HOW-TO customize the home menu with custom categories
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“I am a big fan of Anime, how can I create a home menu item for it? I don’t like how it sits in the same list as my TV Shows”. “I have a lot of Disney movies for my kids. How can I make it so they appear in a different list than my regular movies?”.

Many have asked these questions and many others have answered. But to my knowledge no answer explained things, in detail, from A to Z. I too have looked around the forum on different occasions trying to find an easy answer. But it always seemed too much of a hassle and I quickly gave up. Though one time I persevered, and managed to set up my XBMC exactly the way I want it. And it’s surprisingly easy! You just need to know how.
I’ll do my best and try to explain clean and simple how I did things. There might be other ways, but this one has worked for me. In my setup I used XBMC Live with the Transparency skin, though i'll try to keep things as general as possible. Some stuff will be different however, depending on your OS and skin.

My wishes
What I wanted was to create a home menu with the following items:
  • Anime: For my many anime series. I’m a big fan, and didn’t like how these were showing in the TV Shows menu.
  • Anime Movies: Yes, a separate folder for the anime movies.
  • Comedy: Stand op comedy shows, etc… . “And another left turn!!!” anyone?
  • Documentaries: Wonders of the solar system, and the depths of the ocean!
  • Movies: My regular movies. Not anime movies!
  • Music: The standard music library.
  • Pictures: Also standard.
  • TV Shows: TV Shows like Top Gear and House. No Anime here!
  • Other: Ever seen Cirque Du Soleil perform? They are awesome.
Again, these are the steps I used. There are different ways.

I’ll mostly be talking about the Anime, Anime Movies, Movies and TV Shows folders. These are easy to understand and things might get complicated with the other stuff. For example documentaries could be both movies, or a 5 episode show.

1. Folder creation
Let’s start off by creating the proper folders for each category. This makes it easy later on to be able to select which media files you want to show in which menu.

I have files on the local drive of my player, but most of it is located on a media server. On both systems I created a folder for each category (Anime, Anime Movies, Comedy, Documentaries, Movies, Music, Pictures, TV Shows, Other). I made all folders on the local drive in a common directory “/share/”.

Secondly, we also need different folders to hold our background images for each categorie. A different set of backdrops (or wallpapers) for anime, anime movies, movies, tv shows, …). In the same “/share/” folder, I also created a folder called “backdrops”, and again, inside that folder I created a folder for each category.
In the end, on my HTPC I have the following folders:
  • /
    • share/
      • Anime/
      • Anime Movies/
      • backdrops/
        • Anime/
        • Anime Movies/
        • Comedy/
        • Documentaries/
        • Movies/
        • Music/
        • Pictures/
        • Other/
        • Settings/
        • TV Shows/
      • Comedy/
      • Documentaries/
      • Movies/
      • Music/
      • Pictures/
      • Other/
      • TV Shows/

2. Sources
After we created the folders, we must add them to our XBMC sources. Give all sources a meaningful name. For example, my local folders were named exactly as the source folder (Anime, Anime Movies, Movies, etc…), and for the server folders, I simply added “server “ in front of them (Server Anime, Server Anime Movies, etc…). Assign the proper media type and scraper to them.

Intermission 1
As it is now we actually have a basic setup and configuration of XBMC. In the default Movies menu, I now found both regular and anime movies. In the default TV Shows menu I had the regular series and my anime series. Time to change that!

3. Smart Playlists
Smart playlist are what makes most of the magic happen. A better name for them would be “Playlist Filters” as they are the ones who filter the list and show only what you want them to show.
These playlists can be created through the XBMC user interface but as the exact instructions depend on what skin you use I’ll be explaining how the create them using a text editor.

First you have to know where your XBMC userdata folder is located. The default folder when using XBMC Live would be “~/.xbmc/userdata/”. When choosing another version of XBMC, this might be different. Inside the userdata folder, there will be a folder called playlists, and inside that folder you should find 3 folders, being “mixed”, “music” and “videos”.
These are default folders where XBMC will be looking for playlists. You don’t HAVE to use these folders, but I did. Not using these will mean some paths in later steps will be different.

