Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Making A Playlist for Ford SYNC USB Device


General

I use a 64GB USB drive to store my entire music collection for playing in my car using SYNC. It works great. I have every album and song available to play. Ford SYNC has the ability to recognize playlists but has no way to create them. So I set out to find out how to make a playlist on my USB Drive that would be recognized by SYNC.

There are a few examples/methods on the web already which I tried and was unsuccessful. After a few iterations using a playlist generator tool, I was able to get it to work.

The Playlist

First of all, you can examine the contents of a .mu3 file using Windows NotePad. More than likely you will have to choose this option as Windows will want to open it with Windows Media Player. Select the .m3u file and right click. Choose “Open With”. If NotePad is not shown, then click “Select Default Program” and browse for “Notepad”.

A working .m3u file for Ford SYNC will have the following structure:

#EXTM3U
#EXTINF:258,The Best Of The Moody Blues - 9 - I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)
..\MusicCollection\Moody Blues\The Best Of The Moody Blues\I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band).mp3

In my case, music on the USB drive is stored in the MusicCollection folder. In the example above, the actual tracks are in the folder “The Best of The Moody Blues” which is a subfolder of “Moody Blues” so in explorer it would look something like:

MusicCollection
Moody Blues
The Best of the Moody Blues
I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band.mp3

Since I don’t know what drive letter SYNC uses for the USB drive when it is attached we use the relative directory nomenclature “..\” in front of the master folder “MusicCollection”

The .m3u file is saved in the “MusicCollection” folder.

You could create all your playlists in Notepad. It would be a very cumbersome way of doing it. There are several tools available for free that can help. I used Playlist Creator 3.6.2 along with Notepad to make my playlists.

Using Playlist Creator
Playlist Creator can be found here. After loading the program, begin by changing the settings as shown below:



Then, go to the main screen and begin adding files from the USB Drive to your playlist as shown below:


Enter a location to save the playlist. In my case I saved it in the top level folder “MusicCollection”

Then, enter a name for the playlist. Make it simple since you are speaking to SYNC.

Finally, select Create Playlist.

The resulting playlist will look not work. Yet. We must make the location of each song “relative” to what ever SYNC names the USB drive. I did this in NotePad.

Add the Relative Part

Using notepad, open the newly created .m3u file. My looked like this:
#EXTM3U
#EXTINF:233,Away From the Sun - 2 - Away From the Sun
\MusicCollection\3 Doors Down\Away From the Sun\Away From the Sun.mp3
#EXTINF:236,Away From the Sun - 9 - Changes
\MusicCollection\3 Doors Down\Away From the Sun\Changes.mp3
#EXTINF:216,Away From the Sun - 8 - Dangerous Game
\MusicCollection\3 Doors Down\Away From the Sun\Dangerous Game.mp3

Using the “Replace” function replace “\M” with “..\M” as shown below.



The result should look as follows:

#EXTM3U
#EXTINF:233,Away From the Sun - 2 - Away From the Sun
..\MusicCollection\3 Doors Down\Away From the Sun\Away From the Sun.mp3
#EXTINF:236,Away From the Sun - 9 - Changes
..\MusicCollection\3 Doors Down\Away From the Sun\Changes.mp3
#EXTINF:216,Away From the Sun - 8 - Dangerous Game
..\MusicCollection\3 Doors Down\Away From the Sun\Dangerous Game.mp3

Save the file. This playlist should be recognized as a valid playlist in the Ford SYNC system.

Concluding Remarks

I am sure there are other ways to do this, but this system works for me. Any comments are welcome.