XBMC v13.1 "Gotham" has been released! See Gotham FAQ for details.
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An impressive feature of XBMC is its ability to display custom thumbnails (also known as an "icon") on most items displayed. You can assign thumbnails to folders, programs, music, videos, bookmarks, and of course pictures. You can choose to let XBMC automatically download thumbnails for music-albums and video/movies from the internet or you can create your very own custom thumbnails. You can also download custom thumbnails that others have created.
When talking about movies the terms "Cover Art", "Posters" (term used on TheTVDB) and "Folder Image" are all used to refer to the same thing we are talking about here. In the XBMC world Thumbnail is the generic term that encompasses all of those things, so don't get confused.
1 Custom Thumbnails
You can easily create your very own user-defined thumbnails on your computer with image tools like Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Paint.NET or even Paint in Windows.
You can alternatively download thumbnails that others have created on the internet. Then you simply have to rename those thumbnails and transfer/copy them to the right location and XBMC will display them. Use JPG or PNG (with transparency) image-format, and size of the picture to anything from 128x128 to 256x256 in pixel size, (the larger the image is the better it will look on a good display but at the same time large thumbnails loads slower). On a non-HDTV displays a image that is approx 100x140 is recommended for video/movies thumbnails (which is the size that is most common on IMDb), and approx 75x75 for music-albums (which is the default size on allmusic.com). For 720p/1080i HDTV displays a size of approx 182x256 for video/movies thumbnails, and approx 200x200 for music-albums (such music-albums can be found on allmusic.com).
1.1 Thumbnail Cache
- see also: ThumbnailCache for a thorough description of the thumbnail cache
XBMC will cache all thumbnails to userdata\Thumbnails\ using the CRC of the path of the file or folder as a filename. That is the first location XBMC will generally look for a thumbnail for a given item.
In order for your custom thumbnail to show, you may have to delete the cached thumbnail.
If you are running XBMC on a very high resolution display and you have Movie cover art, for example, that is displayed as a very large image onscreen with the skin and layout that you are using, then you may want to adjust the <imageres> tag to increase the display quality of your thumbnails.
Be aware, however, that increasing the size of cached thumbnails obviously carries an implied disk space usage, and possible XBMC performance penalty, with it.
3 Thumbnails for individual items in a single directory
Name the icon file the same as the file you would like it to display for with a -poster.jpg or -poster.png extension ie: Transformers.avi, Transformers-poster.jpg. This is particularly useful for using custom thumbnails for movies.
Movies\path\moviename.avi Movies\path\moviename-poster.(jpg/png) Movies\path\moviename.jpg
4 Folder Thumbnails
If you store each of your media files in separate subfolders to keep things organized, you can also make the folder have a custom thumbnail image. To do this you either need to save your JPG/PNG thumbnail as folder.jpg and place it inside your movie/album folder, or you can save it as <foldername>deprecated and place it at the same level as the folder in the directory tree.
Now your media folder will have a lovely custom thumbnail-image.
5 Program Thumbnails
In order to display the image displayed for a game, emulator or application, simply rename the desired image default.jpg and place it in the folder where the corresponding default.XBE is located.
6 Music Thumbnails
Music Thumbnails are assigned as part of a multi-tier process. First, the Tag Reader runs and caches any embedded art using the album name and album artist (or song artist, if that is all that is available). If the album name or artist is unavailable, it is cached using the path name of the song. This assumes, of course, that you have tag reading enabled.
You can also use "Get Thumb" to download the album thumbnail from allmusic.com (AMG) for a specific album/folder or do a scan of all your music files in all shares.
Thumbnails also get downloaded when you rip AudioCD's to your XBMC device (which is described in the Ripping CDs section).
Recommended is that you store each of your music-albums or artists in a separate subfolder to keep things organized. You can also of course make the folder have a custom thumbnail image.
