Zune Tips

Here is a compilation of various tips I’ve discovered while visiting different forums and blogs.

The Lock Button

I’ve fallen into this trap, so I thought I’d mention it to everyone. On the top of the Zune is a small switch known as the lock button, which is used to deactivate the buttons and front touchpad. It’s often used when you’re listen to music and you want to put your Zune in it’s case or in your bag and you don’t want to accidentally press one of it’s buttons. I had activated the lock button when I slid my Zune in it’s slip cover case, and forgot that it was locked. The next day I plugged my Zune into the charging sync cable and the screen lit up but none of the buttons appeared to work. Since my Zune is brand new, I immediately thought it was defective and needed to be returned. After I realized that the lock button was on, I was at ease when the buttons began to work again. So note, if your device appears to be locked up, check the lock button!

Avoiding “Transcoding” When Syncing Video Files

If you notice that your video files are taking a long time to sync (like several hours), then they are probably being converted (or “Transcoded”) by the Zune Software. Why is that? Because they are formatted within the parameters specified for the Zune devices. Zune.net‘s support page explains the proper parameters for video files, and not all 3rd-party video converter programs will adhere to them. Check out my “Video Conversion” page for more information on how I convert my video files which avoid the transcoding process.

Changing the Background Image on your Zune

Very simple procedure. Either download or create a 240 x 320 pixel image to be used as your new background and sync it with your Zune device. Now, on your Zune go to “Pictures” and display that background picture. With the picture displayed, click the center pad button and select “Apply as Background” from the menu. Now when you go back to the main display, you’ll see your new background!

Registering your Zune With Microsoft

Don’t forget to register your Zune with Microsoft (for Warranty claims). To do so, go to service.zune.net and enter your information (Note: your Serial Number is on the back of the Zune device at the bottom. It’s in really, really tiny print!). After you register, you’ll see the warranty expiration date for your Zune.

Important Button Combinations

The small quick-start guide that came with my Zune 80 explained that holding down the “Play” button will turn my Zune off. Well, that’s not entirely true. Holding the play button down will merely put your Zune in “sleep” mode, where you can wake it up by pressing any button (so long as the lock button isn’t activated). So, power is still being used to keep your Zune snoozing until you wake it up. What if you want to save your battery power (say, on a long flight)? Is there a way to really turn it off?

Why, yes there is a way by using a combination of buttons on your Zune. If you hold down the Back Button and Down button simultaneously, the Zune will really turn off. If you then hold down the Play button, the Zune will turn back on (note, it will take about 20 seconds for the Zune to completely power up). Below are a few useful combination buttons you can use:

  • Back Button + Down Button = Turn Off
  • Back Button + Up Button = Reset (or Reboot)

So if your device locks up for some reason, you can always try the reboot button sequence. Now, you need to be careful as the following button combinations can be a bit dangerous:

  • Back Button + Center Button + Right Button = Delete all Content
  • Back Button + Center Button + Left Button = Delete all Content and Delete Firmware

So, you really don’t want to accidentally hit those last two button combinations when you’re out of town and away from your Desktop PC!

Zune Warranty

Your Zune should have a 1-year warranty (from the date of purchase). You should register your Zune at service.zune.net soon after you buy it so you don’t have any issues in the future if you need to send it in for repair. If you are having problems with your Zune, you can call the service number at 877-GET-ZUNE for support. If they deem that your problem is hardware related, they will initiate a repair order that entails Microsoft sending you a FedEx box for your Zune to be shipped to their repair facility in Texas. Note, that if your Zune show any kind of damage (e.g., scratches on the screen or a broken screen, dents, etc.) the Zune repair facility will send it back to you unrepaired.


57 thoughts on “Zune Tips

  1. duke says:

    thanx for the great info.

  2. Rob says:

    good stuff, didn’t know that it only went for a sleep rather than turning itself off.

    good tip

  3. zunetips says:

    Rob: Neither did I. But it’s good to know how to really turn off your Zune to save battery power.

  4. estsban says:

    thanx a lot… i thought i ve lost it…
    your a zune savior

  5. zunetips says:

    estsban – You’re welcome. I’m glad you found the information useful.

  6. Mike says:

    I was wondering if you can help me. My return button on my 4gb zune dosen’t work. Do you know why?

