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Friday, February 11, 2011

Express Burn those CDs

by Martin Courcells

I'm always attracted to simple applications. Much of the CD burning software out there is full of bells and whistles. Sometimes, I'd rather just have a straightforward, no nonsense application and have an easy way of simply burning a CD. Oh, and it has to be fully accessible. Sure, I can use my screen reader review cursor and find buttons to click, but sometimes I just want things to work. Here comes Express Burn by NCH software to the rescue.  

First, you can visit to read what Express Burn can do for you. For convenience, I have posted the direct link to the download below:

Click on the above link and choose "run" or ALT+R to commence downloading. You'll have to press ALT+R again to start the setup. Run through the various setup screens in order to install the program. Use the usual TAB, SHIFT+TAB and SPACEBAR to navigate these screens. One particular screen lists other products that NCH has created as well. You can choose whether to install them or not. Once you click finish, the program will install and then show a web page with further options. Simply close this screen, unless you want to read further.  

The Main Screen:

Go to the desktop by pressing WINDOWS+M. Press the letter E until you get to the Express Burn Icon. Press ENTER and you're in.  

On second thought, we're burning a CD right? So, put one of those nifty CD/R disks into your burner and close the drive. An autoplay screen will come up. ARROW around until you hear "Burn a CD with Express Burn". Press ENTER and the program will be launched for you automagically.  

The program cursor will always be in the ListView when you first start the program. This is where the data of your project will reside. It's presently empty since we haven't added anything yet. Let's TAB through the screen. And I'll list the buttons, with their accompanying shortcuts and a quick explanation of what they do:

  • Add File(s), CONTROL+A: let's you add 1, or many files to your project.
  • Add Folder, CONTROL+F: enables the dump of a whole folder to your project. Very handy if your albums are organized in folder fashion.
  • CD-Text, No shortcut: This is the button that activates the area where you can title your CD and verify your CD track names.
  • Edit with WavePad, CONTROL+E: (only visible when audio files have been added to the project). This is an audio editor also available through NCH Software.
  • Play, Function key F9: Plays the tracks.
  • Stop, function key F10: pauses the track.
  • Burn Audio CD, Function key F3: Will burn the project to a CD.

Creating and burning your first Audio CD:

Here is a quick example of how you would create and burn your first Audio CD. This presumes that you already have digital audio material to burn to said CD. You also know where this music resides on your computer. In general, for windows 7 users, this material would be under:

C:\users\JohnDoe\music, replace JohnDoe with your user name.

Under windows XP, the music folder is generally found under:

C:\documents and settings\JohnDoe\my documents\my music

Again, JohnDoe is replaced with your user name.

Enough of this nerdy stuff, let's get going.  

Adding Files:

  1. Press CONTROL+A to add files, or just TAB to Add files and press ENTER.
  2. A file manipulation window will open up. This is the same sort of window you would encounter in Word for example. You are at an edit box where you could type the filename. I prefer to go find the file by using the file panel. Depending on the flavor of Windows, you can reach this by pressing SHIFT+TAB once or twice. From there, use the UP and DOWN ARROWS to move through the folder structure, RIGHT ARROW to open a folder, LEFT ARROW to close one, BACKSPACE to move back within the folder tree and finally, ENTER to select one file.
  3. The audio file will be brought into the program and will appear in the list view.

    You can repeat the above process to add more files. Hint: You can add more than one file at once by holding down the CONTROL key while within the file list, moving around with the UP and DOWN ARROW keys and pressing SPACEBAR on the wanted files. Once you've selected the files, press ENTER and they will all be inserted into the project.  

Editing THE ListView:

Once you've got your list of files, you can ARROW through them to make sure they're all there. You can remove a file by pressing SHIFT+DELETE. You can delete the whole list by pressing CONTROL+DELETE. Let's Burn The CD:

You can either TAB to the Burn CD Button and press ENTER, or simply press F3. The Burn CD screen will be presented.

You can TAB through the selections if you're curious, or just press ENTER to start. The program will announce its progress during the burning process. Once it's all done, the CD will be ejected out of the drive. And you're done. Congratulations, you've completed your first music CD.

There are many more hidden options within this program. They are found within the menus. For example, you can burn Data CDs and both data and movie DVDs. You can even add more options to the free program by purchasing the full product.

Hopefully, the above information has given you enough to get started with this program. Happy Burning!

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