Media Center Themer or Media Center Studio? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 108 Old 03-22-2012, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Who uses what and why?

It seems like MC Studio was the original & there's plenty of info out there but it also seems like it's defunct and/or abandoned. Some have tried to save it but it sounds like the end result is it can be hit or miss and somewhat finicky.

MC Themer seems a little more current and while not as much info is out there it seems like it's more stable of a platform.

Thoughts?

Jer

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post #2 of 108 Old 03-22-2012, 09:42 AM
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I just installed MC Studio using assassin's instructions. Seems to work OK. At least does what I wanted, which was to change themes. Maybe I'll give Themer a try as well.
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post #3 of 108 Old 03-22-2012, 09:45 AM - Thread Starter
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I should add that my needs will be pretty simple. I want to reorganize the titles & icons on on the start screen and then maybe change the color (theme).

Jer

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post #4 of 108 Old 03-22-2012, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coppertubing View Post

I just installed MC Studio using assassin's instructions. Seems to work OK. At least does what I wanted, which was to change themes. Maybe I'll give Themer a try as well.

I read that your changes will sometimes just not be there and then mysteriously come back. All for no reason. Doesn't sound very stable to me but I have first hand experience to base that off of. It looks like in the WMC7 setup guide at the top of this page is also going to be abandoning MC Studio in favor of MC Themer so maybe that's all I need to know?

Jer

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post #5 of 108 Old 03-22-2012, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremyhelling View Post

I read that your changes will sometimes just not be there and then mysteriously come back. All for no reason. Doesn't sound very stable to me but I have first hand experience to base that off of. It looks like in the WMC7 setup guide at the top of this page is also going to be abandoning MC Studio in favor of MC Themer so maybe that's all I need to know?

I thought with both systems you needed to remove/rename the startresources.dll file in your DSM directory within eHome to ensure your changes stick.
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post #6 of 108 Old 03-22-2012, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgrinch View Post

I thought with both systems you needed to remove/rename the startresources.dll file in your DSM directory within eHome to ensure your changes stick.

I couldn't say as I've never installed either one and am just trying to get some info up front to help me decide which one I want to install and try out. I read a post though (and I'm pretty sure it was on this forum) were someone seemed to be saying that it was changes that were there for a while and suddenly disappeared only to return later for no reason. As in it was unstable and wasn't just operator error. But this is why I'm asking now.

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post #7 of 108 Old 03-22-2012, 06:57 PM
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My vote is for Media Center Themer. I have Media Center Studio on my main HTPC and I am currently configuring Media Center Themer for my bedroom HTPC. The only functionality I can get to work out of Studio is changing the background. It will not rename or reorder the WMC menus. Themer has much more functionality than Studio. In addition to adding backgrounds, you can change text, text fonts and text colors. You can rearrange menu items and turn off unwanted menu items. You can also add your own menu items to start programs or web pages. That being said Themer is way more difficult to configure. There is no GUI, so all the modifications are done by writing to a XML file. Studio is dead and no longer supported but it does work. Patchou is still updating Themer, and it will even work with Win 8.

Media Center Themer
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post #8 of 108 Old 03-23-2012, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FastM3 View Post

My vote is for Media Center Themer. I have Media Center Studio on my main HTPC and I am currently configuring Media Center Themer for my bedroom HTPC.
Media Center Themer


Do you have a functioning project or MCML code that you can share? I'm specifically interested in a package that would have all the declarations and examples for a fully-functioning menu customization.

I once was interested in this, but to quote the project documentation: "this topic is advanced and time-consuming one."

I found this to be an understatement mostly because I'm not really interested spending any time learning an extremely specialized language (MCML).