  7. zunetips says:

    Mike – When you say “return button” I’m assuming you mean the back button (left most button on the front of the Zune). I’m not sure why yours is not working. I would guess it’s a hardware issue. If your Zune is still under warranty, I suggest you send it into the Microsoft Repair Center to get it fixed. If it is out-of-warranty, I might try opening up the Zune and see if I can fix it myself (you need to be some what handy with electronics and fearless). http://www.rapidrepair.com has instructions on how to open up a Zune and they also provide tools if needed (in fact, you could see if rapidrepair.com would fix it). Otherwise, you might search the forum postings on http://www.zunescene.com to see if someone else had the same issue and see if they were able to resolve it.

  8. Lori says:

    I have a 30gb zune, it has worked great for a year now until last week. I was watchting a movie and when it was finished the battery was low so instead of plugging it into the computer like I usually do I used the AC adapter (which I had never done before since I have owned it). came back after about 5 minutes and the battery icon wasn’t moving, when I unplugged it, it said “low battery”. It was time to close so I put it in the case, put it in my purse and went home. When I got there I turned it on and it said the same thing “low battery”. I plugged it into my computer and usually when I do this the zune program automatically will boot up. Nothing happened. I tried all the reset ricks like pushing the back and up buttons and emptying the hard drive, still nothing. I left it there overnight and the next morning it still said “low battery”. When I got home that night I tried to plug it into the AC adapter again but I couldn’t even get the screen to come on. I have left it plugged into my computer for several days now and still nothing. I have ordered a new battery but Im not sure if this will fix the problem. Does anybody know, if this means Im going to have to replace the hard drive and motherboard also? I love this zune because they just don’t make the screens this big anymore. Please feel free to email me with any sudgestions. I have also looked online for a program that will scan the zune and tell me what is wrong but I haven’t had any success with that either my email is happy_2_be_here@hotmail.com Thanks

  9. zunetips says:

    Lori – It’s hard for me to say whether it’s a battery issue or not (probably 50-50 chance). What I would do, is order the $20 battery from http://www.rapidrepair.com and try to install it myself, then see if charging the device works. If not, then it must be the motherboard. I believe you can get the motherboard from rapidrepair.com, but at that point you’ll need to way the option of repair vs buying a new unit. Good luck, and please let us know if the battery replacement fixes the problem!

  10. mike says:

    I tried to delete albums from my Zune 4GB. I was logged on to the Microsoft Zune site, and I had the Zune connected to my laptop via the USB port.
    The albums deleted from my Zune site but not from the Zune itself. I thought I was synched OK to do this. Now, the albums are not on the Zune site but they are still on my Zune. How do I delete the albums/songs from the Zune itself now??


  11. zunetips says:

    In the Zune Software on your Desktop PC, connect your Zune and then click “Device” on the top line then “Videos” or “Music” to see those items on your Zune device. You can then right-click on the individual items and delete them from your Zune if you wish.

  12. Mike says:

    I have 8 albums loaded in the Zune program but I cannot drag them or individual songs to my Zune. As info, these were all loaded in my Zune but my wife accidently deleted them by pushing the forward and backwards buttons at the same time. Actually, the entire Zune emptied, but I was able to reload about 2/3 of the music, but it won’t let me drag and drop about 8 albums. Any ideas? Thanks,

  13. zunetips says:

    Mike: Do you have enough room for those 8 albums? Also, where did you get them? Are they DRM protected?

  14. Will says:

    I have a very very very small chip in the corner of my zune. do you think that they will repair it????

  15. zunetips says:

    What model Zune do you have? I don’t think the Microsoft Repair Center will fix it (under warranty or not), but you might have http://www.rapidrepair.com fix it (or buy the case from them and repair it yourself).

  16. Will says:

    No i am sorry you misunderstood my question. My Zune wont turn on and i have tried a lot of stuff but it won’t work so i am sending it in to zune support to fix. will they fix it eventhough there is a small chip in the corner

  17. zunetips says:

    Will: I’m not sure. It will depend on whether they think you damaged your Zune by dropping it and that was the cause of the problem. If it’s still under warranty I would send it in an see what happens…

  18. Mike B says:

    I have a Zune 4 Gig. I click on an album to play, and then I click “play all”. Then I click back and choose another album, and click “add to now playing”. Here is where my problem starts. The 1st song on the 1st album starts playing, once that 1st song is over, the 1st song on the album I added starts to play. In other words, I don’t hear any songs on the 1st album except for the very first one and then the Zune starts playing the 2nd album I added to now playing. What do I do to get all of the songs on the 1st album to play before the “add to now playing ” album kicks in??

