How-to: Make your own Windows XP startup sound

Difficulty: 1.5

Musical notesThe 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.

Audacity Win StartupHere is a thumbnail of the default Windows XP startup sound as shown in Audacity.

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”

Select “Silence”

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”

Select “Export”

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:

WavoptionsClick “File”

Click “Export”

In the “Save as Type” pulldown menu, select wav

Click “Options”

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:

Sounds and Audio DevicesOpen up your Control Panel

Click on “Sounds and Audio Devices”

Go into the “Sounds” Tab

Scroll down to “Start Windows”

Click “Browse”

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.

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22 comments so far »

  1. shkumbin said, on September 12, 2007 @ 2:39 am

    its a very good thing you are doing your job very well!!!!!

    From: xXx

  2. Frederick Brown said, on September 13, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    I have a sound file I use for startup that is about a minute in length. It plays for 25 seconds or so and stops, is there a way to make it play the whole file?

  3. Inspect My Gadget said, on September 13, 2007 @ 5:05 pm

    I have updated the article, giving a fix for the dropout after 20 or so seconds. Thanks for letting me know about this.

  4. Ananth said, on December 5, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

    We have a system where in at the logon screen, music starts to play. Problem is that it plays for any login. We checked the Sounds and Audio properties but could not find the file.

    If your method is followed the file should be playing for only that particular user after he has logged in right?

    PLease advise.

  5. Inspect My Gadget said, on December 9, 2007 @ 9:46 am

    Ananth, Sorry about the deley in reply. I wanted to test it out to confirm it.

    The results are in. Each account has its own settings, meaning each account can have its own startup sound by following the above instructions.

    Some corporate networks may have group policies set to restrict you from doing this, but I doubt they would bother restricting it.


  6. Lukenlogs said, on January 3, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

    My startup sound is Jimi Hendrix walking onstage @ Woodstock. He says “I see that we meet again, hmmmmm… yeah la la la…” . I put a nice 1.5 sec’ fade on the end w/ the crowd noise

    My shutdown noise is The Simpsons eating dinner:

  7. abhishek said, on April 10, 2008 @ 8:38 am

    firstly thanks to you to let me know this fantastic technique,
    there is one query that,if i want to restore the original window sound,then should follow the same procedures,if not then plz solve my query

  8. qurux said, on April 18, 2008 @ 8:46 pm

    thank u

  9. nick said, on April 22, 2008 @ 8:57 am

    hey thanks brah, this works awesome 🙂
    for those who want to know Audacity is free at
    thanks again dude.

  10. susanne casey said, on May 22, 2008 @ 12:25 am

    Hi there I just graduated to XP but I was a big fan of changing tunes with WINME and then 2000. I like the fact you explained this so well..but do I need that utility you mentioned above or can I do like I did before and save the same way? I am not exactly a nubie but neither am I greatly skilled lol

  11. Chris Duckworth said, on May 22, 2008 @ 5:49 pm

    Hi Susanne, If you already have a tune, you should be able to copy it across. The only reson I recommend Audacity is because it is powerful, easy to use, and free. Many other programs can do the same job.
    Changing the bit rate is something that Audacity makes easy. This is likely to be necesary if you want the tune to run longer than 20 seconds. I don’t think XP will have had any extra limitations that ME and 2000 did not already have.

  12. Bryan said, on June 10, 2008 @ 3:42 am

    Thank you for the info. I have been having the clipping problem for some time and have not been able to find a work around other than using ‘sleep’ mode, which lets the computer start up with the full sound file for some reason. I tried to go to ‘File’ then ‘Export’, as you suggested, but the copy of Audacity I just downloaded doesn’t have a simple ‘Export’ command. It has ‘Export as wave’ and ‘Export selection as wave’. Both do not allow any adjustment to the file. Tought you might like to know. I have for some time been trying to find a place in the registry that I could change the time limit Windows seems to apply. Glad you found another way. Thanks B

  13. Bryan said, on June 26, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

    Tried what you said, and reduced the file size smaller and smaller until it was 800k, but the startup sound still cuts at the same place as before. Any suggestions? Still couldn’t find the ‘Specify WAV Options’ Thanks B

  14. Chris Duckworth said, on June 30, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

    Hey Bryan, I checked out which version of Audacity I was using, and it was 1.3 Beta.
    To export as a wav I do the following,
    Click File, and Export.
    A save prompt comes up defaulting to the MP3 filetype. Switch it to wav. Give it a filename and click options. This options box has all the number changing stuff you are after, if your version of Audacity is the same.
    How long is your track? I got to 90s, dropping the file to 8 bit. I don’t think it will be listenable dropping the sound quality much more.

  15. Robert Stalker said, on July 9, 2008 @ 2:05 am

    Can you please assist me!
    At boot up of Windows XP Home edition the sounds generated by Windows fail to play.
    Sound card plays DVDs using another software program.

    Thank you.

  16. PacmanLopez said, on October 12, 2008 @ 2:39 am

    Inspect My Gadget – Down-sampling PCM to 8bits is affective but generates a very strong hissing sound, most noticeable during track fade-in/fade-out. Instead, try converting the 16bit wav to the compressed Microsoft ADPCM (max it out to 44.1kHz 4bit stereo if you’d like) and give that a try.

  17. Moses said, on April 26, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    hey i can get tis to work with vista, do you know how i can get it to work on vista, any hlep would be great.
    cheers 🙂

  18. Chris Duckworth said, on April 27, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

    It’s not possible in Vista. A few months after Vista was released they gave us a tickbox to remove the sound, but not change it. You could try disabling the sound and use task scheduler to play a sound at startup.

  19. matt said, on June 19, 2009 @ 4:41 am

    ok, so i changed mine ect. ect. but now i want back defaults,
    i also made sounds for when U minimize maximize and stuff.
    any way to restore ALL defaults? thnx

  20. Chris Duckworth said, on June 19, 2009 @ 10:02 am

    Hi Matt, If you go back into sounds and audio devices, select the sounds tab and then select Windows default.

  21. Anand said, on April 11, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

    Thanks for the nice detailed tutorial 🙂

  22. leomhar said, on October 23, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

    my window xp2007 was installed but no sound..
    where do i get a volume/sound for my laptop window xp 2007?

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