With Boxee now available for Windows, nearly any computer can push streaming and downloaded content onto a TV. Here are five tips and tricks that add content and convenience to the social media center, for newcomers and veteran users alike.
You come across cute, funny, and genius videos and songs all the time, but you’re probably at your desktop rather than in your media room. These two clever apps utilize the open nature of Boxee, RSS, and drop.io‘s file service to provide a passageway between ‘That’s awesome!’ and your Boxee setup. Boxqueue’s bookmarklet can be clicked while viewing any compatible media file, and dropBoxee just views the video, music, or pictures you or anyone else has uploaded to a ‘drop.’ That saves you the trouble of manually transferring files to your Boxee sources, and makes it easy to, say, grab pictures from an in-law’s computer for a slideshow you’re prepping for later (true story!) (Note: Yes, that’s a double entry in the screenshot, but that’s more human impatience than Boxee error).
Add more repositories
Just as with a Linux distribution, Boxee only grabs new apps and updates from a single repository by default, but it can be expanded to grab plug-ins and apps from anybody’s servers. One of the neatest we’ve seen are from the folks at BoxeeHQ, which offers video from PBS, GameTrailers, ‘unofficial’ video streams from the This Week in Tech network, and a few more. Jake Marsh’s feed offers TV Library, a, well, work-around app that grabs videos from all sorts of sources around the web, even if, say, a certain NBC/Fox/ABC-sponsored video site is suddenly acting all protective. Those feeds are
dir.thejakemarsh.com, respectively, and you add them from the ‘Add Repositories’ link on the App Box screen.
Feed your Boxee with RSS
One of the easiest Boxee features to overlook is its RSS capabilities—mainly because you manage it from your Boxee.tv account, rather than inside the app. Sign up for an account at Boxee’s site, then hit the ‘My RSS’ link. From the entry box, you can paste in video, music, or even BitTorrent RSS feeds from favorite YouTube channels, blogs or Twitter feeds that often embed or link great content, or other providers of great content. Head to Video, select the ‘My Feeds’ app, and you’ll see your feeds listed and ready for playing—at least in most cases. Not all RSS feeds are compatible with Boxee, but a good number of the ones you can find on video sites probably are.
Get better media recognition with TvRename
From Boxee’s ‘Local Media’ menu, you can add any folder and all its sub-folders and files as a source of movies, TV shows, music, or pictures. Once you do, there’s a good chance Boxee can comb through IMDB and the TheTVDB and auto-magically organize your files into thumbnailed show/season/episode collections, complete with episode descriptions. You can help it along, however, by naming your movie files the way IMDB names the movie (as in,
Lord.of.the.Rings.Return.of.the.King.avi instead of
LOTR3.avi), or one of three conventions for TV episodes (
Mad.Men.205.mpg would all fly).
Got waaaay too many files to be mucking around with manual renaming? Try an auto-renaming app like TVRename, which uses the same TVDB backend to give your files more traditional naming conventions and sync them better with Boxee. It definitely beats manually browsing through your files and trying to remember just which episode you left off on.
Background RSS machine
If you’re running Boxee off a modified Apple TV or another dedicated home theater computer, you can take a load off your regular systems by having Boxee download torrents while it’s running. You can manually drop
.torrent files in your file system, as explained in our ATV guide, or simply add a BitTorrent RSS feed to your Boxee feeds from the boxee.tv site.