HOW-TO install and switch between skins in XBMC

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XBMC is noted as having a very flexible and robust framework for its GUI, (now also proven by the fact that several other software projects have copied it), making theme-skinning and personal customization very accessible. Users can download and user others third-parties skins in XBMC, or create their own skin (or modify an existing skin) and share it with others via public websites dedicated for Xbox skins trading. "Project Mayhem" is the official default skin for XBMC; ("Project Mayhem" which is now in its third version is commonly know as "PMIII", there is also a high-definition version of this skin that is called "PM3.HD").

Many third-party skins exist and while many are of original and unique designs, a few skins are almost exact replicas of other multimedia software, with skins clones of Apple TV and Front Row, Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition (MCE), MediaPortal, Meedio/MeediOS, HDeeTV, Kaleidescape, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and others. Each skin provides a totally different and unique user experience, all showing just how flexible XBMC’s skinning engine really is.

Fully Skinnable and Customizable Interface

Users can create their own skins, or choose one of the many already available skins. XBMC uses a standard XML base, making theme-skinning and personal customization very accessible to everyone. Users themselves can create their own skin (or simply modify an existing skin) and share it with others via public websites dedicated for XBMC skins trading. Colors, controls, navigation, positioning of elements, animation, even adding additional functionality can be achieved with a skin. “Project Mayhem” is the official skin from Team-XBMC; which is now in its third version, commonly know as “PM3″.

Installing Skins

Skins are installed (copied) into the skins directory under XBMC application folder and is after that is very simple to switch between the installed skins from under "Appearance" in the "Look and Feel" tab under the Settings menu in the XBMC GUI.

List of working Skins

On this other wiki page you can find an updated list of working and non-working skins.

Manually installing skins

Skins are copied to the "/XBMC/skins/" directory inside a folder that is the name of the skin, (the default Project Mayhem III skin is for example located inside the folder "/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/").

Example of a skin directory hierarchy structure:

/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/skin.xml
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/720p/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/1080i/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/colors/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/fonts/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/media/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/NTSC/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/NTSC16x9/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/PAL/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/PAL16x9/
/XBMC/skins/Project Mayhem III/sounds/

XBMC for Linux skin directory

On your Linux based computer you will find the plugin directories here:

~/.xbmc/skin/

XBMC for Mac skin directory

On your Mac OS X based computer you will find the plugin directories here:

~/Library/Application Support/XBMC/skin/

XBMC for Windows skin directory

On your Windows XP or Windows Vista based computer you will find the plugin directories here:

x:\Program Files\XBMC\skin\

("x:" is the partition where you have your operating-system installed).

Switch between skins in XBMC

Switching between already installed skins are done from within the GUI from the "Appearance" section in the "Look and Feel" tab under the Settings menu in the XBMC GUI.

Look and Feel Skin Settings

Skin
Allows you to select the skin for the User Interface. See Skinning XBMC for more information.
Skin Theme
Allows you to change the theme associated with your selected skin. See Skin Themes for more information.
Skin Fonts
Allows you to choose the fonts displayed in the User Interface. The font sets are configured in the font.xml portion of your skin. See Fonts for more information.
Skin Zoom
Allows you to zoom in the view of the GUI.
Startup Window
Allows you to select the screen that XBMC starts up to.
Navigation Sounds
Allows you to select or disable the sound scheme used in the User Interface.
Enable RSS Feeds
Turn this off to remove the scrolling RSS news ticker


Skinning XBMC

You can find an detailed explanations of how to modify or make new skins for XBMC yourself here (and more here and here).