The code which assigns thumbnails to files runs and assigns thumbnails in the following order:
- 1) Cached Album Thumbnail
- This is all the embedded album art read by the tag reader and cached using the album name and album artist.
- 2) Cached filename.jpg
- This includes an embedded thumbnail cached with the fully qualified name.
- 3) Remote filename.jpg
- This is a filename.jpg on a remote share/folder which is then cached.
- 4) Cached folder.jpg
- This is a folder.jpg which is cached based off the folder path.
- 5) Remote folder.jpg
- This is a folder.jpg on a remote share/folder which is then cached.
- 6) Remote foldername.jpg
- This is a foldername.jpg on a remote share/folder which is then cached.
In this example audiofilename.mp3 will use audiofilename.jpg as thumbnail:
The same goes for playlists, cue-sheets, SHOUTcast, and internet-stream files, example:
Music\path\audioplaylistname.m3u Music\path\audioplaylistname.jpg Music\path\cuelistname.cue Music\path\cuelistname.mp3 Music\path\cuelistname.jpg Music\path\shoutcastlinkname.pls Music\path\shoutcastlinkname.jpg Music\path\audiostreamname.strm Music\path\audiostreamname.jpg
- Music fanart
7 Video Thumbnails
You can either use your own custom thumbnails or XBMC can retrieve video thumbnails from the internet via scrapers and cache them locally.
XBMC applies thumbnails to video files in the following order:
- 1) Cached Thumbnail
Thumbnails are cached to UserData\Thumbnails\Video using the CRC of the path of the file or folder.
- 2) User-Defined Thumbnail
XBMC looks for <filename>-poster.(jpg/png) in the folder containing the media files and uses that as the thumbnail. Note: <filename>.jpg will supersede <filename>-poster.(jpg/png) (result of Eden backward compatibility)
The thumbnail is cached the first time it is read.
XBMC checks inside the movie folder for the following files in this order:
For TV series specifically:
There is a special case with TV Series where, if you choose to use Banners as your primary thumbnails, you also need Posters in some areas of the UI depending on which skin you are using.
The Aeon Nox skin, which is extremely popular, has a very nice View mode called BannerPlex for example. If you are using that View as your TV Series View, your primary thumbnails for your TV series will be Banners BUT there are still places where you need to supply a Poster, like the "TV show information" screen that is accessible from the context menu for a Series. In that screen you need a Poster image for the big area on the left that takes up a third of the screen. By default the Banner thumbnail that XBMC imported will be stretched vertically to fill that area and it looks horrible.
As of Frodo, XBMC will import Banners and Posters.
Certain skins, like Aeon Nox, typically provide an option in the settings for the View itself that allows you to explicitly stipulate that a poster file should be used for those areas where a Poster type image is applicable.
In Aeon Nox, the setting is on the slide out menu on the left of the screen when you are viewing your series. If you have the BannerPlex view activated and you slide out that menu, then go to "Viewtype settings", then look under "GENERAL OPTIONS", you will find an option labelled "Use 'poster.jpg' for poster style viewtypes". If you turn that on, then any poster.jpg that you have in your folders when you import your media from disk will be used where a poster type image is appropriate.
7.1 Examples for User-Defined Video Thumbnails
- Single Video File
The following example "videofilename.avi" will now use the thumbnail "videofilename-poster.(jpg/png)".
Note that videofilename.jpg is old Eden terminology, but WILL supersede videofilename-poster.(jpg/png) which is the standard for Frodo and later versions of XBMC.
- Multi Part (Stacked) Video Files
This may not be Frodo terminology, but should still work You can either use the filename of the first file in the stack or the name of the stack, so for:
Either of the below would work:
- Movies in Folders
In the following example "videofilename.avi" will now use the thumbnail "poster.(jpg/png)".
