View Schemes provide a way to view your library based on customized fields that you select. You can define your own "View Scheme", which essentially a list of prioritized groupings (or filters) of your library. You can create Schemes by combining any of the default groupings (including artist, album, genre, year, bitrate and type), as well as user-defined Playlist Groups or search terms in any order that suits you.
Think of a View Scheme as a special type of "window" into your media, or like a special kind of folder. While the View Scheme doesn't "contain" the files, like a folder would, it filters and shows them to you in special ways. Each View Scheme allows you to look at your media in a different way, such as: sorted differently, filtered differently, with different "panes" or "tiles" (allowing different on-the-fly filtering), or with different "view methods" (thumbnails, tiles, groupings, details, etc).
You can use View Schemes to view your media files in almost any way you can imagine. For example, all of these Views would be simple to set up by creating a custom View Scheme:
- Show all my audio files in Details Mode. Sort them by Decade, then by year, and then by Rating, and allow me to filter them using Genre, Artist, and Album "panes".
- Show all my image files in Thumbnail mode. Sort by People and then Year, and allow me to filter them using a Calendar "Tile" system first showing the Year, then the Month, and then the individual Days.
- Show all my video files in Thumbnail Mode. Allow me to browse them using Tiles by Media Sub-Type and then by Genre.
- Show only my television show Video files (as opposed to my Movies or Home Videos) in Thumbnail Mode. Allow me to browse them using Tiles by Series, then by Season. Show the individual files below the tiles at all times sorted by Date with the oldest ones first.
- Show only my Audiobook Audio files in Details Mode. Allow me to browse them using Panes (and the Tree) by Author and then Album. Sort them by Track number and then by Name.
- Show me only my audio files that have a Rating of 4 or 5, sort them by Decade, and then by year. Show Panes that allow me to filter them by Genre, Artist, Album, and Keyword.
Media Center comes with a good compliment of default View Schemes to get you started. We will start by exploring how to use these default schemes, and then move on to creating and customizing your own View Schemes.
Top Level View Schemes
The three main "top" level View Schemes in Media Center are called: Audio, Images, and Video. These three View Schemes are configured just like any other view scheme, but they do have a special place locked at the top of the Media Center Tree View. Even though these View Schemes have this special place, they work just like any other View Scheme and can be edited and customized to show exactly what you want. While it is not specifically locked to the top like the Audio, Images, and Video view schemes, if you have files in your library of the Document type (basically non-media files and files MC doesn't recognize or can't play), you will have a fourth top-level View Scheme called Documents. You can also create your own top-level view schemes!
These top-level view schemes act and work just like any other View Scheme in Media Center. The only thing "special" about them (other than their position in the tree) is that they include filters that hide all of the media types except for the ones that they are designed to show. For example, by default the Media Center top-level Audio View Scheme does the following:
- It shows all of your Audio files. It does not show any images, video, or document file types.
- It displays three filtering Panes: Genre, Album Artist (auto), and Album.
- It sorts the files in this order: [Album Artist (auto)],[Album],[Disc #],[Track #],[Name]
Please Note: When discussing the different "tags" used by Media Center in a View Scheme (or throughout the program), you will often see them written in "Bracket Notation", such as [Artist]. This simply tells Media Center to use the contents of the Artist tag for the various files here. When they are written in a list, such as the sort order shown above, it means to first use the one listed first, then the second item, then the third, and so on.
If you wanted, though, you could change the top level Audio View Scheme to also show Video files! This wouldn't really make very much sense, but it could be done!
Child View Schemes
You can expand a View Scheme in the Tree View by clicking on the disclosure triangle next to it (to drop it down) or by single clicking on the View Scheme's name once you have it selected (double clicking on the View Scheme will play its contents). The image below shows the default Media Center Audio View Scheme expanded, which reveals additional "child" View Schemes.
As you can see, underneath the top-level Audio View Scheme, you have some other choices: Artist/Album, Disk Location, File Type, Play Stats, and Web Media.
Each of these items shown underneath of Audio are "children" of the Audio top-level View Scheme. Except for Web Media (which is a special case), they are also View Schemes themselves! As you can see, View Schemes can also act like "folders" for other View Schemes. When you do this, you are typically further filtering the view in the "parent" view scheme in order to show the same files in a different way, or to show a smaller sub-set of those files.
Similarly, if you expand the top-level Images or Video View Schemes, they each have a handful of pre-defined child Schemes which display your media in different ways. If you haven't played around with these at all, take a minute to explore them and look at the way they change your "window" on your media files.
You can arrange these "child" view schemes into any hierarchy you want. The child View Schemes can have children of their own, and so on and so forth. As you can see, it can quickly get pretty wacky if you let it get out of control!
As mentioned, the two most common reasons to add additional child view schemes are:
- You want to view the same set of Media Files in a different and unique way.
- You want to narrow the view to a subset of the Media Files included in the parent View Scheme.
