Ford Sync 3

Our new Ford Focus arrived on Thursday this week and the 2016 model in the United Kingdom is now shipped with Ford's latest Sync 3 multimedia system which has been available in the USA for some time.

I have a large music collection of around 14,000 tracks and I wanted to be able to use this in the car as I had previously done via an iPod Classic in my old Landrover via an Alpine head unit.

Sync 3 has support for USB drives but the Ford help pages do not seem to have any mention of maximum storage capacity and playlist formats. There is a limit of 50,000 files per device in the handbook but it doesn’t make it clear if this is a limit of 50,000 files overall or mp3/FLAC files. The drive must be formatted in FAT32 format.

I did a lot of research on various Ford official and unofficial forums and there was a lot of confusion on how to get the Sync 3 system to index and read playlist files for your music.

To store the music in the car I decided to use an external SSD hard drive as it would be a lot faster to copy the music onto rather than using a higher capacity USB stick drive. I ordered a Samsung T3 USB 3.1 250 GB External Solid State Drive from Amazon to use for the music.

My music collection is stored on a Synology Diskstation NAS and Windows 10 maps the network drive to a letter on my PC with each album sorted into an artist folder with each artist being in a folder for each letter of the alphabet.

The external SSD drive

The external SSD drive

I use a program called MP3Tag from to update the ID3 tags on my music files and this also has options to generate playlist files (.m3u format) for the selected tracks.

MP3Tag also has an export system where you can write your own custom playlist formats which are exported into the folder of your choice.

MP3Tag file list window

MP3Tag file list window

In MP3Tag I selected all the tracks in the MP3 folder and then used the File – Export menu to open the Export Configuration window.

Export configuration window

Export configuration window

I created a new export preset and called it createplaylists. Select the new export configuration and click the Edit icon (second icon down) which will open the preset in notepad and then add the following code:

$loop(%_filename_ext%)#EXTINF:%_length_seconds%,%artist% - %title%

I saved the file and then on the Export Configuration window I changed the “Export file name:” to the following:


This creates a new playlist file in each of the album folders with the file name being the artist and folder(album) name.

Clicking the “OK” button starts the selected export configuration and after a couple of minutes, it had created all the new playlist files for all the albums.

The screenshot below shows the newly created playlist file for one of the albums.

The exported playlist file

Exported playlist

Note that the file path starts with a back-slash \ character. This tells the Sync 3 software that the file is root relative to the USB drive.

After connecting the SSD drive to the car via the USB connector in the centre console, the Sync 3 system scanned the drive and after a few minutes it had completed the scan and the albums and playlists can be selected and played via the touch screen.

I have added a short video to my YouTube channel showing how to select files from an external USB drive.