To add insult, MS has a tool kit that does this exact manipulation with Visual Studio, but refuses to release it outside a Windows embedded SDK license.
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post #9 of 108 Old 03-23-2012, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FastM3 View Post

My vote is for Media Center Themer. I have Media Center Studio on my main HTPC and I am currently configuring Media Center Themer for my bedroom HTPC. The only functionality I can get to work out of Studio is changing the background. It will not rename or reorder the WMC menus. Themer has much more functionality than Studio. In addition to adding backgrounds, you can change text, text fonts and text colors. You can rearrange menu items and turn off unwanted menu items. You can also add your own menu items to start programs or web pages. That being said Themer is way more difficult to configure. There is no GUI, so all the modifications are done by writing to a XML file. Studio is dead and no longer supported but it does work. Patchou is still updating Themer, and it will even work with Win 8.

Media Center Themer

+1

The Help file included with Media Center Themer gets you up and running with some very simple instructions.
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post #10 of 108 Old 03-23-2012, 07:40 PM
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So far I really like Media Center Themer.

However, I'm trying to add my entry point for media browser under the movies menu.

I've verified that media browser is "Addon1" in my system by moving it to Order=1 under the builtin section of the xml file.

Also, I was able to add the default picture library as the first item under under movies by doing "AddItem" as follows
--------





--------

Therefore I should be able to do the same for media browser by doing
--------





--------

So, my question is, for Media Browser, which is Addon1, what would "XXX" be in the code above.

I've tried XXX= media browser, mediabrowser, and Addon1, all to no avail. I've also tried where there is no "_XXX" just using Name="Addon1"

Thanks!

Jay
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post #11 of 108 Old 03-23-2012, 11:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FastM3 View Post

My vote is for Media Center Themer. I have Media Center Studio on my main HTPC and I am currently configuring Media Center Themer for my bedroom HTPC. The only functionality I can get to work out of Studio is changing the background. It will not rename or reorder the WMC menus. Themer has much more functionality than Studio. In addition to adding backgrounds, you can change text, text fonts and text colors. You can rearrange menu items and turn off unwanted menu items. You can also add your own menu items to start programs or web pages. That being said Themer is way more difficult to configure. There is no GUI, so all the modifications are done by writing to a XML file. Studio is dead and no longer supported but it does work. Patchou is still updating Themer, and it will even work with Win 8.

Media Center Themer

Ewe.. not sure I want to write XML files for everything. I also know I want to change start menu things so that appears to rule out Studio if you're saying it won't actually change start menu items and only affects backgrounds.

Jer

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post #12 of 108 Old 04-18-2012, 05:31 PM
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Well, for those insterested, I have now released version 1.43 of Media Center Themer. Among the updates, you'll find a new File Checker tool to help you identify problems with your XML theme file.

Download: http://www.patchou.com/projects/media-center-themer/

Have fun
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post #13 of 108 Old 04-18-2012, 05:59 PM
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post #14 of 108 Old 05-03-2012, 05:28 PM
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Does anyone have a working XML file for rearranging addins in custom menus? I'm not seeing much at all in the documentation, and I've messaged Patchou but haven't heard back.

Thanks.
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post #15 of 108 Old 05-04-2012, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlog View Post

Does anyone have a working XML file for rearranging addins in custom menus? I'm not seeing much at all in the documentation, and I've messaged Patchou but haven't heard back.

Thanks.

I started using MCE 7 Reset Toolbox. It's Media Center Studio taken over by another developer. Works pretty well IMO.

http://madeformediacenter.com/m4mc/a...4-639594d80e7b
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post #16 of 108 Old 07-02-2012, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlog View Post

Does anyone have a working XML file for rearranging addins in custom menus? I'm not seeing much at all in the documentation, and I've messaged Patchou but haven't heard back.


Thanks.

Since direct xml code in the forum's editor gets completely blanked out (it's trying to look for completely invalid web addresses I believe), everything below is going to start an xml line with the pipe (|) rather than the less than operator (<)

The order of elements in a custom menu is determined by their order in your xml file. Example

|Custom Title="My Menu">
|MenuItem Name="First addon">
|Image>path\to\image|/Image>
|Link>http:\\if.web.link|/Link>

|MenuItem Name="Second addon">
|Image>path\to\image|/Image>
|Program>%path%\to.exe|/Program>
|PlayingDirective>pause|/PlayingDirective>
|/Custom>
Quote:
Originally Posted by j_the_alchemist View Post

So far I really like Media Center Themer.

