How to Burn Cue Files

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How to Burn Cue Files

MP3 compact discs are very popular among dance club DJs and music aficionados because they contain a lot of music.  One problem with some MP3 CDs is that they don’t cue properly when played in a player that has MP3 playback capabilities.  Sometimes you have to press the fast forward function repeatedly to play back a specific audio file.  To get around this problem, you can burn a cue file along with your compact disc.

Cue Files

The cue file is an index of the contents of an MP3 compact disc, usually encoded in a small text file.  The cue file is the first file burned onto the CD.  The player then recognizes the cue file first, and plays back the audio files based on the index like any other audio CD.  Cue files are especially useful for mixes and music files that played in a preferential order, and if you need to play the CD in a player capable of MP3 playback.


To create the cue file for your MP3 CD, you need the following programs:

  • Text editor (Notepad works in a pinch)
  • CD creation and burning software (the most popular program is Nero Burning ROM)


To create an MP3 CD with a cue file, follow these steps:

  1. Compile the chosen music files in an image file using Nero Burning ROM.  Take note of the track title, track name, and the playback duration (in minutes, seconds, and milliseconds) of a particular part of the mix.  Cue files only work if you have an mix contained in one continuous track.
  2. Create a new text file and name it “Cue Files.txt” (without the quotation marks).
  3. Enter “PERFORMER” without the quotation marks on the first line, followed by a space, and the name of the artist in quotation marks.
  4. Enter “TITLE” without the quotation marks on the second line, followed by a space, and the title of the compilation in quotation marks.
  5. Enter “FILE” without the quotation marks on the third line, followed by a space, and the name of the file in quotation marks.  Follow the description with a space, and specify the encoding (in this case, MP3)
  6. Create the description for the first track.  The description contains four lines of text: the track number (TRACK 01 AUDIO), the title, the performer’s name, and the index (INDEX 01, time specified in minutes, seconds, and milliseconds).  Do the same for the rest of the tracks.
  7. Save the cue file in the same directory as the image file.
  8. Burn the MP3 CD along with the cue file.  It will take longer for Nero to burn your MP3 file, since the software will proceed to “split” the file according to the specifications in the index.

While it takes a bit of time to create cue files, they are particularly useful for musicians and performers who want to shuffle through a continuous track without having to skip through fast forward too often.  With these tips, you can burn better mixes for the jams to play on the floor all night long.