Windows XP, unlike earlier versions of Windows, has the built-in ability to write files to CD’s.
What does this mean? If you want to copy some files to a CD, you don’t have to buy a special CD burning program like Nero Burning ROM (the one I use), Roxio’s Easy CD Creator, NTI or others. You can do basic CD writing with Windows XP itself.
Of course, you can’t do the complicated things that the other packages do, but Windows XP’s CD-writing capability means you don’t even have to open those more powerful programs when you want to copy a few files to a CD.
So, how do we do it?
The first step is to open Windows Explorer, the built-in Windows file manager. The easiest way to do this is to right-click on the Start button and pick "Explore."
Then, click on the icons below the File / Edit menu, click on the Folders button (which doesn’t really look like a button). This will give you the much more functional two-pane view in Windows Explorer.
Windows will show all of your drives — floppies, hard drives, CD drives, DVD drives and flash drives (if any). If you have a built-in flash card reader, which will let you read the memory card from your digital camera or PDA, Windows Explorer will also show those “drives” even if you don’t have a memory card plugged in.
Just find the files you want to copy to the CD (if you’re like most people, they’re in "My Documents."
Then, in the right-hand pane of Windows Explorer, select the file(s) you want to copy, right-click on them, and drag them onto the CD-writer in the left-hand pane. In my case, it is labelled "DVD/CD-RW DRive (E:)"
I like to use the right-click-and-drag when I’m copying files. If I use left-click-and-drag, and then fumble the dragging operation, I have to figure out where I accidentally moved (or copied the files).
If I use right-click-and-drag, Windows normally gives me a popup context menu that allows me to choose among Copy, Move, Create Shortcut, and Cancel. This also is helpful because Windows’ default action for a left-click-and-drag differs whether you are dropping within the same drive (it moves) or dropping on a different drive (it copies) — and gives ample opportunity for user errors!
In this case, though, right-click-and-drag and left-click-and-drag do exactly the same thing.
Windows will make a temporary note that these dragged-and-dropped files are to be written to the CD. It will also give you a popup balloon by the Windows Status Bar to tell you that files are waiting to be written to the CD.
When you’ve dragged and dropped all the files you want to write, you can initiate the actual process of writing to the CD.
Put a blank CD into your CD writer. Then, right-click on the CD-writer icon. The popup should look like this: