FAQ (WMP Tag Plus)

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Revision as of 23:20, 18 July 2016 by Tdebaets (talk | contribs) (What's the meaning of the setting “Prevent Windows Media Player from leaking memory while it reads album art from music files”?)

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Is WMP Tag Plus compatible with my system?

WMP Tag Plus supports Windows Media Player 12 on Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, and Windows 10.

The plug-in should also still work fine with Windows Media Player 11 on Windows Vista, but that combination isn't officially supported anymore.

Why am I experiencing issues with FLAC tags on Windows 10?

Microsoft has added native FLAC support in Windows 10. This means that, in a default Windows 10 installation, WMP Tag Plus isn't used anymore by Windows Media Player for FLAC tags.

Unfortunately, Microsoft's native FLAC support has been proven to still contain some issues. For example, it doesn't recognize certain tags that are recognized by WMP Tag Plus and most other FLAC implementations. The first thing you should do when you come across such an issue, is report it via the Windows 10 feedback tool. That's the best way to urge Microsoft to fix their FLAC support.

Because of the issues with the native FLAC support, you can optionally force the use of WMP Tag Plus for FLAC on Windows 10, thereby giving you the same FLAC support as in earlier Windows versions. For this, you will need to disable the native FLAC support. See the next question for instructions on how to do this.

How do I disable Microsoft's native FLAC tag support in Windows 10?

First of all, make sure that you have the latest available version of WMP Tag Plus. Only versions 2.6 and newer support Windows 10.

Removing existing FLAC songs from the library

Warning: if you skip this step, there's a high risk that you will lose some of the tags in your FLAC files!

  1. In Windows Media Player's library, select Music on the left, and type type:flac in the Search field.
  2. Select a single song, then press Ctrl+A to select all songs.
  3. Right-click the selection and select Delete. Choose Delete from library only, then click OK.
  4. Close Windows Media Player.

Disabling the native FLAC tag support

This will not only disable the native FLAC tag support in Windows Media Player, but also in Windows Explorer. It's not possible to disable the support for Windows Media Player and leave it enabled for Explorer at the same time. However, if you're experiencing issues with FLAC tags in Windows Media Player, then you will very likely see the same issues in Explorer, so there's not much point in leaving it enabled in the latter anyway.

  1. Create a system restore point, just in case things get messed up.
  2. Launch the Registry Editor: press Win+R, type regedit, and press Enter.
  3. Navigate to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\PropertySystem\PropertyHandlers\.flac.
  4. Select the (Default) value, press Del, and click Yes to confirm.
  5. 64-bit Windows only: repeat the previous step for the registry key KEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\PropertySystem\PropertyHandlers\.flac (note the Wow6432Node component).
  6. Navigate to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\PropertySystem\SystemPropertyHandlers.
  7. Right-click the SystemPropertyHandlers key in the tree, select Permissions, and click Advanced.
  8. Click the Change link next to Owner, type Administrators as the object name, and click OK.
  9. In the existing Permission entries, select the Allow entry for Administrators and click Edit.
  10. Tick the Full Control box, then click OK three times so that you're back in the main Registry Editor window.
  11. Select the .flac value, press Del, and click Yes to confirm.
  12. 64-bit Windows only: repeat steps 7-11 for the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\PropertySystem\SystemPropertyHandlers (note the Wow6432Node component).
  13. Close the Registry Editor, and restart Windows for the changes to take effect.

Adding FLAC songs back to the library

  1. Launch Windows Media Player and make sure that WMP Tag Plus is ticked in the ToolsPlug-ins menu, meaning that the plug-in is active (press Ctrl+M if you don't see the Tools menu).
  2. Make sure that the native FLAC tag support was successfully disabled. To do this, go to WMP Tag Plus settings (ToolsOptionsPlug-ins – select Background – select WMP Tag PlusProperties). In the list of supported file extensions, the Native support column should show No for FLAC. Finally, close the WMP Tag Plus settings dialog again.
  3. To re-add the FLAC songs that were previously removed, go to ToolsAdvanced, select Restore deleted library items, and click Yes.

Undoing your changes

If you want to enable the native FLAC tag support again, you can undo these changes by downloading and opening one of the following .zip files. Then unzip and open the included .reg file to import it into the registry:

After the .reg file has been successfully imported, remember to restart Windows for the changes to take effect.

What's the meaning of the setting “Prevent Windows Media Player from leaking memory while it reads album art from music files”?

In WMP Tag Plus version 2.7 and newer, if you go to the Advanced tab of the plug-in's settings, there's a check box called Prevent Windows Media Player from leaking memory while it reads album art from music files. This setting is there to control a fix in WMP Tag Plus for a bug in Windows Media Player 12.

A while back, the author of WMP Tag Plus discovered a rather serious issue in Windows Media Player 12. Whenever a music file containing album art is added to the library, Windows Media Player allocates a block of memory to read the album art into. That wouldn't be an issue if Windows Media Player would eventually free this memory block again, but it seems that this never happens. The result is a memory leak: a memory block that is wasted and not available for anything useful until Windows Media Player is closed again.

This issue can be reproduced pretty easily by embedding a large JPEG image as album art into an MP3 file (using for example Mp3tag), and repeatedly adding this same MP3 file to the media library and removing it again. You should see wmplayer.exe's memory usage increase each time the file is added, without seeing the usage ever decrease again later. This can eventually lead to Windows Media Player exhausting all of its available memory space, especially when an empty library is initially filled with music files and many of the files have large album art embedded. When this exhaustion has occurred and Windows Media Player still tries to allocate some more memory, the program crashes with the dreaded Windows Media Player has stopped working message.

Microsoft has already been notified of this bug a few years ago, but up until now, hasn't released any patch that fixes it. Even more striking, the same bug is still present in Windows Media Player 12 on Windows 10. Because of this, the author of WMP Tag Plus decided to take matters into his own hands and added some code to the plug-in that forces Windows Media Player to free the leaked memory block again after it has read album art.

The check box on the Advanced tab can be used to enable or disable that piece of code in WMP Tag Plus. Usually you should leave it enabled, but a way to disable it was still provided just in case it causes any unforeseen issues (even though the fix has already been tested extensively). It's not necessary to disable the setting once Microsoft has fixed the bug in Windows Media Player. In that case the aforementioned piece of code in WMP Tag Plus just won't run and the setting won't have anymore effect.

There's no particular file type that's affected by this bug: all file types that Windows Media Player adds to its library and for which it reads album art are affected. The fix in WMP Tag Plus is independent of the file type as well. So the bug and its fix apply to file types natively supported by Windows Media Player (such as .mp3 and .wma), as well as file types for which support is added by WMP Tag Plus (such as .ogg and .wv).