  19. tyler says:

    i have a 4gb zune and my scroll pad wont work and nothing happens when you push the center button but my play and back buttons both work how do i fix this?

  20. zunetips says:

    tyler: All I can recommend is that you do a “soft-reset” to see if that helps, and if not try a “hard-reset” (see the “Zune Tips” page for details). If that doesn’t work, then the problem is most like hardware-related and you’ll need to send in your Zune for repair or decide on getting a new one.

  21. pretoria says:

    i have a 4GB Zune that won’t turn on or respond to the computer when i plug it in, and the computer doesn’t recongnize that its plugged in either. i tried the delete all content and firmware option and my computer actually showed signs of knowing that it was plugged in by saying USB device not recognized. but it didn’t do anything else after that. but another problem i’m facing is the fact that my warranty is expired and i bought my Zune at circuit city so they closed down and plus i don’t have enough money to get it fixed because my mom won’t let me. i need something that i can do to fix it myself or by the computer. i am really out of luck and desperately need help since my Zune has been this way for almost six months and i can’t live without music.

  22. zunetips says:

    pretoria: You need to rule out if the problem is with your Zune or with the computer you are trying to connect to. I suggest you install the Zune Software on a different computer, and see if you can make a connection with your Zune. If you can, then that tells me the problem might be a fried USB port on your original computer.

    Also, I suggest you make sure your sync cable is working properly. Can you borrow a sync cable from a friend and see if that works?

  23. pretoria says:

    i guess so, but the problem is that i only have 1 computer in my house that has a usb port.

  24. zunetips says:

    pretoria: If you only have one computer available, then you won’t be able to rule out if the problem is with your Zune or with the computer. Sorry.

    My wife recently was having some problems with her Zune 120, where the up and down buttons didn’t work (they just didn’t do anything). Because the up button didn’t work, I could do the back button+up button to do a reset. So, I told her to let the Zune 120 drain of power completely by playing a video over and over. She did so until all the power was gone from the Zune. I then had her charge it up again, and it self-reset and worked fine. You might try that, since it’s something easy to test out.

  25. pretoria says:

    thnaks for the advice. i got a friend’s usb cable and i’m guna try that solution. hopefully it’ll work.

  26. pretoria says:

    but i also think it isn’t a fried usb port because my sister has an iPod and it connects to the computer judt fine…..so i’m guessing it’s a fried sync cable instead.

  27. Nicole says:

    I just brought a Zune HD as a present for my boyfriend. I got it yesterday and now today the back button doesn’t work. When I called the number on Zune’s website the guy on the phone told me there was no back button and hung up on me.

    Any ideas on what I could do, to fix this issue?

  28. zunetips says:

    Nicole: The rude Zune support guy was right– there is no back button. To move back to the previous page, you tap near the top of the screen. This area is called a “bread crumb”, and tapping it will move back one screen.

    Note, that the user-interface for the Zune HD is definitely different than the original Zunes. It took me a little while to figure out and get use to it. But after owning it for a while it is all habit now.

  29. dAtR says:

    I have a Zune 80gb.. I had to replace the battery myself when it died as I had no warranty but now the unit is stuck on Hold – I’ve got the back off and I’ve tried moving the Hold switch back and forth but this doesn’t do anything.
    After being Zuneless for about 4 months while I decided whether or not to risk taking the unit apart and getting the soldering iron out to sort the battery problem, I’m so close to having a functioning Zune again, if only I could press any of the buttons!!

    Any advice any one has would be greatly appreciated

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  30. kelly says:

    i have a Zune hd and cant figure out how to down load games. i also want a calendar but cant figure out how to at all!

  31. zunetips says:

    If you use the Zune software on your PC you can click “Marketplace” on the top line and then “Apps” on the second line to see all available apps and games that you can download for your Zune HD.

