Yesterday we covered how to install new skins in XBMC, and today we are going to show you how you can customize the backgrounds skins use for each of the entries on the main home screen menu. When I hover over the movies menu, for example, mine will rotate through over a dozen photos that I downloaded of my favorite movies. You can tweak these settings directly from the XBMC interface, but I actually found it to be faster to change the settings in the appropriate configuration file. So I’ll show you both methods and you can pick the one you find to work better.
Sources for Images:
If you are looking for somewhere to get images for your favorite TV shows and movies, I recommend heading over to TheTVDB or TheMovieDB. Each has a vast selection of 1920×1080 backgrounds that can easily be downloaded to your machine.
Update Backgrounds in XBMC:
In XBMC navigate to Settings -> Skin, and there should be an option related to backgrounds or backdrops depending on the skin you are using. Select the menu item you want to modify, and then choose whether you want to set it to a single background image or multiple images:
Now just save the settings, go back to the home screen, and you should see that the changes have already taken effect.
Update Backgrounds Through Configuration Files:
If you are updating all of the various menu items it might be faster if you work directly in the guisettings.xml configuration file. Before making any changes to this particular file make sure you close out of XBMC first. After that go ahead and navigate to your profile folder:
- Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/XBMC/userdata/
- Windows: %appdata%\XBMC\userdata\
And then open up the guisettings.xml file.
Now you need to know what to look for. There is a lot of data crammed in the guisettings.xml file, and the setting names will change based upon the skin you are using. I’m going to provide the names you need for the Confluence skin (the default skin) as well as the Aeon MQ 3.
The portions of the XML file we will be looking for are going to be in this format:
<setting type=”string” name=”SKIN_MENU_ID“>FILE_OR_FOLDER_PATH</setting>
The SKIN_MENU_ID is what you’ll search for in the guisettings.xml file, and the exact name will depend on the background image you’re looking to modify:
- Weather: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Weather_Folder
- Pictures: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Pictures_Folder
- Videos: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Video_Folder
- Movies: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Movies_Folder
- TV Shows: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_TVShow_Folder
- Music: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Music_Folder
- Programs: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Programs_Folder
- Play Disc: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_PlayDisc_Folder
- Settings: skin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Settings_Folder
Aeon MQ 3 Theme:
- Videos: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomVideos_Background
- Music: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomMusic_Background
- Movies: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomMovies_Background
- Disc: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomDisc_Background
- TV Shows: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomTVShows_Background
- Live TV: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomLiveTV_Background
- Games: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomGames_Background
- Pictures: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomPictures_Background
- Weather: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomWeather_Background
- Shutdown: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomShutdown_Background
- Music Videos: skin.aeonmq.3.CustomMusicVideos_Background
Once you’ve found the one you want to update, then you need to put in the FILE_OR_FOLDER_PATH. As you might guess that is the path to a single image or multiple images (if a folder is provided). You can use files that are stored locally on the computer or any one of the remote protocols that XBMC supports, such as SMB, FTP or AFP. Here are some examples of what the paths might look like:
- Local (single image): C:\XBMC\Backgrounds\movies.jpg
- Local (multiple images): C:\XBMC\Backgrounds\Movies\
- SMB: smb://192.168.1.10/XBMC/Backgrounds/movies.jpg
- AFP: afp://192.168.1.10/XBMC/Backgrounds/movies.jpg
After you’re done making your changes you should save the file, and then start up XBMC. You’ll see the result of your hard work:
CyberNet’s XBMC Guides:
- XBMC: Introduction to Our Upcoming Guides
Our introduction provides some of the deciding factors for switching from Windows Media Center to XBMC.
- XBMC: Build Your Own HTPC
Our extensive guide on the hardware we chose for our home theater PCs (HTPCs), the cost, and some tips on choosing the hardware for your own HTPC.
- XBMC: Prepare and Optimize Windows 7
A helpful list of tips to optimize the performance of Windows 7 so that the system is able to offer as many resources to XBMC as it can.
- XBMC: IR Receiver and Remote (Harmony, Xbox 360, and More)
If you want your HTPC to operate like a set-top box you’ll definitely want to get a remote control configured, and for me this was a critical step so that I wouldn’t have to be concerned about less tech-savvy users trying to use my TV.
- XBMC: Share and Sync Media/Settings Between Multiple XBMC Installs
Configuring XBMC to share settings between multiple instances means you’ll be able to stop a show in one room, and seamlessly pick up where you left off in another room.
- XBMC: Fit the Picture to Your TV with Overscan
If XBMC doesn’t fit your TV screen perfectly there are a couple of steps you can take to get it just right.
- XBMC: Installing Skins
How to tweak the appearance of XBMC so that it looks the way you want it to.
- XBMC: Custom Home Screen Menu Backgrounds
Make the backgrounds of your chosen skin/theme a little more interesting by having it flip through artwork from your favorite TV shows and movies.
- XBMC: Dynamic Weather Backgrounds
If you’re using the Aeon MQ 3 theme you can have it use dynamic wallpapers that change based on the time of day and current weather conditions.
- XBMC: SMB on Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)
I use a Mac to serve up files to my XBMC instances running on Windows, and so my preferred protocol for sharing files is SMB. This guide explains how you can get a XBMC-compatible version of SMB running on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
- XBMC: Adding Media Sources
Learn how to add your media to XBMC and turn on the appropriate content scrapers.
- XBMC: Troubleshoot Buffering Issues
Trying to troubleshoot buffer issues in XBMC can be quite a pain, and so I lay out some of the most common culprits.
- XBMC: Test Your HTPC with High Bitrate Sample Videos
Want to see how well your HTPC performs? Throw some of these high bitrate 1080p sample videos at it.
- XBMC: More Advanced Settings
Configure some of the settings that you won’t find anywhere in the GUI.
- XBMC: Stream Hulu, Food Network, and More
Thanks to add-ons you can stream videos from some of your favorite sources including Hulu, Food Network, HGTV, TWiT, and more.
- XBMC: AirPlay on Windows
Send videos from your iOS device to any XBMC instance with very little configuration.
- XBMC: Web Interface and Chrome Extension
As long as you are on the same network as your XBMC box you can control it from any browser using the built-in web interface, or you can install a Chrome extension to make it even easier.
- XBMC: iPhone and iPad Remote
If you own an iPhone or iPad you can enjoy one of the best XBMC remote control experiences I’ve seen, and it will only cost you a few bucks.
- XBMC: A List of Our Guides, Plus Helpful Wiki and Forum Posts
A recap of all the guides we’ve written as well as useful wiki and forum post from the official XBMC.org site.
- XBMC: Free and Official iOS Remote for XBMC Released
This is the free and official XBMC remote control iOS app (optimized for both the iPhone and iPad). It will let you easily control all of the XBMC instances in your house as long as they are all on the same network.
- XBMC: Running XBMC on Startup in Windows 8
Learn how you can make XBMC start automatically when Windows 8 boots.
- XBMC: Send YouTube Videos From Chrome to XBMC
Send YouTube videos from your PC to any XBMC instance in a single click.
- XBMC: Aeon MQ 4 Skin
If you’re looking for one of the best and most popular XBMC skins the Aeon MQ 4 is a great choice.
- XBMC: Android Widget Remote Control
Control multiple instances of XBMC without ever having to open an app on your Android device!