Customize XBMC With These Five Awesome Skins

Customize XBMC With These Five Awesome Skins

Windows/Mac/Linux/Xbox: What could make the already awesome Xbox Media centre even better? An infusion of eye candy, of course. Read on to see some awesome XBMC skins and learn how to install them.

What is this media centre magic we speak of? Originally an open-source package designed to run on modified Microsoft Xboxes and turn them into full-fledged media centres, XBMC gained such a popular following that it has been ported to Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you’re new to XBMC, you’re in luck. Lifehacker has much love for XBMC, and we’ve written guides to help you install it on a classic Xbox, install it on your Mac, run it from a thumb drive, and covered the first completely cross-platform release XBMC Atlantis.

Installing skins is about as straightforward as customising software can be. Depending on which operating system you’re using XBMC on, you’ll need to extract the contents of the archive you’ve downloaded into one of the following directories:

  • Windows: C:Program FilesXBMCskin
  • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/XBMC/skin
  • Linux: ~/.xbmc/skin/

You’ll most likely never come across a skin that doesn’t have the directory structure already carefully mapped out, all of the skins below can simply be extracted into the skin folder and all the necessary components will be neatly placed in skinSomeFancySkin automatically.

Once you’ve extracted the skins, switching from the default is as easy as navigating in the XBMC menu to System -> Appearance, and selecting your new skin.

Different installation packages and releases for different operating systems have different skins included. Some of the following skins may be bundled with the installation you downloaded, MediaStream comes with XBMC Atlantis for example. Check your /skins/ directory before downloading, you may luck out and already have the skin. Note: Each of the following skins was downloaded and tested on both a classic Xbox and HTPC running Windows XP with a 1080p display, with stunning results. The screenshots below—except some for the Focus skin—are from the respective websites of each design team, their media collections were far more varied and interesting than this humble tester’s.


hundreds of HD background images




Xbox Classic


The screenshots here can’t even begin to do justice to the stunning work these design teams have done. Most of the skins are fairly small, 50-100MB in size, it’s more than worth it to download them all and see which one looks the best on your setup. Between the hard work of the XBMC design team and the teams behind these skins, the experience is so seamless and enjoyable you’ll be amazed you didn’t pay hundreds of dollars for the pleasure.

Love a skin that isn’t featured here? Have a cool hack for XBMC you’re dying to share? Sound off in the comments below and help your fellow readers get more out of their media centres.

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