When you first get rolling with XBMC out-of-the-box, you may not be overly enthusiastic about the appearance. By default XBMC 11 ships with the Confluence skin that, while it looks clean, can easily be replaced by one of the other user-made skins. The most impressive one that I found is the Aeon MQ 3 skin which sports a very modern look that is sure to impress anyone that sets eyes on it. I can only imagine the amount of time that’s been spent on the skin given how polished it is.
So how do you get an awesome skin like Aeon MQ 3 installed? For some of the skins they are offered directly through the official XBMC repository (Settings -> Add-ons -> Get Add-ons -> XBMC.org Add-ons -> Skin), and there are a couple of skins in there that are worth checking out. One of my favorites is probably Transparency, but I still prefer Aeon MQ 3.
For Aeon MQ 3, the process is a bit different. For this particular one you’ll either need to download the skin manually or you can set up the developer’s repository. I’m going to show you how to set up the repository and install the skin that way because that means you’ll be able to get future updates a lot easier. Here’s what you need to do:
- Download the “Skin Aeon MQ 3 – Repository” file
- In XBMC navigate to Settings -> Add-ons
- Select the option to Install From ZIP File
- Browse for the repository file you downloaded and add it
- You should be automatically returned back to the Add-ons screen. From there go to Get Add-ons -> Repo Aeon MQ 3 -> Skin -> Aeon MQ 3. You should now see the Install button to install the theme.
- When the download finishes you should get a prompt asking if you want to switch to the new skin. Choose Yes.
- When you go back to the XBMC home screen you’ll be prompted with a short wizard that walks you through a couple of the basic configuration steps. You’ll also be able to choose how complex/customizable you want the skin to be. For myself I went with the Normal option, but don’t fret too much over any of the options you choose because you can always go back and change them in the skin settings.
You should now be sporting a refreshed XBMC look and feel, but to really take advantage of it you’ll need to dive into some of the skin’s settings (Settings -> Skin). If you went with the Aeon MQ 3 theme you may want to enable some of the alternate views for your videos:
- In XBMC go to Settings -> Skin -> ViewTypes and browse through the different views that are available. Turn on any of the views you think you might want to use, but note that some of the views require other add-ons since they use artwork that the built-in TV/movie scraper doesn’t grab. This is what the view selection looks like:
- Navigate back to one of your media folders in XBMC, and you should be able to either press the up/down or left/right arrow to make the view menu appear along the left side of the screen. From there you can switch between any of the views you just enabled as well as tweak certain aspects of each of the views.
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!