One of the most important steps in setting up Kodi is creating your media library. Let’s start by adding videos to your library. If you haven’t ripped your movie collection to your hard drive, you’ll need to do that first. Check out my tutorial on DVD and Blu-ray ripping with MakeMKV.
Before you start just adding every file on your hard drive, there’s some work you need to do first.
Kodi expects the media files to follow a certain format, and that format is different if the file is a movie or a TV show. If the filename isn’t listed correctly, then Kodi may not be able to tell what it is.
Why does that matter? Well, Kodi uses a process called scraping to pull data from the file. If Kodi isn’t able to scrape correctly the file then it may do one of two things: It may ignore the file and skip over it when creating your library, or worse, it could mistake the file for a completely different movie.
You should probably put some thought into how your library is organized, but that is a longer topic than I have room for here. But if you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll make it easier for Kodi to figure out what’s in your library.
How to organize your media library
There are two common ways to organize your media folder:
- One folder containing all of your media files
- Each movie or TV series in it’s own folder
It’s your choice how you want to organize your media library. There are pros and cons to each method, and that’s a topic for another article. But I will offer this piece of advice. If you have a larger library, it will be easier to manage if each movie is in it’s own separate directory.
How to name Movies
If you choose to use subfolders, movie folder names should include only the title and\or the year. Tip: To improve the scraper’s performance, add the year within parenthesis to the end of the foldername, or filename.
\Movies\The Usual Suspects (1995)\somefilename.avi
How to name TV Shows
If you’d prefer to have one folder for all of your media files, you would include the same information in the same order, but you would change the filename, rather than the folder name.
\TV Shows\House (2004)\Season 1\House.S01E01 – Everybody Lies.mkv
\TV Shows\12 Monkeys\Season 1\S01E01 Splinter.avi
How to add videos to your library
Just in case you’ve skipped to this section and plan on ignoring the Adding Music or Adding Pictures sections, you’ll see much of the same information repeated. It’s worth reading each topic, though, because there will be some specific information for each section that won’t be included in the other two.
Start by scrolling over to Videos on the Kodi ribbon. Once you’re there, click on Files. If you don’t have anything in your library, it will take you directly to the screen below. If you already have some files set up, there’ll be a list of folder shares in an intermediate menu before this with an option to Add Videos. Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense right now. You’ll see folder shares in a few minutes.
If you know the path of your media server, you can take a shortcut and enter it directly in the box here. I’m going to assume that you don’t have that memorized, or even written down someplace safe. In that case, you’ll need to Browse for it.
Depending on how your media server is set up you’ll have a couple of different options here.
Kodi doesn’t care if you’ve got your media files on your Windows PC that you’re networking to, a dedicated Network Accessible Storage (NAS) device, or simply an external hard drive that has one folder with hundreds of movies on it. Kodi will figure it out.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you’ve already set up your server how you like it. The most popular option for home servers is some sort of Windows Network (SMB), so that will be the one we discuss here.
Once I told Kodi that my media server was on a Windows Network, it went out searching for devices and came back with three possibilities.
My network devices are named after characters, places or things in movies. In this case, they’re characters from Big Hero 6. No judging, please.
The first device is my Windows 10 PC. The device in the middle is a shared printer. The third device is my Western Digital MyCloud NAS. That is where my media files are stored, so I’ll select that.
My NAS file server is set up in different folders. As you can see, some are media files and some are documents. Since we’re adding videos to Kodi, I’ll select the Videos sub-folder.
As you’re navigating through your folders, Kodi will keep updating the file path at the bottom of the screen. Here, you can see we are in the /Videos/Video Samples folder.
The way my files are set up, this is as far down into the file structure as I want to go. Each sub-folder underneath here is a different video title. As you’ll see later, there are multiple versions of the videos in each folder, so there will be some duplication.
A good rule of thumb is to go as deep into your folder structure as you can, but not too far that you lose videos. Remember, Kodi can see in the current folder and any sub-folders below. It won’t look in the folders higher than whatever folder you’re in.
Once you’ve decided on your folder, click OK.
That will take you back to the Add Video Source window and add the file path to your media server in the box.
By default, Kodi will choose the folder name as the name for the share, but you can change the name of the share in the Enter a Name for the Media Source box.
Once you’ve chosen the folder, the next step is to tell Kodi what type of files are in the folder and to set some options for the Scraper.
This window is split into three parts. In the upper-left section, there’s a dropdown box titled This directory contains. The options here are:
- Music Videos
- TV Shows
Once you make a selection, you’ll have one or more options in the Choose a scraper section in the upper-right.
In this example, I’m adding a folder of movies so I’ve selected that from the drop-down box. Because of that choice, there are some Content Scanning Options in the bottom half of the window.
Remember when you set up your media library in the How to Name Movies section? Here’s where that choice is going to come into play.
Under the Content Scanning Options header, the first option is whether or not Movies are in a separate folder that match the movie title. If your files are all in the same folder, leave this unchecked. If instead you have your movies in separate folders, make sure this option is checked.
The second option to Scan recursively is one I always check. This will force Kodi to look in any sub-folders for new files.
Depending on what scraper you use, there may be additional options listed under the Settings button at the bottom. These options determine whether or not Kodi will keep the original title, enable Fanart, trailers, or where to get ratings from. Click OK when you’ve made any changes.
The final step is for Kodi to start scanning your new folder share and adding the videos to the library. Once you’ve clicked OK in the step above, you’ll get a message box asking if you want to refresh the information for all items within this path.
The message box here it the same if you’re making changes or if you’re setting up the folder for the first time. This is one aspect where Kodi isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be. However confusing the message box may be, you’ll usually want to answer Yes to this question.
Thankfully, Kodi will let you move on to do other things while the scanning process does it’s thing. The only status bar you’ll see is in the very upper right hand portion of the screen. Be warned: if you’ve got a rather large library, this process could take a long time. But, once it’s done….
Your individual titles will have a full-color background image, a poster-art and some basic information such as resolution for each video, depending on what options you’ve chosen and what skin you’re using.
And back on the main Kodi home window, you’ll see thumbnail views of the last five movies you’ve added to your library above the center menu ribbon. In theory, if you’re consistently adding videos to your library, these will be the files that you’ll want to watch first.
There are a lot more tweaks and settings to help you get the most out of your videos, but let’s look at adding some music to Kodi next.