  32. pretoria says:

    Instead of using my friend’s sync cable, my dad bought me a new one along with a wall charger. I plugged it up to the wall charger all night and the screen still stayed blank, the Zune only got warm, as if the battery were full. I don’t understand why it’s doing this, could it be because I didn’t use the CD that the Zune came with and downloaded the software on the computer instead, because the same thing happened to all of my sisters’ MP3 players because they downloaded it from the computer instead of the CD, and theirs don’y work either. But mine is more serouis because mine won’t even turn on. One of my sisters has a Samsung P2 and it turns on, but the screen reads RTC ERROR and our new computer won’t even recognize it. My other sister has a Sansa Sandisk and it just stays on the logo screen after it turns on.
    Oh! And the reason why we downloaded it from the computer was because our CD slot broke so we couldn’t download the CD. We also got a new computer, so I took all of your advice, got a new computer, new sync cable and it still won’t even turn on! I have an iPod and all, but this 4 gig Zune is the best music technologyIi have! I have ancient iPods. I’m glad you replied all of my other posts, and it’s been hard for me to find this page since we got a new computer but I appreciate your help!

  33. zunetips says:

    It sounds like your big problem is your Zune 4GB won’t turn on. So, when you try to turn it or when you charge it via a USB Cable connected to your PC you don’t see anything on the screen? I had a similar problem with my Zune where it didn’t seem to turn on, but after closer inspection I was able to see a vary faint image on the screen. It seemed that the backlight for the screen was not working and I sent the Zune into the Microsoft repair center to get it fixed (it was still under warranty).

    So, I’m not sure what to suggest to you at this point. It seems that you have a good power source (wall charger and new cable) so your Zune most likely is being charged sufficiently, but the screen just won’t turn on. One thing I would try is to do a hard-reset (see my Zune Tips page) and see if that corrects the problem. If not, the only recourse I see is either have it repaired or considered it broken and get a new Zune.

  34. pretoria says:

    So is Back Button + Up Button = Reset (or Reboot) the hard reset?

  35. pretoria says:

    and what about my Zune not being setected by the computer?

  36. pretoria says:

    i used the “hard reset” and now my computer detecs it, but not the Zune software, instead, the computer keeps on flashing USB Device not recognized. i keep on reseting it with the “hard reset” but it keeps on flashing the same thing what should i do? (please disregard all the other little unnecesarry comments i put before)

  37. pretoria says:

    oh! and i checked all of my updates for my computer and my Zune and there aren’t any, by the way i have Windows XP.

  38. Ryan says:

    Help! My zune only works when its plugged in now and when its not it shuts off and dies and trying to turn it on without plug shows Battery Low. If I then plug it in, it starts up and battery symbol is full so I guess maybe they just don’t have any other symbols to show me! xD

    Any tips to get it working again?

    Oh and its a zune30.

  39. zunetips says:

    Are you using a wall charger to charge it, or a USB port? It might be that the USB port you are using isn’t putting out enough amps to charge the battery on your Zune 30. You might try using a different USB port or a wall charger to see if that works better. If not, then I would guess your battery is bad and you’ll need to replace it.

  40. renee says:

    My Zune 80 is new and under warranty . My lock switch fell off somewhere and I can’t find it. Will my warranty cover it? If not where can I find a replacement button?

  41. zunetips says:

    If I were you, I would certainly contact Microsoft Services to see if it is covered under warranty. Otherwise, you might try visiting http://www.rapidrepair.com to see if that have that part for sale.

  42. Johana says:


    So My 4GB zune has been working fine. Just lately it was running out of battery so i decided to plug it in to my outlet instead of the computer. I usually use my camera charger to charge my zune because it has a usb adapter which i can just use the zune usb cord. So i left it to charge and then i realized that my screen went blank, but it didnt go black it had the light on but just blank. So i left it charging for a whole day and still no success. I finally got it to turn on completely and it charged (it showed a green battery) but once i unplugged it, it turns off and it doesnt turn on. So the general idea is that my zune only turns on when its plugged. I plugged it to my computer and it detects it and it works fine. So i dont know what the problem is.

    Any ideas?

