With so many applications available on the market for burning CDs or DVDs, Windows 7 users tend to forget the simplest and cheapest of them all: Windows Explorer itself. This article will show how easy it is to burn files to a CD or DVD with Windows Explorer.
NOTE: Even though Windows 7 does not offer support for playing Blu-Ray media content, it does offer support for burning Blu-Ray discs, if you have a Blu-Ray writer.
Adding Files and Folders for Burning
The first step of burning files is inserting a writable disk into your computer’s CD, DVD or Blu-Ray disk burner.
From the Auto Play window that appears, choose "Burn files to disk using Windows Explorer".
If the Auto Play window hasn’t appeared, simply open Windows Explorer. Then double click the disk burner drive.
In the "Burn a Disc" wizard, you are first required to write the title of the disk. By default, the title is today’s date.
Then, Windows offers two types of burning: "Like a USB Flash Drive (Live File System)" and "With a CD/DVD player (Mastered)". Microsoft provides a table where you can find out more on which disk format to choose, depending on what you want to write: Pick the appropriate disc and format for your needs.
To save you the reading, we recommend using the second option ("With a CD/DVD player (Mastered)") for most scenarios. Disks burned this way will be compatible with any computer and devices like CD and DVD players. Moreover, if you haven’t filled the disk in a first burning and you still have free space left on it, you can later burn new files to the same disk until you fill it up.
Press Next after you have made your choice.
Now, you will see your CD/DVD drive like any other folder on your computer. To select the files or folders to burn, just drag and drop them on the CD/DVD Drive or use Copy and Paste, just like you usually do when you want to copy files on your computer.
When you begin copying files for burning, Windows 7 displays a notification in the right hand side of the screen, saying that "You have files waiting to be burned on disk".
Simply don’t worry about it and continue adding files until you hit the space limit of the disc you are about to burn.
Erasing Temporary Files Copied to Your Disc for Burning
If you have changed your mind about burning the files you just copied to your CD/DVD, open the disc in Windows Explorer and press "Delete temporary files".
A confirmation dialog for deletion shows up. Click Yes to confirm you no longer want to burn those files.
NOTE: Even if you remove the CD/DVD from the drive, the temporary files will be kept and can be burned on the next writable CD/DVD you insert. If you want the files not to be kept for burning later on, you need to follow the procedure we just shared.
NOTE: If you want to delete only a few files or folders from those you copied for burning, simply browse your disc and delete them from there. The other files and folders will remain copied for burning.
Burning the Disc (CD, DVD or Blu-Ray)
When you are ready to burn the disk, press the Burn to disk button from the top side of Windows Explorer.
The "Burn a Disc" wizard shows up again, asking for preparation details. This is your last chance to change the title of the disc you are about to burn.
Click on the Speed drop down box to choose the speed at which the disk will be written.
Press Next to burn the selected files to disk. While burning, you will see a progress dialog like the one below. The duration of the burning process will vary depending on the amount of data being written and the writing speed you selected.
NOTE: If you have any space left on the disk at the end of the burning process, you will be able to burn files on it again. In Windows Explorer you will see both files currently on disk and files which you copied later on and are ready to be written to disk.
How to Erase Re-Writable CDs/DVDs
If you are using a rewritable disk (CD-RW, DVD-RW or DVD+RW) and you already have something written on it, Windows Explorer also gives you the means to erase the disk.
Insert the rewritable disk, open Windows Explorer and click on your disk burner drive. You can see the Erase this disk button on the top side of Windows Explorer. Click on it.
A confirmation dialog like the one below appears, informing you that you can reuse the disk after deletion. If you don’t want to be notified when the disk is erased, check the box saying "Close this wizard after the disk is erased".
A progress dialog will be displayed. The time to delete varies based on the amount of data written on your disc and the erase speeds supported by the disc and the CD/DVD burner.
If you haven’t checked "Close this wizard after the disk is erased" you will see a notification dialog if the the disk erased successfully. Press Finish.
If you have checked this option, the wizard will close automatically, without further announcement.
As you can see from this tutorial, burning discs with Windows Explorer is both free and easy. There’s no need to purchase third party applications, unless you have more specialized burning needs. For more tutorials about burning different types of discs in Windows 7, check out the articles recommended below.