What's Up With Xbox Media Center

October 17, 2005

Big Pimpin: Custom Icons and Thumbnails

One of hottest features of Xbox media center is its look. Chokemaniac has done an incredible job making it very usable and attractive. While a lot has been done to make the interface look great, its up to you to get stylee with your own content.

Luckily there are a few things you can do to get your own custom thumbnails for your videos, music, photos, games, and applications. Read more to learn how you can improve the look of your Xbmc just with a few pixels.

Formats & Sizes
There really isn't any restrictions on image formats used for icons. Gif, Jpg, and Png all work perfect. Png files support alpha channels, so they are usually the best bet for icons in Xbmc. Alpha channels allow for transparency and we know how good transparency can look with an interface this good. Square blocks, yech.

No matter what size your icons are, they will be resized appropriately. But if you know anything about images, you'll want to keep your icons to around 32px by 32px to avoid image degradation due to a large amount of resizing.

Games & Applications
Now that you have some icons you'll want to apply them to your content. Applying custom icons for games and applications is pretty simple. Choose the graphic that you want and then move it to the folder of the application you want it to represent. Rename the image to default.tbn. Tbn is for "thumbnail". Remember, it doesn't matter what the image format is, just change the extension to .tbn

Folder Icons
Creating thumbnail for a folder is just as easy. Put the graphic within the folder you'd like it to display for and name it folder.jpg. A cinch! This works great for album folders and genre folders for movies.

Music Files
To grab album art for your music, select the song you'd like to grab info for and bring up the contextual menu. Select Album Information and Xbmc will get the cover art as well as album info. It will also automatically apply the album art to the rest of the songs in the album.

Video Files
Most of us are using Xbmc as a means to view our mass library of movies stored on a server. Of course for browsing, it'd be nice to have the corresponding movie poster that goes along with all of our movies. Thanks to the awesome functionality provided by Xbmc, we can get that with a touch of a button. Place your cursor on a movie and bring up the contextual menu. Choose Search IMDB... and Xbmc will query IMDB.com to grab the movie poster as well as the movie information.

Let's say IMDB grabs the movie info and no movie poster, or the movie poster it DID get isn't what you want. Its easy to replace the image. First go to Imdb.com and get the IMDB number from the URL of the movie. IE, The Day After Tomorrow's URL is: http://imdb.com/title/tt0312600/, so remember 'tt0312600' and use it to rename your thumbnail, imdbtt0073486.jpg. Then place it in the thumbs/imdb directory at the root of your Xbmc directory and it will be applied to the movie file.

For files that can't get any IMDB info, name the icon file the same as the file you would like it to represent with a .tbn extension ie: Transformers.avi, Transformers.tbn.

Ok, while I didn't mean for that to be that long, I wanted to make sure it was complete and easy to follow. Stick around for more how-to's in the Big Pimpin' series.


  • Using folder.jpg for movies and videos is the ticket. I dont know how many times I had to re-coverize my collection after updates to XBMC changed the datatbase structure making my old cover database unusable. Finally I took the time to go through my entire collection and add folder.jpg and man was it worth it. Now I just make sure I have a folder.jpg on any new content I add and I always have good correct cover images!

    By Anonymous TheJT, at 11:11 AM  

  • but folder.jpg will only give you an icon for the folder. You would need to make an icon for a movie like this: "Batman Begins.tbn" for it to work locally.

    I used to do this, but found it really cluttered up my movie directorys on my server and didn't like it. So i use the IMDB functionality.

    Also, you can recursively scan your movie files by going to the top level of the directory structure and use the contextual menu to tell it to search for everything. I believe you pick "Scan". It will get everything from IMDB for you with one click.

    By Blogger Jon, at 11:15 AM  

  • 'Scan' is a viable solution to data base structure change, just be sure you named your movie file exactly the same way as it is named in the IMDB since scan uses the first entry found in IMDB.
    Is there anyone who can answer on this one : how can one use 'landscape'format icons on movies. When I take screenshots they are rather landscape shape while the skins provide portrate shaped icons.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:53 PM  

  • great info! maybe some good links to icons on the web would make this perfect.

    now all i have to do is figure out why i can't execute any of the programs in 'my programs'

    By Anonymous legal sin, at 6:41 PM  

  • i officially just switched over to xbmc as my default dash. after a couple hours i figured out how to add a button to the menu for Xbox Live and added a menu graphic for it too. Made the weather just a tiny button rather than a menu selection.
    microsoft is still my default dvd player. i hope work continues on the xbmc dvd player after 360 comes out.