Note that movie.jpg will supersede poster.jpg due to Eden backward compatibility
- TV Shows
TV\showfolder\poster.(jpg/png) or TV\showfolder\banner.jpg
- TV Show Season Thumbnails
As of Frodo, XBMC can use either posters OR banners as the Season thumbnail. In the following example, the thumbnail will be used for the appropriate season in the Video Library season node. Where xx is 01, 02 etc.
TV\showfolder\seasonxx-poster.(jpg/png) or TV\showfolder\seasonxx-banner.(jpg/png)
- TV Show Specials
TV\showfolder\season-specials-poster.(jpg/png) or TV\showfolder\season-specials-banner.(jpg/png)
- For the all seasons item
TV\showfolder\season-all-poster.(jpg/png) or TV\showfolder\season-all-banner.(jpg/png)
Movies in Folders:
TV Season All:
Movies\path\extrafanart\fanart1.jpg Movies\path\VIDEO_TS\extrafanart\fanart1.jpg *Special case if using DVD Video structure TV\showfolder\extrafanart\fanart1.jpg
The concept of extra fanart exists in XBMC for some skins whereby you can have more than one fanart image for a movie or TV show. If you have more than one fanart image any fanart image after the main one (fanart.jpg) must be named using sequential numbering.
e.g. fanart1.jpg, fanart2.jpg and so on.
Extra fanart must be put into a sub-folder of the movie or TV show folder called extrafanart.
For those skins that support extra fanart you must turn on the "Enable Extrafanart" option and then you will see the different fanart images display as a repeating slideshow with a 10 second delay between each image.
- Playlist and internet-stream file examples
Playlists\path\videoplaylistname.pls Playlists\path\videoplaylistname.jpg Streams\path\videostreamname.strm Streams\path\videostreamname.jpg
- Actor thumbnails
You can add actor thumbnails to any movie or TV show by adding an '.actors' folder in the corresponding movie / TV show / Episode directory. You may need to use the command line to create this directory in Windows.
The folder can then contain actor images using the following naming convention:
Videos\path\.actors\actor_name.jpg (spaces replaced with underscores) Movies\Movie1\.actors\actor_name.jpg (spaces replaced with underscores) Movies\Movie1\VIDEO_TS\.actors\actor_name.jpg (spaces replaced with underscores) *Special case if using DVD Video structure TV Shows\TV Show 1\.actors\actor_name.jpg (spaces replaced with underscores)
8 Picture Thumbnails
XBMC applies thumbnails to picture files in the following order:
- 1) Cached Thumbnail
- Thumbnails are cached to UserData\Thumbnails\Pictures using the CRC of the path of the file or folder.
- 2) Images
- EXIF thumbnail in JPEG images are then read. If no EXIF thumbnail is available, XBMC will load the image and generate a thumbnail from the image. These are then cached.
- 3) Folders
- <MyHolidayPictures>\folder.jpg is checked first. If that file doesn't exist, XBMC will generate a thumbnail from up to 4 random images inside that folder.
9 Thumbnails for Sources
You can change the thumbnail displayed for a source by editing UserData\sources.xml.
- Simply modify your source as shown
<source> <name>Music</name> <path>xbms://192.168.1.100:1400/Music/</path> <thumbnail>F:\Apps\XBMC\thumbs\shares\thumb.png</thumbnail> </source>
10 Auto switch to icon Mode
XBMC tries to automatically switch to Large Icon view when the View Mode is set to Auto in the Settings. It first checks if the skin has Large Icon view, failing that switches to Icon view. If neither is available it goes for List View.
The rules are as follows:
Auto switches to Icon view when 50% of all the items (files and folder) have thumbs.
Auto switches to Thumbs view when the list contains more than 25% files. (In the case of Pictures, all items have thumbs as they are generated upon entering the folder.)
Auto switches to Thumb view when 50% of all the items (files and folder) have thumbs.
Auto switches to Thumb view when the list contains at least 75% folders and at least 50% of them have thumbs. (Remember that playlist files like m3u, pls, etc, are treated as folders by default)