However, I'm trying to add my entry point for media browser under the movies menu.

I've verified that media browser is "Addon1" in my system by moving it to Order=1 under the builtin section of the xml file.

Also, I was able to add the default picture library as the first item under under movies by doing "AddItem" as follows

Therefore I should be able to do the same for media browser by doing


So, my question is, for Media Browser, which is Addon1, what would "XXX" be in the code above.
I've tried XXX= media browser, mediabrowser, and Addon1, all to no avail. I've also tried where there is no "_XXX" just using Name="Addon1"

Thanks!
Jay

Hi Jay, I hope my reply spurs another response from you. I haven't gotten everything working completely, but I've never tried to do exactly what you're attempting. I've tried getting what I'm looking for from about 3 directions.

Unfortunately, I cannot see any code in your post. It's blank, just as my quote of your post indicates (Since the editor doesn't really allow us to include code you'll need to try and work around this

I think for the addition of mediabrowser your going to need to use it's entrypoint title (which should be mediabrowser) from the windows registry (where it's created under MediaCenter/Extensions/Categories/CustomStartMenu/Mediabrowser. For the xml file it should work by using the following:

|StartMenu>
|Builtin>
|Addon1 Visible="false"/> ---hides default mb strip
|Movies>
|MenuItem Name="MoviesLibrary" Visible="false"/> ---hides default movie library
|AddItem Name="Addon1_mediabrowser" Order="1"/> ---adds default mb entrypoint to Order1
|/Movies>
|/Builtin>
|/StartMenu>

Make sure you close all the nested menuitem additem commands /> but close the Movies tile with . My worry is that it sounds like you've tried all of this already, and it doesn't work. I can't attempt this until later when I'm at home, but I'll give it a try and see if it works.
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post #17 of 108 Old 07-03-2012, 02:41 AM
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Cool, I've downloaded Themer because I wanted to change the background image. I just changed it to the default included with the software. Besides the text changing from White to Green and some graphics embedded in the image, its the same color. So I'm on the look out for interesting themes. Besides that I have checked out MCE Reset Tool Box, I think its worth the cost for all it does. I would like to remove Pictures + Video and replace it with the icon for XBMC , remove the Sports icon or turn it off since its totally useless. Would be nice of the old Speed TV app actually took you to the Speed 2 web site and logged in, project maybe that is if nobody makes one for XBMC.

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post #18 of 108 Old 07-03-2012, 07:46 AM
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I looked at Themer a while ago but never tried it.

I've always used MCS to redo the backgrounds and font colors.

Recently, I used MCS to to make highlighting and selecting the default movie library icon send me directly into my media browser movie collection. Can Themer do anything like that?


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post #19 of 108 Old 07-03-2012, 09:13 AM
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With Media Center Themer, you can add a new custom menu entry in Media Center and point it to whatever you want.

Some examples of XML files are included in the documentation. I don't think many public themes are available/distributed yet, most people who use this software use it for their own purposes and don't share the result.
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post #20 of 108 Old 07-05-2012, 11:26 AM
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Alright, I've now completely exhausted all possible ways I can think to add the mediabrowser icon into other strips, and none of them that I've tried work. Interestingly, I've tried nesting the following AddItem commands in a builtin string (like TV, Movies, Pictures) and they don't break the xml file. The theme still loads, but the mediabrowser icon doesn't show up anywhere that I try to move it. Here's what I've tried:

AddItem Name="Addon1_Addon1"
AddItem Name="Addon1_Media Browser"
AddItem Name="Addon1_media browser"
AddItem Name="Addon1_Media_Browser"
AddItem Name="Addon1_media_browser"
AddItem Name="Addon1_MediaBrowser"
AddItem Name="Addon1_mediabrowser"

Just as a note, AddItem works for all the normal builtins. If I wanted to move the recorded tv icon to another stip then
AddItem Name="TV_RecordedTV">
works perfectly. I think it's just the name of the mediabrowser icon in the Addon1 strip that I can't figure out.