    By Anonymous legal sin, at 5:46 PM  

  • wow, what took ya so long. I can't imagine still booting to Evox or one of the other dashboards.

    For me, my xbox IS xbmc, its all i use it for.

    By Blogger Jon, at 5:55 PM  

  • i'd say the complexity of editing the skin is what took me so long. simply adding a button called xbox live took me way too long.

    i'm almost happy with the layout, just need to fine tune somethings.

    i was hoping i could somehow automatically have evox run the command
    Item "Play Xbox Live",ID_Chameleon_Release_D0,ID_Full_Reboot
    without having to click a button
    i hate evox, but it is the only way i can disable my mod chip. no i do not want to install a switch.

    any ideas?

    By Anonymous legal sin, at 11:27 PM  

  • Not really. I dont bother with xbox live, i dont play much games.

    My xbox is an xbmc, and thats really it.. some games here and there. but mainly my media center.

    By Blogger Jon, at 11:54 PM  

  • oh well, i'll deal with it. maybe one day i'll have the funds to buy a decent modchip. halo 2/pgr2 are the only games i play on live.

    By Anonymous legal sin, at 5:26 PM  

  • I didnt realize it was possible to use live on a modded machine. I thought they checked for more than just the chip. ie the HD size, other files on the HD. I'd love to play on live as Kai never has enough people on it, but I didnt think it was possible with a modded system???

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:13 AM  

  • Superb icons for TV shows can be found at http://chokemaniac.xbmc.org/viewtopic.php?t=353

    By Blogger Kujo, at 9:18 PM  

  • Thanks for this hint. This works fine for Internet TV bookmarks.
    Creating screen shoots from my own movies (privat movies from camcorder)they don't really fit with the bookmark icons. Screen shots are landscape, bookmark shape is portrait.
    Is there a way to re-define the bookmark shape ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:56 PM  

  • I live for XBMC, and after my PSU went out, there were two weeks while my Xbox was at Llamma's (http://llamma.com/xbox/) that I was watchig Top Gear downloads on my computer >ugh!<

    My question is this: say you IMDB something and it comes up with the wrong info? How you do you de-infoize a particular file? I know that I can change the .tbn file, but that doesn't help change the meta-info

    Also, Chokemaniac's TV icons have been moved here:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:59 PM  

  • You can get icons at MediaIcons.org for your XBMC. It really looks nice once you get them loaded. Just download and rename moviename.tbn for them to show up.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:58 AM  

  • i cant doit =S i rename all to folder.jpg and default.tbn but doesn't work for me :s i dont know how do that please help me

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:21 PM  

  • Another collection of icons/thumbs can be found here: http://xboxlib.bendayan.se Some of them are dupes from chokemania.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:45 PM  

  • Thanks for the tip. I've been adding custom thumbs to my TV shows and Movie folders but one thing I can't figure out is how to change the thumbnail for folders in the "Library" view. For example "genre, title, etc" are not folders on my hard-drive that I can find. Thanks for any help.

    By Blogger RayRopes, at 11:19 AM  

  • How do you change a thumbnail for a bookmark? I have one but now i want to change it

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:21 PM  

  • As Rayropes asked, I also can't figure out is how to change the thumbnail for folders in the "Library" view. For example "genre, title, etc" are not folders on my hard-drive that I can find.

    If anyone could post with how this is done, would be much appreciated.


    By Anonymous Cliffy, at 9:00 PM  

  • It's such a Blessing to hear that the gospel community has a world class gospel guitarist & Singer.
    He's becoming quite well known.
    His name is GW Williams,many people say he's ranked as one of the top 5 living guitar players in the world today.
    It's good to know that us Christians have people posted out there serving in Gods Army from all walks of life.
    Below is a link I found at his web site, I ask if I could post this around to help spread the news of His Gospel Music and GW said it was ok with him.

    Rock,Blues,Jazz Guitarist GW Williams

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:52 AM  

  • Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

    By Anonymous Custom Paper Writing, at 4:48 AM  

  • This article is very good & informative.I have gain so much information from this blog.I like your blog.Thanks for the post.I am waiting for your new post.
    Best writing service

    By Blogger Shaun Marsh, at 11:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home