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:

Xbmc background change

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:

Confluence Theme:

  • Weatherskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Weather_Folder
  • Picturesskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Pictures_Folder
  • Videosskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Video_Folder
  • Moviesskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Movies_Folder
  • TV Showsskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_TVShow_Folder
  • Musicskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Music_Folder
  • Programsskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Programs_Folder
  • Play Discskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_PlayDisc_Folder
  • Settingsskin.confluence.Home_Custom_Back_Settings_Folder

Aeon MQ 3 Theme:

  • Videosskin.aeonmq.3.CustomVideos_Background
  • Musicskin.aeonmq.3.CustomMusic_Background
  • Moviesskin.aeonmq.3.CustomMovies_Background
  • Discskin.aeonmq.3.CustomDisc_Background
  • TV Showsskin.aeonmq.3.CustomTVShows_Background
  • Live TVskin.aeonmq.3.CustomLiveTV_Background
  • Gamesskin.aeonmq.3.CustomGames_Background
  • Picturesskin.aeonmq.3.CustomPictures_Background
  • Weatherskin.aeonmq.3.CustomWeather_Background
  • Shutdownskin.aeonmq.3.CustomShutdown_Background
  • Music Videosskin.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://
  • AFP: afp://

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: