How to configure AutoPlay in Windows 7 & 10AutoPlay is a feature in Windows that automatically scans a device when it’s connected to your computer and either takes a specific action or does nothing based on your settings. However, to understand AutoPlay you need to understand another very similar feature called AutoRun.

Most people think AutoRun and AutoPlay are just two terms for the same thing, but that’s not correct. AutoRun is a feature that first came out in Windows 95! What was the point exactly? How to make it easier for non-technicians to install apps. If a CD had a file named autorun.inf in the root directory, Windows would automatically detect it and follow the instructions in that file.

This file is usually very simple and basically just points to a file on the disc, usually the setup file or the installation file. Here is an example of one below:

In Windows XP and earlier versions, the file was read and executed automatically without a prompt. If you have ever installed an installation CD / DVD for hardware or a program under Windows XP or earlier, the setup program will start.

This obviously posed serious security risks and Microsoft introduced AutoPlay to fix the problem. The job of AutoPlay is to examine a newly connected media device, determine what type of content it contains, and then display a dialog box that allows the user to launch an application to play, run, or view the content.

AutoRun and AutoPlay work differently depending on which operating system you are currently running. In all versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista, AutoRun will run before Autoplay unless AutoRun is disabled. If it is not disabled AutoRun is executed and after the AutoRun.inf- file searched .

In Windows XP, if the autorun.inf file is found, AutoRun can automatically bypass AutoPlay and start the application without asking the user first.

In Windows Vista and later, AutoRun cannot skip the AutoPlay feature. If there is an AutoRun.inf file it will still be read, but instead of the application starting automatically, a dialog box appears with a list of options, some of which may be from the autorun.inf file.

AutoRun vs. AutoPlay example

To make this more clear, let’s go over an example. I have an MSI driver CD with me that I’ll see in Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 10 to see what happens. The AutoRun.inf file is the simple one shown in the screenshot above.

Windows XP reads the CD, finds an autorun.inf file, and automatically displays the MSI setup program on the screen.

However, when I insert the same CD in Windows 7, I get the following AutoPlay dialog instead:

As you can see it tries to run the DVDsetup.exe file mentioned in the autorun.inf file, but now you are given the option to choose. The same goes for Windows 10. Here you will first receive a notification on your screen.

Clicking it will bring up the AutoPlay dialog box where you can choose what action to take.

Although you can turn off the AutoPlay feature in Windows 7 and higher, it will not harm your computer because no program can run without your permission. All AutoPlay will recognize the media and display the options for you.

If you’re running Windows XP, it might be a good idea to turn off AutoRun because programs on that operating system can still run without user consent.

Configure AutoPlay in Windows 7

Note that in Windows 7, you can change the AutoPlay settings to mimic how Windows XP works. This is probably not something you want to do, but it is an option.

To configure AutoPlay, click Start and type autoplay . Choose the first option above.

This brings up an absolutely huge list of items that you can configure individually. Thankfully, this list has been greatly reduced in Windows 10, as you’ll see below. If you’d like to completely disable AutoPlay in Windows 7, just uncheck the Use AutoPlay for all media and devices check box at the very top.

The reason I got the popup dialog when I inserted my software CD was because Software and Games were set to Always Ask . You can change this by installing or run programs from your media , Open folder to view files , or No Action Run .

The list of options available depends on the type of media connected. For example, an audio CD or a DVD movie can be played using Windows Media Player. When you connect a device with pictures or videos, you have the option to automatically import the items. If you’ve ever connected other devices like smartphones or tablets to your computer, they’ll be shown at the very bottom.

Configure AutoPlay in Windows 10

In Windows 10, click Start and type AutoPlay to open the AutoPlay Settings dialog box . As you can see, there are only two options instead of the numerous in Windows 7. If you connect another external device like in Windows 7, they will show up after the removable media and memory card .

The options are pretty much the same in terms of the actions you can take. For me, every time I plugged in my iPhone they tried to import them into OneDrive, which I didn’t want. This is where you can turn that off.

From my testing, it appears that the memory card options are used when you insert a DVD or CD.

Since most of the users are running the latest versions of Windows, there really isn’t anything else that you need to worry about other than AutoPlay. It’s also a straightforward process to turn AutoPlay off or on in Windows if you want. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment. Enjoy!



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