Patchou (Cyril) I hope your subscibed to this thread, I could use some help.

I've enabled all the logs, but the addon strings are never logged with the rest. I've enabled all logs and toggled the "process addons" key, and neither 0 or 1 will enable logging of the Addon1 strings in the logs
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post #21 of 108 Old 07-08-2012, 09:23 AM
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Media Center add-ons are loaded and added to the menu differently than the built-in menus. You can't simply make-up a string like "Addon1_MediaBrowser" and make it work this way, although I agree itwould be nice if it worked smile.gif.

The AddItem element of Builtin can only add existing built-in menus. To add custom menu entries to a menu, you need to create a Custom menu and add Addin elements to it.
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post #22 of 108 Old 07-09-2012, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patchou View Post

Media Center add-ons are loaded and added to the menu differently than the built-in menus. You can't simply make-up a string like "Addon1_MediaBrowser" and make it work this way, although I agree itwould be nice if it worked smile.gif.
The AddItem element of Builtin can only add existing built-in menus. To add custom menu entries to a menu, you need to create a Custom menu and add Addin elements to it.

Vistademon managed to figure this out with the MCE 7 Reset Toolbox, which requires your program to run. The GUI in the reset toolbox lets you move the addon entry points into the built in folders.

I've since found that the default installation of MediaBrowser uses the registry to add entry points under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/MediaCenter/Entrypoints and adds the "MediaBrowser" menu strip under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/MediaCenter/CustomStartMenu/MediaBrowser. With that, you can copy the entrypoint keys that are created for Movies, TV Shows, etc. to your hard drive and edit their location to the CustomStartMenu/MediaBrowser. After you re-open them with the Windows Registry Editor all the collection entry points will show up under the installed MediaBrowser menu. You can change the visibility of the default MediaBrowser entrypoint's registry key (known also as the Enhanced Home Screen) to false and only your collection entrypoints will show up under the mediabrowser start menu.

I'm happy enough with this for now since I can use my xml file with your program to hide the default "RecordedTV" from the TV Menu and just hide the Movie menu altogether
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post #23 of 108 Old 07-13-2012, 10:47 AM
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Is there a straightforward way to make Netflix a top level menu item, instead of having it appear under "Movies"? I figure that with Media Browser, I don't need the movies menu item, but need a place for netflix.
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post #24 of 108 Old 07-13-2012, 01:19 PM
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It's a special "promo" item and it doesn't like being anywhere but on the movies bar.
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post #25 of 108 Old 07-13-2012, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puwaha View Post

It's a special "promo" item and it doesn't like being anywhere but on the movies bar.

Using Media Center Studio, I've moved Netflix to the Videos strip on multiple machines without any issues.
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post #26 of 108 Old 08-05-2012, 02:10 PM
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Really enjoying messing around with Media Center Themer and was able to do the basic stuff like changing backgrounds, color schemes, referencing different images over the default ones. I started to look into customizing the Start menu and that is where I am having the same issues mentioned in previous posts. I was able to rearrange the builtin menu items fine and I was able to create a custom menu item fine, however I am trying to move Netflix item to the TV group and trying to move the Media Browser addin to the Movies group (and then remove the standard Movies Library) to clean up and consolidate some of the menus. There seems to be issues whenever you start mixing the builtin items with the addons and promo items. Although other applications seem to be able to do it like Media Center Studio and also MCE Reset toolbox. I would like to just stick with one MC customizing program if I could. I like how Media Center Themer handles the customizations and would like to stick with it, but MCE Reset toolbox might be the only currently supported program than can do everything I am looking for right now. Has anyone had any luck with MCT and Netflix or Media Browser? This seemed like the thread that was getting towards a solution but then it just stopped.
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post #27 of 108 Old 08-05-2012, 02:22 PM
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I have used both. Check out Assassin guides as he has some good info on this.

