A Review of Ashampoo My Autoplay Menu

My Autoplay Menu provides the ability to burn a CD/DVD, which auto-loads and displays a graphical menu. This program is designed to work with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Software of this type inhabits the nice to have space. It's aimed at small businesses which could use the software as an advertising tool, and to those who package photographs, music and video as gifts or for personal use.


PURCHASE AND INSTALLATION

I downloaded the product from the Ashampoo website. Ashampoo is an international software company, based in Germany. My Autoplay Menu may be purchased or downloaded on a forty day trial basis.

Installation was simple and straightforward. I chose the custom method to avoid installing the toolbar - I tend to avoid add-ons.


THE TEST DRIVE

A double-click of the icon loaded the first screen. The project can be named and setup as browser based or as a stand-alone project. I chose stand-alone. Background music can be added but, If the project will include music or video with sound, do not select this option.


Clicking the next button loaded the screen displayed above. I highlighted the root folder with a mouse click. Next, I chose New Folder and typed in My Test Photographs. This test includes a video so I highlighted the root folder again, and chose New Folder. After naming the folder My Test Video, I repeated the process naming the newly created folder, My Installable Programs. I highlighted the My Installable Programs folder and chose New Folder. This process was repeated twice, naming each newly created folder after the program that would be copied into it.

I then highlighted My Test Photographs and selected Add Files. It was easy to browse through my photograph collection and copy several of my favorites. This process was repeated for the My Test Video folder and the three subfolders of My Installable Programs.

At this point I selected the next button, located at the bottom of the screen, and moved onto the subsequent step.


When the finished product - disc or flash drive - is inserted, the Splash screen will be displayed temporarily. This could consist of an imported image or one of Ashampoo's premade Splash screens. A business might display their letterhead or an example of their work. I selected a picture I'd taken of trees highlighted by the setting sun. Satisfied with the result, I click the next button.


This screen is where the graphical menu is designed. It can be a little confusing. With practice, however, the end result will consist of a set of buttons, designed to allow the viewer to navigate throughout the disc, set against a pleasant background.

I clicked insert, located at the top of the screen, and selected image. From there I browsed to my photograph of a yellow flower set against a grassy field. I selected this image as a backdrop to my graphical menu. The picture did not fill the entire screen but I widened it by dragging the side of the image further to the right.

The following step involved inserting a button. I clicked insert and selected Button-Large size. By double-clicking the newly created button, I brought up the Edit Button Menu.


From there the button could be named My Photographs. I selected Open Folder from the Action menu and browsed to, and selected, the My Test Photographs folder which had been previously created. This procedure was repeated for the My Video button and the My Installable Programs button.

I inserted a final button called My Web Based Review and selected Action, Open the Website. It required the web address so I loaded Firefox (Internet Explorer will work as well) and navigated to my review concerning a program called Ashampoo, WinOptimizer. I copied the web address and pasted it into the proper spot in the Autoplay Menu Edit Button menu.

There are a couple of other interesting options in the Action menu. One provided the ability to open a program by clicking a button. Another option uses a button to close the program.

I selected file from the top of the screen and saved the project. Then I click next.


The program created a content file. The following screen provided the choice of either burning to disc, saving as a file on my hard drive, or saving to a removable device. I inserted a blank DVD and chose to burn a disc. My Autoplay Menu includes burning software. A couple of minutes later the files were copied and the DVD ejected.

I shoved in the disc and held my breath. An option was provided to launch the disc. I accepted and waited until the splash screen appeared, along with the music I'd selected earlier. The image filled the entire screen. Seconds later it was replaced by the graphical menu. This menu, which took up only part of the screen, appeared quite professional.

The menu worked as advertised. The Photo button launched Photo Commander, my photo management program, and the pictures, which had been copied to the disk, could be accessed. The Video button pointed to the test video. The Installable Programs button brought up the proper files and I could install them from the disc. The Web Based review button launched Firefox and navigated automatically to the proper webpage.


FINAL CONCLUSION

I will often give copies of software as Christmas presents, but sometimes these programs are never used. Perhaps this is because the format does not appear professional, perhaps because software is a boring gift.

My Autoplay Menu can help. Once the recipient pops the disc into his drive, he is asked if he wants to load it. Then the Splash screen appears - maybe a picture of his beloved Harley-Davidson? The menu could allow him to load a disc-based game, view pictures of his family and, of course, install the software program that had been purchased for him.

A small business could hand discs to potential customers. The Splash screen for a Kennel could display an image of the breed they sold. The menu could direct the customer to pictures of the facility, staff, and the animal population. Perhaps a video that demonstrated methods of training would be helpful.

In the beginning I felt My Autoplay Menu to be confusing, but it is fairly intuitive and I found my way around quickly enough. If problems are encountered, the help menu provides useful information.

The latest version of Ashampoo Burning Studio includes the ability to create autoplay menus. Other software suites such as Roxio and Nero may as well. I suggest you check out your present burning software before you purchase My Autoplay Menu.

This software is versatile and quite easy to use. It has my recommendation.



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