Inside the videos folder, I created 4 files: “Anime.xsp”, “Anime Movies.xsp”, “Movies.xsp”, “TV Shows.xsp”. “.xsp” is the default XBMC extention for smartlists. Then, using a simple file editor, I edited the files with the following:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes" ?>
<smartplaylist type="tvshows">
   <rule field="path" operator="startswith">/share/Anime/</rule>
    <rule field="path" operator="startswith">smb://MEDIASERVER/Anime/</rule>
    <order direction="ascending">tvshow</order>

Now, some explanation:
  • <?xml blablabla>: something you shouldn’t worry about. It’s default. Has to be there. Shouldn’t be changed.
  • <smartplaylist type="tvshows">: This will decide what kind of filter rules you can use. For example filtering on the amount of “episodes” won’t be possible for “movies”. For more information, look at the wiki.
  • <name>Anime</name>: a name for your smartplaylist. For easiness, use the same name as the custom menu you want.
  • <match>one</match>: this one could be “one” or “all”. As filters can have multiple “criteria” a media item could/should match, this will decide if it has to match just 1 of the criteria, or all of them. In this example it had to use “one”. So any media that is located in the folders “/share/Anime/” OR on the “Anime” folder on my server, will be displayed. If you’d want to show only the HD movies from a certain folder, you could use a rule for the path, and a rule for the resolution, and use “all” as matchtype. It’s not directly possible to combine the “one” and “all” match rule in a single smart playlist. So filtering for only HD movies which are in path A OR path B is not possible. (Well it is, but you have to use some special tricks, which is beyond the scope of this article).
  • <rule field="path" operator="startswith">/share/Anime/</rule>:
    These are the rules the media items should comply with. This filter basically only shows the media items that are located in those folders.
  • <order direction="ascending">tvshow</order>:
    In case you want to display the list in some special order, you can use this tag. “tvshow” is the for the name of the show. So basically I’m ordering my anime alphabetically.
Anime Movies.xsp
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes" ?>
<smartplaylist type="movies">
    <name>Anime Movies</name>
    <rule field="path" operator="startswith">/share/Anime Movies/</rule>
    <rule field="path" operator="startswith">smb://MEDIASERVER/Anime Movies/</rule>
    <order direction="ascending">title</order>

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes" ?>
<smartplaylist type="movies">
    <rule field="path" operator="startswith">/share/Movies/</rule>
    <rule field="path" operator="startswith">smb://MEDIASERVER/Movies/</rule>
    <order direction="ascending">title</order>
TV Shows.xsp
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes" ?>
<smartplaylist type="tvshows">
    <name>TV Shows</name>
    <rule field="path" operator="startswith">/share/Series/</rule>
    <rule field="path" operator="startswith">smb://MEDIASERVER/TV Shows/</rule>
    <order direction="ascending">tvshow</order>
Intermission 2
Yes, only 1 topic covered and back into an intermission. The thing is, until now things were pretty general. However, starting from now it will depend on what skin you are using. We made our smartlists but now we need ways of showing these in our home screen. The usual way is to create “Favorites” of these smartlists, and then add those favorites to the homescreen. This is something many skins support. But it’s a tedious job, and doesn’t allow for that much customization. For example in the Transparancy skin, you can only add 3 at most. And they appear at the end of the menu. So you can’t show the home menu items alphabetically or whatever order you want them in. Another thing that lacked was the support of submenus. In Transparancy you could add them, but not the ones I wanted.

The way I did it was to manually edit the skin files. It’s a bit more “advanced”, but you can make it exactly the way you want. The downside is if the skin gets updated, you might have to reapply all your changes again.