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post #28 of 108 Old 08-13-2012, 12:34 PM
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I wouldn't mind paying for the Assassin guide but only if I know it will show me how to the following with only Media Center Themer:
1a. Move Netflix to another strip or 1b. Call the Media Browser Movies Entry Point in the Movies menu strip
2. Call the Media Browser TV Shows Entry point to the TV menu strip

I tried Reset Toolbox but had some issues so I backed it out. I kept getting errors when saving Start Menu changes, there were multiple TV menu options when trying to rearrange, MCE didn't seem as smooth after installing, etc. So I would like to be able to do this just with Themer but not sure if that is even possible. As long as the Assassins guides shows how to do those things specifically I wouldn't mind paying. But I just don't want to pay just to be back where I was at the start...
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post #29 of 108 Old 08-16-2012, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
I wouldn't mind paying for the Assassin guide but only if I know it will show me how to the following with only Media Center Themer:
1a. Move Netflix to another strip or 1b. Call the Media Browser Movies Entry Point in the Movies menu strip
2. Call the Media Browser TV Shows Entry point to the TV menu strip

Bump.

I also wouldn't mind paying Assassin for his guide if I knew that these are possible. Has anyone else been successful:
1. Moving NetFlix to another Strip?
2. Putting MediaBrowser Entry points (TV, Movies, Music) in different strips?

Does anyone have any screenshots of their custom WMC menus?
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post #30 of 108 Old 08-16-2012, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bellj949 View Post

I wouldn't mind paying for the Assassin guide but only if I know it will show me how to the following with only Media Center Themer:
1a. Move Netflix to another strip or 1b. Call the Media Browser Movies Entry Point in the Movies menu strip
2. Call the Media Browser TV Shows Entry point to the TV menu strip
I tried Reset Toolbox but had some issues so I backed it out. I kept getting errors when saving Start Menu changes, there were multiple TV menu options when trying to rearrange, MCE didn't seem as smooth after installing, etc. So I would like to be able to do this just with Themer but not sure if that is even possible. As long as the Assassins guides shows how to do those things specifically I wouldn't mind paying. But I just don't want to pay just to be back where I was at the start...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0majestic1 View Post

Bump.
I also wouldn't mind paying Assassin for his guide if I knew that these are possible. Has anyone else been successful:
1. Moving NetFlix to another Strip?
2. Putting MediaBrowser Entry points (TV, Movies, Music) in different strips?
Does anyone have any screenshots of their custom WMC menus?



I paid for the guides and they are really a great resource in a lot of ways. This is not one of the areas that he or anyone else has covered with this tool. Even the mediabrowser community recommends MediaCenterStudio. My experience was that every WMC update broke MCS changes, but Patchou's Media Center Themer has outlasted at least the latest update for sure and probably one or two before the latest.

Unfortunately even Cyril doesn't know how VistaDemon managed to move all the entrypoints to all the strips in WMC. Everyone seems to be primarily interested in the background, which is easily accomplished about 4 different ways. Assassin does provide a custom xml file so that you can use the Media Center Studio Themes (.mct) that he provides links to on some storage server. This definitely jazzes up the look, but doesn't do what you are specifically asking.

I'd be willing to test a few extra ideas, and in writing this one I think a new idea may have manifested. I need to double check, but if the builtin menus pull the title name from registry inputs, we could easily find the title of the registry entrypoints for Netflix, Mediabrowser, etc. and use an XML file to move them to different built in strips. This will take some time, anyone else is free to head down the same rabbit hole. My post about registry entrypoints above should lead you there, as well as the xml examples.

I won't really have access to my HTPCs for testing until Saturday, and the xml file will only get as many different attempts as I can imagine. Feel free to test for yourself. If anything breaks just uninstall MCThemer, remove your Patchou folder, and start over.
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