View Scheme View Settings
- further information: Customize Current View
The way each View Scheme "looks" works largely independently of the other View Schemes in the system. This way, you can easily customize the way each one looks without affecting the look and feel of the others. For example, if you switch to the Artist/Album View Scheme underneath the top-level Audio View Scheme, you can switch that particular View Scheme to Thumbnail View by simply going to the View menu --> View Settings --> Thumbnails (there are other ways too).
This will change the view of the individual files in the View Scheme to Thumbnails. However, if you switch back to the top-level Audio View Scheme you will see it go back to Details View. Then, if you go back to the Artist/Album View Scheme, it will remember that you last left it on Thumbnails mode and show it that way. Customizing the view in each View Scheme is just that simple! Set it, and it remembers it from then on individually! If you don't like it, just switch it back.
Any settings you select under Customize Current View will be automatically remembered for each individual View Scheme. However, these changes will also apply to the child View Schemes of a particular View Scheme, unless you set that particular child's Customize Current View settings individually. In other words, child View Schemes inherit their Customize Current View settings from their parent View Scheme, unless they have been separately individually configured.
To see this in action, select the top-level Audio View Scheme and enter Customize Current View (right-click in the top bar area above the Pane and choose Customize Current View, or go to View --> View Settings --> Customize Current View).
In the Customize Current View dialog that appears, modify the Columns to Show in some way (add a few extra fields for example). Then click OK to close the dialog. Then, switch around to all of the Audio View Scheme's "children" and note that these changes are reflected in all of the children View Schemes automatically.
Then select the File Type child View Scheme and go back into its Customize Current View dialog. Make some obvious change to this View Scheme, such as moving the [File Type] tag to the very top of the Column Order. Click OK to close the dialog and you will see that this change is only reflected in that particular View Scheme. All of the others (Audio, Artist/Album, Disk Location, etc) retain their original Column Order. If the File Type View Scheme had any "children" of it's own (it doesn't by default), they too would now have the File Type tag listed as the first column unless you manually went in to them and changed them individually.
Using this method of "overridable" automatic inheritance, you can easily customize every view scheme to look exactly how you want! However, if you aren't careful, you can quickly get into a situation where each child View Scheme has been individually customized and none of them are how you want. To easily reset the views back to look like a parent View Scheme, you can use the View Layout menu. Simply set the parent View Scheme how you'd like it, then right click in the header of the left side of the View Scheme (or on one of the headers in the Columns in Details View and choose View Layout --> Apply This Layout To Child Views.
View Layouts are a simple way to save "presets" of your commonly used Views and share them among different View Schemes. Be aware however, applying a View Layout sets more than just the columns of that particular view. It does everything needed to make the View Scheme look just like the layout being applied in every way (so Columns to Show, Sorting, Thumbnail vs. Details, Panes vs. Tiles, and all other View Settings are affected). Please be sure to read the View Layout page and the Customize Current View pages for further details on setting your Views up just the way you want.
View Items, Panes, and Populate Tree
One of the main purposes for using and creating different View Schemes is to allow you to browse your media in different ways. The primary method you can use to browse (and filter) which files are shown in a particular View Scheme is using the Panes. You may recognize this browsing method from many other popular media player applications, though your abilities to customize these panes in Media Center is unparalleled. Media Center also provides a number of other ways to browse your media, including showing these same pane selections under the Tree-View, and a very visual "Tile Mode".
Using the Panes to Browse Media
The panes can be found in any view scheme above the file listing (or file thumbnails). If you can't see these in your current view, you may have "minimized" them. You can re-expand them by clicking on the small "down-arrows" on the divider bar just under the View Header that says "Pane".
The image above shows the default top-level Audio View Scheme's panes. This View Scheme includes three panes: [Genre], [Album Artist (auto)], and [Album]. These panes allow you to "narrow-down" the items that will show up in the view by simply scrolling through each list and choosing an item (or items) that you'd like to see. The each of these "types" of panes ([Genre] vs. [Artist] vs. [File Type]) are called View Items. You can add new View Items to a View Scheme by customizing the View Scheme (in Step 1 of the Edit View Scheme dialog among other methods).
The items shown in each pane will change depending on the selections made in the "previous" panes (those to the left), and the list of files below the panes will update to filter out everything except for the items which match the selections made in the pane. So, for example, if you select a genre (such as Psychedelic Rock) in the [Genre] Pane on the left, the [Album Artist (auto)] pane and the subsequent [Album] pane will update to show only those Artists which have at least one visible song that is tagged as Psychedelic Rock. This action, selecting a pane (which filters the next pane) and then selecting another pane to the right (which further filters the view) and so on, is often referred to as "drilling down into a view" by people on the forums.
Remember, you can always also further filter any particular view by typing a manual search into the Search Bar. This search will first filter the results based on the active Pane selections, and then apply the search (in other words, the filters are cumulative). So, if the file you are searching for using the Search Bar has already been filtered out using the Panes, it will not show up in the file listing area unless you reset the panes.
