The standard Windows startup sound is shorter that it’s load time, making it a less than ideal indicator of when your machine is ready to use. If you time your startup and make a sound file which is of a similar length to the load time, you are able to use it as an indicator of when your machine is ready for action, giving the start-up sound a real purpose.
This time varies greatly from computer to computer, and changes according to what operating system you are using and what programs and tasks you have running at startup.
Even if you do not want a long startup sound, it is worth placing silence before the sound you currently use so that the startup sound comes to an end at the right time.
Vista has a predefined startup sound which cannot be changed. This is part of their branding. You may want to get around this by changing the login sound instead of the startup sound, though this will not be covered in the article.
This article will show you how to edit or change your current Windows XP startup sound so that you can use it as an indicator of when your machine is ready to use, or to add a personalised touch to your computer. It can also be a nice wakeup call when you get into work as music can lift your spirits and get you in the right frame of mind.
Using a startup sound will slow down your startup minimally, but as computers are so powerful these days, this will not be easily noticed.
It is worth book marking this page or printing it out before continuing as you will need to reboot your computer a couple of times whilst you set this up, if you want to follow all the steps in this article.
Timing your startup:
Reboot your computer and start the clock from the login screen, or from where you hear your current startup sound playing.
Time how long this takes before you can start loading up programs of your own. Ensure that all the usual icons are in the task tray. To test that you have completely booted up, try loading a program and see if it takes the usual time. If the program loads up as quick as usual, you know your boot up was complete. This is something you will have to play with and figure out.
This is not a perfect science as your computer may do different things on different occasions, so we cannot be completely accurate, but we can get close.
This number can be anywhere from a few seconds to at most a few minutes (hopefully not, for your sake). This is the length of the startup sound you will want to make.
Find a Tune:
Find a song or sound sample that you would like to use as your startup sound. Copy it to a place you can easily access. You are only able to use WAV files, though other formats can be converted easily. I will be using the default Windows startup WAV file, and converting a MP3 file for this article to cover a couple of scenarios.
If you want to edit your current sound, these can be found in the “C:\Windows\Media” directory. Copy the file to an easy to access location and rename the file. Ensure you leave the original file intact.
Editing the original Windows Startup File:
Load the file up in a sound editing program. I recommend Audacity as it is quick and easy to use, as well as being free. Find out more about it here.
To add silence to the beginning of the file, so that your final sound file is the length of your boot up, follow the next few steps.
Click on “Generate”
Enter the duration of the silence you would like to add to the file, before the Windows sound starts. As the Windows startup sound is roughly 4 seconds long, and your boot up is 30 seconds, do the math and add 26 seconds of silence.
Click on “File”
Name the file and save it to your “C:\Windows\Media” Folder, ensuring that you do not overwrite the original.
Scroll down the article to see how to make Windows play this file at startup.
Editing your own Startup File:
Find an MP3 of a song you like and load it into Audacity. I can’t really go into a detailed tutorial of how to use the program but it is easy.
Find a segment of the song which you like and crop out the rest, making it roughly the length of your computers startup. You can do things like fade in/fade out effects or chop and change various parts of the song, so all you listen to each morning is the parts you really enjoy. 30 seconds can be enough time for an intro, a verse and a chorus depending on the type of music you listen to.
Once you have done this, export the file to WAV format and copy it to the “C:\Windows\Media” folder.
(Updated 13/09/07) When I initially tried this out a while back, I did not come across any problems playing a long track. The test file I used for writing this article was 19 seconds. I am not sure what has changed, probably just my memory.
If your file is longer than around 20 seconds, you may find that when you test your new startup sound, it cuts off at around this mark. There is a workaround for it, and that is to save your file at a lower bit depth.
To export your wav file in a lower bit depth:
In the “Save as Type” pulldown menu, select wav
In the Format Pulldown, select “Other”
For the header select WAV. The encoding you can play around with to find what best suits you. I have successfully had a song play for 1m:30s using Unsigned 8 bit PCM, and the quality was not too bad at all. Most machines should be completely loaded up well before this. Your filesize should now be no more then around 10MB.
Changing your Windows Startup Sound:
Click on “Sounds and Audio Devices”
Go into the “Sounds” Tab
Scroll down to “Start Windows”
Select the file you have just changed.
You can test it by pressing the play button to make sure you have the right one.
Restart your computer:
The final step is to test out your new creation. Restart your computer and see how it all sounds and if it is the correct length. Try to open a program immediately after the sound sample is finished and ensure that it loads up swiftly.
I hope you have found this article useful. Please stick around and check out some other stuff at Inspect My Gadget.