio-CD. And an Audio-CD has no tags.

It is not the "actual songs" but the original files.
Your test bed does not prove the point as you still have the reference to the original files.
To see what is on the CD you would have to clear the burn list with all its references to the original files.
Then look at the CD and you will not find any tags any more.
Or, which might be easier if you have another PC at hand with a CD drive: insert the CD there and see if there is any tag data. I bet there won't.
Commercial CDs then often have an identifier which can be used to query a (network) database.
If your CD is something homespun then it probably has no such identifier, so a player cannot find the tag information in a database.
In general, I think that all this has not a lot to do with the program MP3tag but with the CD standard, the that Windows gathers files for CD burning and how Windows shows this selection. It would be kind if you forwarded any further questions to Microsoft or see perhaps Wikipedia on the CD standard:

It is not an identifier that is on the CD. It is an identifier that is build from the TOC (table of contents) of the audio-cd. Because this TOC is nearly unique the query for the the CD in the online-database works.

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No, I think CD-Text is only basic metadata, but I'm not entirely sure. In any case don't count on automatic burning of ALL your metadata to CD-Text, you would definitely have to set it up properly first, if even possible.

You seem to struggle so maybe this will shed some light (much of it has already been said above, albeit in other words):


These CDs can only contain audio in the format of lossless PCM 44.1kHz/16bit. You would preferably burn lossless wav files, and if you want to use mp3's to create a CDDA, they have to be converted, which is sometimes taken care of by the burning program (but keep in mind that you don't get genuine lossless when you convert from lossy to lossless).

Metadata is supported in the format "CD-Text", but this is very rarely found on commercial CDs and not supported by all players. You can also burn CD-Text yourself if the burning software supports it, but not all do. I have no clue if WMP supports it, but I know that Exact Audio Copy (EAC) does. Even if there is CD-Text on the disc, you'll probably only see "Track01" etc in Windows File Explorer (I'm not entirely sure of that though).

No shortcuts whatsoever are written to a CDDA. The reason you only see "shortcuts" in Windows File Explorer is that you can't easily copy the files from a CDDA, and no useful file properties are available on the disc.


This is a data CD with files on it, which could be audio/video/text/exe files or whatever. If the source files you burn to a data CD contain metadata, it will be retained in the target files of course, because the files are burnt to the data CD exactly as they are without any conversion. If your player supports it, it's usually better to burn this kind of data CD since it can hold a lot more (lossy) audio than a CDDA.

WMP is not writing shortcuts or mp3's to a CDDA. The shortcuts are File Explorer's interpretation of the CDDA, and the mp3's must be on a HDD or on a DATA CD.

You need to verify what kind of disc you have burnt. This would probably help you the best:

These shortcuts you see have not really been created by WMP. Actually there are no files on an audio CD, it has its own structure of individual tracks. These shortcuts you see are just the way how Windows presents you the audio CD, allowing to playback the individual tracks directly.

Wow... great help everyone! Let me respond to some of these comments...

Son of a gun, learning something new everyday! Sure enough, in my other laptop, all those MP3 files i thought were burned on the disk, are not there!

With the direction this conversation has gone, I don't disagree... but in my original quest to deal with my "problem", i thought there might have been a way to use Mp3tag to edit in the missing tags onto the shortcut files... which I have now learned are not actually files, but just some other kind of pointer to the location of individual tracks written to the disk as vilsen & PHW explained... what a revelation!

Then there's...

All I can tell you is that I am using WMP, and choosing "Audio CD" under the burn tab. So if you can elaborate further on "what kind of disc" I am burning, I would like to know, yes.

I appreciate all the helpful comments from the Mp3tag community, I believe I understand what's going on now. And special thanks to Florian for writing this great little utility!

And to whatever holiday you may be celebrating this time of year, may it be a good one for you and yours, and may it be COVID-19 free!


Yes, Audio CD means that you transform the MP3 files to the CDA format which has no tags.
If you would not use WMP to assemble a set of audio files but simply added them to the Windows "prepare to burn" folder and then told Windows (not WMP) to burn a data disc then the MP3 files would be transferred to the CD just like text files or pictures - as data.
If the target player could deal with data CDs, it would probably show the tags from the mp3 files.

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Sure... it all makes sense now... just never bothered to think about it before. And I know about making a data disc instead, but I wanted these disc's to be as widely playable as possible - any boombox and any car... And I know that most portable players do not show any tag data anyway, but some do so I thought I would try to find a way to accommodate that, but oh well... on to the next tangent!