Step 6: Setting up XBMC

Picture of setting up XBMC
I've tried several media center programs. Windows Media center, web based front ends, and besides the fact that most have to be running on a PC, they cost money. XBMC is opensource, free, and totally customizable. When browsing movies in XBMC, there is little, if any lag, even with large movie collections. With Media Center, the more movies you add the slower it gets. XBMC running on an AppleTV was what sealed the deal to make it my final solution.

Once you boot into XBMC try it out, kick the tires, take it for a spin. then:

Set up your screen
Go into settings> Appearance> Screen. Then select Video Calibration. This will step you through the process to ensure you are utilizing your entire screen, and also that nothing is getting cut off.

Add your media
The next thing to do is add sources. This is where you tell XBMC where your movies are located. If you would like to add parental control, start with your account. Add all of the drives that you have movies on. One source can contain multiple drives and directories.
To add sources click on Videos> (disable Library mode if active)> then click on Add Source.
Choose the right source type, usually SMB, and then browse to your media server. Add as many locations as you need to. Before you hit ok, click on the SET CONTENT button. This is where you tell XBMC what type of content is in the folder. I prefer IMDB, choose the option you prefer, which should be that same place you got he movies names when converting.

repeat this same process for TV shows, music, and photos. you want every path to every location to be listed under one source, for each type of media. in other words, you want 1 source for movies, 1 source TV shows, etc.. each source can contain multiple paths. (watch the video)

Convenient system settings
a few setting that I like to set up for convenience are Update on start up, and I like to get rid of additional menu items that won't be using. this way every time your start XBMC is will update your library, and you won't have to scroll through menu items you don' t use.

"Change the look and Feel"
Next choose your favorite skin. There are three default. I prefer the skin 1/3 Media Stream, it has a separate menu item for TV shows and Movies, and has a better over all look and feel, IMHO.

Library mode vs. File Mode
XBMC has two modes, file mode and library mode. Simply put file mode is for adding sources, seeing all of the options available and is a little more coarse to use. Library mode is for when you have every thing set up, and your ready to just use your new set up. it has a little more elegant look. but if you want to change something on the fly, some extra steps will be required. This is my opinion on how to use XBMC. Configure it to your hearts content!