How to Configure Autoplay

AutoPlay is a nifty feature in Windows that automatically scans a device connected to the computer. Based on the computer’s settings, it will either perform a specified action or not do anything at all. To fully understand AutoPlay, we must first understand AutoRun.

AutoRun and AutoPlay are two different things. AutoRun is a feature that comes with Windows 95 computers; it makes installing of apps easier. Windows automatically run a CD that contains an autorun.inf from its root directory, and follow the file’s instruction.

The file is pretty simple and usually points to a file on the disc.

For Windows XP (and earlier OS), files are automatically read and ran by Windows (without any kind of prompt). What ought to be a convenient feature became an annoying and precarious one, as it definitely pose security risks.

To fix this problem, Windows introduced AutoPlay, which works by examining newly connected media device. It determines what type of content are inside the device. It opens a dialog box that allows users to see and choose an application to play, or run, or contents to open.

Depending on the OS, AutoRun and AutoPlay work differently. In all Windows versions earlier than Vista, AutoRun runs before AutoPlay, unless AutoRun is specifically disabled. If enabled, AutoRun will execute and search for AutoRun.inf file.

For computers running on Windows XP, AutoRun can go and bypass AutoPlay altogether, and simply launch the application without asking the user.

For Windows Vista and higher, AutoRun will not skip AutoPlay. If there’s an existing AutoRun.inf file, it will be read, but rather than launching it automatically, a dialog box will pop up and show a list of choices, including autorun.inf file.

The screenshot above shows that the MSI driver CD popped its window because of AutoRun.inf file. This usually happens in Windows XP, 7, and 10.

For the AutoPlay however, you get the following dialog in Windows 7.

The same goes with Windows 10, but this time you get a notification on the bottom right corner of the screen.

Clicking this notification will bring up the AutoPlay dialog, where you can choose the next action.

Disabling AutoPlay in Windows 7 and higher, will not cause an a problem on your computer, as no problem will be launched without your permission. What AutoPlay does is detect these media files and show the options for actions.


How to Configure AutoPlay in Windows 7

In Windows 7 computers, you can change the settings for AutoPlay and make it mimic what it does in Windows XP. This may not be something you would want to do, but it’s an option available for you.

To configure AutoPlay, go to Start and then type in autoplay. Click on the first option at the top.

This will pop a window with a wide list of items that you can configure individually. Fortunately, it has been greatly reduced for Windows 10 (as you can see below). 

Should you want to turn off AutoPlay entirely in Windows 7, simply uncheck the box of Use AutoPlay for all media and devices at the top.

As you can see, the reason why the popup dialog came up when the software CD was inserted is because, Software and games was set to Ask me every time. You can change this Install or run program from your media, Open folder to view files, or Take no action.

Configure AutoPlay in Windows 10

To configure AutoPlay in Windows 10, go the Start and type in AutoPlay Settings in the dialog. Unlike in Windows 7, you will see only two options. If you have connected any external device to your computer, then Removable Drive and Memory Card options will show up. 

Options and the actions you can take are pretty similar. If you connect your mobile phone  and the computer tries to import your media files into OneDrive, then you can switch to turn it off.

Usually, the options for Memory Card popup when you use CD or DVD.

Since most computers come with the latest Windows OS version, you no longer have to worry about AutoPlay. It’s a straightforward process to disable or enable should you wish.

For more tips and tricks in using your Windows computer, check out Dual Monitors Guide.


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