    Thank You! 🙂

  43. zunetips says:

    It sounds like either your battery is shot and you need a replacement, or the power source you are using to charge your Zune isn’t pushing enough amps to charge your battery. Since you tried charging with a wall charger, I think your Zune is getting enough juice. I suggest you try using a different sync cable for charging just to make sure that isn’t the problem. After you tried all those things, I can only guess its the battery that is the problem. If you go to http://www.rapidrepair.com you’ll see that they have batteries for $30 US which you can install yourself. They have guides describing how take apart your Zune which you can download.

  44. Jacky says:

    I have a 4 GB zune, not under warranty any more. Recently, after updating to version 3.1, its back button has stopped responding. All the other buttons work, the lock is not on, and I have tried several hard resets. I can still press the button, just nothing happens. What should I do? Should I try the back-center-left combo to see what’ll happen? I’m a bit skeptical about using RapidRepair, but I’m starting to think about it.

    Also, when I press and hold the play/pause button (to make it go to sleep), the screen goes black but then it turns back on without me pressing any buttons.

    I have never dropped my Zune, never manipulated it, always used the cord Microsoft sent with my Zune to charge it (plugged into my computer), never downloaded anything I shouldn’t, and there is no damage to it that I can see.

  45. Jacky says:

    Oh yeah, I’ve also updated to version 3.3 now, on request of another site, and nothing has happened. Please help me!

  46. zunetips says:

    Jacky: To be honest, I think it’s a hardware issue with your device. So, no amount of hard-resetting will fix the problem. Just my guess. You could try to send it into http://www.rapidrepair.com but I don’t know if it’s worth it to repair the 4 GB Zune. It might be more economical to go with a new Zune HD or maybe buy a 4 GB Zune off ebay for a cheap price.

  47. khamera says:

    im literally crying. i read every single word on this site and heres my prob: when i plug my zune into the computer it works but doesn’t charge; then when i take it out, it just completely goes blank. I’m scared something worse might happen, i really need help im not in a happy mood right now:(

  48. zunetips says:

    khamera: Did you try plugging your Zune into an AC Wall Adapter? Your computer might not have enough current to adequately charge your Zune from the USB port. I know from experience that USB ports can get shorted out or be damaged to the point where they can’t charge devices sufficiently. If your Zune won’t charge even from an AC Adapter, then the problem could be a bad battery.

  49. Felicia says:

    I just got a Zune HD for Christmas it worked for a few days then it stopped. I tried resetting it a bunch of times and nothing happened, I plugged it into my computer and it didn’t even show up on the program. Its done that twice but the first time it worked the next day. Now it doesn’t work. WHAT DO I DO!?

  50. zunetips says:

    My suggestion would be to return the Zune HD to where ever it was purchased and get a new one. If that is not possible, I would check the http://www.zune.net web site for a phone number to call for warranty repair. Before you do all that, make sure you’re sufficiently charging the Zune HD as some times a computer’s USB port may not be outputting enough volts and/or amps to correctly charge the Zune. You should try charging your Zune with a wall AC charger just to be sure. If after you try that and the Zune still doesn’t turn on or work properly, I would deem it as defective and try to exchange it for a new one.

  51. Levi says:

    I can’t find my serial number ! I have no clue where it is at.

  52. zunetips says:

    I suggest you do a Google search for “Zune serial number where is it” and see what answers pop up.

  53. bill says:

    Great website / info. My Zune is now able to boot up!!!

  54. khanh says:

    my zune wont turn on even i try everything to restart it

  55. Denise Hullsiek says:

    I bought a used Zune player and had no idea it was scratched and dented. I wanted to know how I could possibly get it fixed or sent to be repaired? Also, how much it would cost? I would really appreciate as much information as possible to get this fixed. Thank you!! -Denise Hullsiek

  56. Rake Blocker says:

    Sir , I have a zine 32gb as one shown in the above picture . None of its buttons are responding only the lock button is working .I also reset it but nothing changed .what should I do?

  57. zunetips says:

    Wow, I think it’s time to replace your old Zune with an iPod! I don’t believe there much you can do to resurrect your ancient media player. My last posting was 6 years ago, and since then a lot has changed. I now watch videos on my Android tablet (either ripped video files or streaming from Hulu/Amazon/Netflix). I also have a small Apple iPod that I use at the gym and also with my car (I hook it up with a USB cable and my car reads the files as a USB drive).

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