How to use Winamp with the NVDA screen reader

Winamp (which stands for Windows Audio MPEG Player) is a program by Nullsoft which allows computer users to play audio files (such as music), in a variety of digital audio formats. These include MP3, MS-Audio and WAV. Winamp allows the user to listen to SHOUTcast streaming radio broadcasts. The program also allows the user to convert audio from analogue tape recorders, phonographs, and other media to MP3 digital format. This tutorial relates to Winamp version 5.666 build 3512.

Where can I get Winamp from?

To obtain a copy of Winamp please go to the following link

Addon available for Winamp

There is an addon that you can get for Winamp to allow more functionality while using Winamp with NVDA. To make sure you get the most out of this addon, please take a minute or two to read the instructions after installing the add on into NVDA.  To obtain the addon please go to and look for the extended Winamp addon.

After Winamp has been set up


Winamp can be started from the desktop (or by going to it under the All Programs menu/Winamp section). Press the Enter key to start the program.

When Winamp has been launched

Make sure Winamp is in focus. You can press the NVDA key and the letter T. This will speak out the title of the program (for example: Winamp 5.666 Build 3512). Press the Alt key + the letter F to bring up the Winamp menu. Once it appears, you can use the arrow keys to navigate the program’s options.

About Winamp

Press the Alt key + the letter F to bring up the Winamp menu. (Winamp must be opened first). Next, arrow down, until you hear Nullsoft Winamp, then press the Enter key. This will bring up your default browser so you can find out more information about Winamp such as credits, version numbers and shortcut keys.  It may be a good idea to copy all the Winamp shortcut keys into a Txt file, and save them for later reference when you go to use the program.

Getting help in Winamp

Pressing the F1 key will bring up the help section in Winamp. It can also be found under the Winamp Help section in the main menu. The help section seems to be the most underused section of any program.

The following sections may answer some of your questions about Winamp…

The best view for Winamp

It has been advised that the best view for a screen reader user is the Winamp Classic skin.  The Winamp classic skin can be found under the skins menu in Winamp. Make sure that this menu item is checked, so that you know you are using the Classic skin.

Winamp playlist editor

When the playlist editor is checked, any music you have playing will come up in this editor.

You can use the Ctrl key and the Tab key to get to this editor. When you are in the editor, you can use the up and down arrow keys to see what music you have loaded. This will be spoken out by NVDA.

Pressing the NVDA key and the Tab key will inform you of the song, if you missed it. This will speak the focused object or area.  You can also right click in this section so more options are brought up. Use the multiply key on the numeric keypad to do this. When this appears it will give you a heap of different options (for example play item, send to, ,jump to file, remove item and so on).

To find out more information about the song

To view the file info on the song you are interested in, (while in the playlist editor) locate the song you want and press the Alt key + the number 3 key on the qwerty keyboard. When the File Info dialogue comes up, you can Tab down the different sections of this dialogue box. It will give you information on the artist, song, year and so on if present.

Make sure you check out the different sections under the tabs section (for example Basic info, artwork, id3v1 and id3v2 tabs).  For the tabs, use the left and right arrow keys and to go into any sections just use the Tab key.

Returning to the main player area in Winamp

To get back to the Winamp layer simply use the Ctrl key + the Tab key to focus you back on the player.

Cycling between windows in Winamp

If there are more than 2 windows open, when pressing the Ctrl key + the Tab key this will cycle you through them (for example the Winamp player, the Winamp editor and equaliser).

The Winamp equaliser

This window is not really accessible to a screen reader user. There are sliders you can adjust with a physical mouse.  If mouse tracking is turned on in NVDA, you will hear the different frequencies spoken as you move the mouse across the equaliser. Holding down the left mouse button while on a slider can adjust it. If you have some sight, this section may be of more use to you.

In this section there are also preset options in Winamp. You will need to move the mouse around until you hear open presets, then left click with the physical mouse. This will give you different options as you arrow up and down this screen. Press the Enter key to go into any of these sections (for example through and adjust).

To access the equaliser, you must have the equaliser in focus. Press the letter S and it will give you a context menu with the options Load, Save or Delete which you can arrow through. Arrow down to Load, and press Enter. It will default to the word Load. Press Enter. This may be titled Load Equal Preset.  Here you can select the equaliser settings for the type of music you are listening to (for example Pop or Classical. Tab to load and press Enter. Take the same steps again should you wish to change the Equal Preset to a different category.

Listening to your music in Winamp

In most cases, when people back up their music, they will put them into folders. They might have a main folder (called for example full albums) and within this folder, they might have their entire music collection put into separate folders, so that they are easier to find. Usually these folders will have the artist’s name and album title. Within each of these folders, there will be the songs for that album (maybe in various formats for example mp3 or wma).

Adding music to your playlist editor to listen to

To play any of these albums in Winamp (from the main menu) arrow down to the play menu. A sub menu will then come off it. Press right arrow, then arrow down to folder, then press the Enter key. The next screen that comes up will put you into a treeview. Use your up, down, right and left arrow keys to navigate the tree until you find the music folder you are looking for (for example computer...D drive...full albums...midnight Oil 10 to 1). Press the Enter key and this album will be added to the play list editor and start playing.

Creating a specific playlist in Winamp

If you keep on repeating the process for adding your music folders, you will notice your playlist getting bigger and bigger. You might want to make a playlist with only certain types of music in them (for example rock, pop, blues and so on).  Once you have created a playlist and you are happy with the songs in that playlist, the next thing you might want to do is save your playlist. These could be made into different playlists (for example rock, 70s music and so on).

Saving your playlist

While in the Winamp editor where all of your songs are located, press the Ctrl key and the letter S. This will bring up the standard Windows save as dialogue box. NVDA will default to the file name section of it. Put in the name of the playlist you want it to be (for example 70s music). Tab around until you hear where the file is going to be or you want it to be (for example in Windows 7 it will say address). Tab around until you hear save, then press the Enter key and the playlist will be saved to the area you have specified.

The next time you want to play the selection that you have put together, it is a matter of finding the playlist you want (for example rock, pop, blues and so on). Once you have selected this, the playlist you put together earlier on will be played for you. Most people will save their playlist into the root directory of where there music is stored (for example in your full albums folder where all of your music is stored) or they may want to put it onto a CD for backup.

Deleting out songs in Winamp

When you are putting together your new playlist, there may be songs you don't want in the playlist. While in the playlist editor, locate the song you don't want then hit the delete key, then that song will be gone.

Some Winamp shortcut keys that you will find of use

X                      Play song, make sure main window is active by pressing Alt + W twice

V                      Stop song

Shift + V           Stop song with fadeout

C                      Pause and unpause song

B/Z                   Jump to next or previous song

For a full list of shortcut keys, please see the Nullsoft Winamp menu (under Nullsoft Winamp/keyboard shortcuts).