Messages In This Thread
HOW-TO customize the home menu with custom categories - by Myth - 2011-01-05, 21:42
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-01-05, 21:42
RE: - by Zachary.Murphy - 2019-07-19, 22:46
Thank You - by wicked_n_raw - 2011-01-07, 07:36
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-01-07, 11:29
[No subject] - by wicked_n_raw - 2011-01-07, 15:12
[No subject] - by Ja4220 - 2011-01-08, 00:05
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-01-08, 02:08
[No subject] - by sladinki007 - 2011-01-10, 11:20
[No subject] - by sladinki007 - 2011-01-10, 12:20
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-01-10, 19:59
[No subject] - by TheStretchedElf - 2011-01-12, 15:58
[No subject] - by e2zippo - 2011-01-13, 15:23
[No subject] - by wilson.joe - 2011-01-20, 12:40
[No subject] - by shalarim - 2011-01-21, 14:00
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-01-21, 20:46
[No subject] - by hammerhead69 - 2011-01-23, 20:54
[No subject] - by joeranjensen - 2011-01-25, 15:53
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-01-25, 19:43
[No subject] - by joeranjensen - 2011-01-25, 21:44
[No subject] - by Korath - 2011-01-26, 18:41
[No subject] - by TheStretchedElf - 2011-01-26, 21:24
[No subject] - by WhiteLighter - 2011-02-03, 09:25
[No subject] - by Herrjeh - 2011-02-12, 09:39
[No subject] - by coffras - 2011-02-20, 21:21
[No subject] - by TheStretchedElf - 2011-02-20, 23:38
[No subject] - by Wizard66 - 2011-02-21, 15:18
[No subject] - by gszx1337 - 2011-02-22, 05:34
[No subject] - by masteroc - 2011-03-10, 03:35
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-03-10, 16:49
[No subject] - by nfusion2011 - 2011-03-21, 18:43
[No subject] - by amducious - 2011-03-23, 13:45
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-03-28, 00:47
[No subject] - by Thermos - 2011-03-28, 18:38
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-03-29, 08:06
[No subject] - by kaczor47 - 2011-03-29, 13:01
[No subject] - by Thermos - 2011-03-30, 01:52
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-03-31, 18:12
[No subject] - by kaczor47 - 2011-04-02, 07:22
Submenus? - by Thermos - 2011-04-03, 07:24
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-04-05, 18:25
Submenu help... - by Talontd - 2011-04-18, 08:13
[No subject] - by Zyeox - 2011-04-18, 18:54
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-04-20, 19:34
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-04-20, 19:41
[No subject] - by barly - 2011-04-22, 18:18
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-04-24, 15:43
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-04-24, 15:45
[No subject] - by panda78 - 2011-05-01, 01:11
[No subject] - by Simple - 2011-05-01, 09:44
[No subject] - by panda78 - 2011-05-01, 13:25
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-05-01, 21:54
[No subject] - by Raphael Barros - 2011-05-03, 09:47
[No subject] - by Simple - 2011-05-03, 16:29
[No subject] - by Raphael Barros - 2011-05-04, 00:02
[No subject] - by ali2k1 - 2011-05-11, 14:44
[No subject] - by Parhelion - 2011-06-22, 05:01
[No subject] - by aoaaron - 2011-07-05, 13:29
[No subject] - by b-avc - 2011-07-05, 23:31
[No subject] - by Fuddster - 2011-07-09, 18:46
[No subject] - by Fizzer - 2011-08-09, 20:56
[No subject] - by Anasazi - 2011-08-26, 23:24
Sub-Menus for Confluence - by gmhhsv99 - 2011-08-28, 04:22
[No subject] - by Ryonez - 2011-09-01, 08:41
[No subject] - by Myth - 2011-09-02, 17:45
[No subject] - by Ryonez - 2011-09-03, 09:45
[No subject] - by GR00F - 2011-09-30, 12:24
[No subject] - by steve1977 - 2011-10-02, 04:51
files not showing up - by chemlab - 2012-02-27, 08:22
[No subject] - by Myth - 2012-02-28, 19:35
[No subject] - by chemlab - 2012-03-04, 08:30

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