The easiest way to create and modify a search within Media Center is with the Search Wizard. This dialog allows you to create a query using a graphical interface that makes it easy to define your search with pre-filled drop-down menus. A search in Media Center is composed of two essential types of items:
You can add rules and modifiers to your search using the Search Wizard, and remove them if needed by clicking on the X next to the row containing the item.
The Search Wizard is available in many places in Media Center, including:
- Inside the Search Box in Standard View
- Editing Smartlists
- Editing the Rules for File Display in a Media View
In most cases, Media Center applies the search to your entire Library. Rules are how you "limit" the results to only the particular files you'd like to see in the resulting list. For example, if you create a Smartlist without any Rules (and no limiting modifiers) then it will always result in displaying every single file in your Library (regardless of Media Type or any other characteristic). Some searches, such as the Search Box, apply the search only to the files already visible in the current View (taking any active filters in the View into account), and in these cases, the search rules further refine the results.
To add a new rule to your search:
- Click Add New Rule to add a rule that you define yourself, or
- Click Add Stock Rule to choose from a set of pre-defined example rules
Once you add a rule, you will have a new row for the Rule. The drop-down box on the left-hand side allows you to choose from all of the Library Fields you have available in Media Center. This will be the particular type of metadata that you will be searching for using this Rule.
Once selected, you will typically get two more drop-down boxes in the row. The center box is allows you to choose the comparison you want to make, such as:
- is (for equals exactly)
- is any (matches one of a list of possible options)
- is not (exclude this match from the results)
- contains (looks for matching text contained in the field)
- is greater than
- is less than
- is in the last X days, months, weeks, years
- is before
- is in the range
The center box is context sensitive and only shows choices that make sense for the type of Library Field you chose on the left.
Lastly, once you choose a comparison type, the box on the right allows you to choose what values to search for (or exclude). This box is also context sensitive, and conveniently, it filters the possible results using your actual Library data, and also filters out items that would already be excluded by previously added Rules.
Occasionally, when required, a fourth box will be added to allow you to pick timespans and other similar "types" for your entered value.
Once you've defined a few Rules that limit the results of your search to less-than the entire contents of your Library, you can use Modifiers to further limit, sort, order, or rearrange the results. Much like adding a Rule, to add a new Modifier you click the Add New Modifier button, which creates a new "row" in the dialog.
The drop-down on the left of the row allows you to choose the Modifier's type, such as:
- Limit time to (limit the playback duration to X days, hours, minutes, etc)
- Limit size to (limit the total storage size of the list to X MB, GB, TB, etc)
- Limit number to (limit the total count of files)
- Remove duplicates of (only allow one unique result from a particular Artist, Album, Genre, etc)
- Expand to full albums (include all of the tracks from the album for any tracks in the list)
- Sort By (sort the list using Media Center's sorting system)
- Shuffle (randomize the order)
Note that the Modifiers apply to the list exactly as it is received from the Rules (which will generally be pre-sorted), and are applied in order from top-to-bottom. So, you can do something like:
- Sort the list to a particular sort order
- Limit the list to the first X tracks in the list
- Then, finally, shuffle the results
There are a wide variety of Modifiers that can be used and combined to create powerful and flexible searches. For further information, refer to the Search Language article.
Using the Search Language
The Import/Export button in the Search Wizard opens a dialog that allows you to type the query for the search in using Media Center's Search Language. This allows you to easily copy and paste text into the box to allow you to quickly import searches from other users or locations. You can also save and load the rules from text files.
When you enter a search using the Import/Export button and then return to the Search Wizard, it will update itself to reflect the new search, and then you can use the Wizard to modify it further if necessary.
For more details, and some handy examples, see:
- Rules and Modifiers are evaluated from top to bottom in the list.
- If needed, you can further refine the search manually by clicking the Import/Export button and using Media Center's Search Language. The Import/Export dialog will load with the current contents of the Wizard translated into the Search Language. And, when you close the Import/Export dialog, it will again convert the results into the Search Wizard.
- Remember, if you do not exclude a particular result with a Rule or Modifier, then all files in your Library will end up in the resulting list.
- Try adding Rules first, and then look at the results. Only after you have a good "working set" of files should you add the Modifiers. This ensures you understand what the total set of possible results will be before you limit or shuffle them.