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Media Center stores all of the information about the files you've Imported, the structure and design of your Media Views, and other information in its own internal database called a library.

This concept is distinct from the locations where you store your actual media files on disk, or the media files themselves. Throughout this Wiki, and on the Interact forum, when you see a reference to your library, we are usually referring to this database, and not to your source files.

The library is used to store things like:

Media Center can have multiple, independent Libraries, and you can also connect to remote Libraries served by other copies of Media Center on your network. However, note that MC cannot have more than one library loaded at a time, and must load a library in order to launch.

Library Manager

You can use the Library Manager to configure your Media Center Libraries and set options.

The Library Manager allows you to configure multiple, independent Libraries, and switch between them. Please note, however, that you can only have one Library loaded in Media Center at a time. For this reason, it is cumbersome to switch between Libraries for different types of files that you may want to use all at once. For tasks like sharing different sets of files among different users, or segregating types or genres of media (classical music from rock and roll, for example), we recommend that you also consider implementing Users or creating your own customized Media Views instead.

From within the Library Manager, you can perform tasks like:

  • backing up the current library
  • adding additional libraries
  • cloning an existing library
  • finding out where the current library is stored on disk
  • connecting to remote Library Servers that are running MC's Media Network
  • export the library metadata details to XML for interchange purposes

Refer to the Library Manager page for further details.

Showing the default Library setup in a Windows copy of MC19.

Location on Disk

By default, the library is stored on your disk in your User Profile's Application Data directory.

  • OSX: /Users/<user name>/Library/Application Support/J River/Media Center <version>/Library/
  • Windows 2000, XP, and 2003: C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\J River\Media Center <version>\Library
  • Windows Vista and later: C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\J River\Media Center <version>\Library

Media Center uses the Library files for all operations, and to drive all metadata searches and behavior in the application. For this reason, the performance of the disk where the Library (or Libraries) is critical. The library files are not large, and should be stored on your fastest, internal disk in the computer (an SSD if possible). Please refer to the Troubleshooting Network and Slow Storage guide for additional details.

Compatibility and Versions

Media Center's library files are specific to the major version you are using and are not backwards compatible. So, for example, a library created by MC29 cannot be used by a copy of MC28. If you manually load a library formatted for an older version of Media Center with a newer version, the library will be upgraded during the process and will no longer be compatible with the older version. If you think you might need to switch back to your old version, please make a backup of the Library using the prior version of Media Center before continuing.

Please Note: You can restore a Library Backup from one major version to the next, including all user Settings. For more information on restoring from backup, please refer to the Library Manager page.

Also, Media Center's library files are currently OS-specific, meaning that the Windows version of MC cannot load the Library from a Mac copy, and the reverse. However, MC's Media Network functionality is cross-platform compatible. So, you are able to load a network library served by a copy of MC running on a different OS, just not directly. This limitation is primarily due to the different filesystems and path structures between the different OSes.

Adding Media To Your Library

The process of adding media to your Library is called Importing, and is generally the first thing you'll do with a new copy of Media Center. Importing is simply the process of telling Media Center about the files, and adding them to this database. Importing is non-destructive to your files, and can even automate the often-tedious process of tagging your files so that they can be easily browsed.

Features and Capabilities

This section will cover some of the features and capabilities provided by, or specific to, your Media Center Library.

Organization Flexibility

In most programs, you can organize your media using various standard fields including artist, album, genre, and comment. Media Center goes beyond this. You can create your own database fields, some of which can be saved in the media itself. Do you need a field for composer? Orchestra leader? Photographer? No problem.

Media Modes and View Schemes

The entire collection of media files you are managing is readily available in the organization tree. With the Media Modes buttons, you can narrow the display to Audio, Images or Video. Furthermore, these Media Modes display only relevant View Schemes. This simplifies navigation of large libraries.

The program comes with default View Schemes, enabled when you select Audio, Video or Images in the tree. Selecting Images, for example, displays the default Images View Schemes (Year, Month, Day) as well as other View Schemes in the expanded tree (including "People/Places/Events").

All these View Schemes are customizable. You can change the defaults, remove them, and/or create your own.

Playlists and Smartlists

Media Center offers you even more flexibility with Playlists and Smartlists. With these tools, you can organize your files according to the features you select.

Playlists are manually ordered lists, and are used when you want to preserve the order of tracks. For example, you may create a playlist for "Top 40 1971" in which you arrange the tracks in a particular order. You may also want to create a compilation playlist of your favorite tracks, in order of preference. You can also create a playlist with your favorite Radio Stations, so that they are easily accessible at all times.

Smartlists are a special kind of Playlist that store rules instead of lists of files. There are hundreds of rule combinations you can use to create your Smartlists. A Smartlist is essentially a saved search, so it always takes into account any changes you may have made to your files, and order is determined on the fly.

The program comes with dozens of pre-made Smartlists. To enable them, right-click on Playlists and select "Create Stock Smartlists".

  • 4 or 5 Stars
  • 100 Random Songs
  • Imported This Month
  • Missing Cover Art
  • Not Recently Played
  • Small Images and Videos

There are many more stock smartlists accessible when you create a smartlist and select the arrow next to the Smartlist Rule field. You can create your own Smartlists as well, using rules to include or exclude any database field, including your own custom fields.

Rating and Other Fields

Media Center has a five star rating system, so that you can easily rate your tracks, pictures, or movies. It also has fields for replay gain, BMPs, intensity, width and length (good for images), and many more. If you can't find what you want, create as many custom fields as you need. And of course, you can easily edit database fields and ID3 v1 and v2 tags.

Flexible Media Views and Searching

And that's not all. Not only can you categorize your files the way you want, but you can choose how you view them. With the Media Mode buttons, you can select to view only relevant files and View Schemes. You can create as many Media Views as you want. For example, with a Genre/Year View Scheme in Audio Mode, you can view your entire music database by genre, and then by year. You can also create View Schemes using custom database fields. For example, you can create a custom field called "Nationality", and then you can create a View Scheme that includes that field. In this way, viewing all of your "Scottish" files is just a couple of clicks away.

You can view up to three different panes at once, using the Split View feature (in the View menu). The panes can be a combination of Playing Now, Media Views, Playlists, or anything else in the tree.