By default, panes only filter the other panes located to their right. This means if you were to select All in the [Genre] pane, but then choose Allman Brothers Band in the [Album Artist (auto)] pane (the middle pane), the [Genre] pane will continue to show all possible Genres even though (in this example) all of the Allman Brothers Band songs are tagged as Psychedelic Rock. The [Genre] pane does not filter because it is found to the left of the selected pane. This behavior is optional. Please refer to Customizing View Schemes for further information.
Each pane will always contain a special item called All which will reset that particular pane back to show all available files. If you wish to reset the entire View Scheme back to it's default with no panes selected, you can click the Reset Selection link that appears when you have at least one item in a pane selected.
Remember, below the Panes there will always be a list of files (either in Thumbnail View, Thumbnail Album View, or Details View) which is filtered based on the rules defined in the View Scheme itself, the Panes currently selected, and by any search manually typed into the search bar.
Using the Tree to Browse Media
Sometimes it is more convenient to "drill down" into your media via the Tree View rather than the Panes. This can be handy for a number of reasons, but particularly if you have a very large number of individual items that will show under a particular tag Pane. Media Center allows any View Scheme to "Populate the Tree" with items which match those that would normally be shown in the Panes. This option is selected by default for all of the default Child View Schemes provided with Media Center. The top-level View Schemes do not have this option selected.
If you click on the disclosure triangle next to the Artist/Album View Scheme (under Audio) you will see an example of this. Underneath the View Scheme, instead of more child View Schemes, you will see a listing of all of the Artists you have in your Library (each with their own disclosure triangle). Selecting one of these items in the tree will filter the File Listing on the right to reveal only those files matching that particular selection, just like choosing the same item in a Pane would. It also "expands" the item to show children corresponding to the contents of the next "pane".
Notice that once you select a View Item in the tree, you no longer have access to the Panes browsing method. To get it back you must scroll back up in the tree and re-select the "parent" View Scheme. The Pane and Tree browsing methods cannot be combined.
One very convenient feature of using the View Items populated in the tree is for drag-and-drop operations. These items in the tree can be drag-dropped to many other places in the Media Center UI in order to quickly accomplish all sorts of tasks. For example, if you were to drag-drop an entire Artist from the tree and drop it onto the Playing Now tree item, it would play all of the files for that Artist. You could also use this method to add entire albums (or entire Genres if you wanted) to Playlists or to a CD Burning task.
Another common use for drag-dropping these tree View Items is for tagging. You can drag and drop files (or groups of files) onto these View Items in the tress, and it will "tag" that file with that property (and will also apply any "parent" properties at the same time). This can be a very quick way to "batch tag" large numbers of files. For example, suppose that you have a custom View Scheme which shows thee View Items in the Panes and in the Tree: [Genre], [Artist], [Album]. If you have some new files that you need to add to an existing album that you already have a few tracks of in your library, you could simply drill down in the tree to find that album, select the untagged files, and drag-drop the files onto the Album showing in the tree. This would automatically tag not just the Album name, but would also add the Artist and Genre tags all in one operation!
So, simply find the proper album in your Genre/Artist/Album View Scheme. Then drag-and-drop the new files over and drop them onto the Album item in the tree.
Media Center will show a confirmation dialog box to make sure you want to do this, and showing which tags will be changed. Click OK to continue.
As you can see from the above example, all the appropriate tags (Genre, Artist, and Album in this case) were set automatically. This can be a very effective way to quickly tag large numbers of files with similar tags (and can help you make sure you keep your tags consistent). One caveat is that in order for an item to show up in the tree, you will need to have at least one file already tagged with the relevant fields (or else there will be no Tree item for you to drop the files on).
Work in progress....
You can also use smartlists when setting up a View Scheme to narrow your scheme even more. Here are the same examples as above, but with additional smartlist information.
- Show all my audio files, sort them by Decade, and then by year. Don't sort by rating. Instead, just show me only those files that have a Rating of 4 or 5.
- Show all my image files, and sort by People and then Year. Don't display files that have too high a resolution, because I will be selecting some of these files and uploading them to an ftp server using Tools > Send To > Email/Web.
- Show all my video files, and sort by file type, then folder name, but exclude the folders on my M: drive and exclude the files that include "Amsterdam" in the filename.
A View Scheme Group is a folder that contains View Schemes. The Media Mode buttons are View Scheme Groups: the Audio Media Mode is a group for all Audio Schemes. The children of the group can honor the Group's rules or not.
Example: You can create a View Scheme Group called the 70s. Include all file types, and with a smartlist rule, show only the files from each year of the 1970s. The Scheme Group sorts by Year, then Month. Create View Schemes within that group that honor the Group's rules. One scheme could be called "Artwork", where you include a smartlist to display only images and video files, and sort by a custom Fine Arts column, then Nationality.
Following is a collection of View Schemes that users have created.