Use Boxee to turn your Mac into a Media Center

Imagine one device controlling your TV, music, movies, online video and more. No more needing separate DVRs, DVD players, and in some cases, cable boxes. Whether you have an older Mac sitting around or plan to buy one just for this purpose, make your Mac into your own media center for free with Boxee.

What is Boxee?

Boxee is a freeware application designed to turn OS X into a media center. What separates Boxee apart from the other media center applications and distributions out there is that Boxee has social networking ties. You can recommend and rate content and if it’s freely available on the internet, you can view content that others recommend.

Supported Formats:

Boxee can handle almost anything you could throw at it except DRM encoded content such as music / video from the iTunes Store and it only reads the first session of a multi-session CD/DVD. Supported formats include:

- CD, DVD, Video CDs.
- AVI, MPEG, ASF, WMV, MOV, MP4.
- DivX, XviD, 3ivx, DV, H.263, WMV, QuickTime.
- .MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Real Audio, AIFF, WAV.
- .JPG, .GIF, .PNG, .TIFF
- and more.

Other Features and Plugins:

Other interesting features in Boxee is the addition of a Bit Torrent client and a plugin structure. The Bit Torrent client is integrated with the Boxee site and has access to many legal trackers. The plugin structure allows anyone familiar with Python to add functions into Boxee. Some examples of plugins are internet radio and television browsers,

Another feature that I personally like about Boxee is that it’s just an application. You don’t have to partition, format or do anything major to your system in order to use it. If you decide to use your Mac as something else, it’s painless.

Install and Set up Boxee:

Installing and running Boxee is easy. Here’s all you need to do:

1. Go to www.Boxee.tv to sign up for an account.

2. After signing up, download the application.

3. Check the email you registered with and verify your Boxee account.

4. Double-click the Boxee.dmg to mount it and install.

5. After installation, run Boxee and click “Add New”.

6. Enter your Boxee account name and password.

7. The Boxee interface will appear.

Adding custom folders to Boxee:

To add custom folders, for example a Movies folder on your Desktop:

- Click on the left hand side to open up the menu.

- Choose “Video” and click “Browse”.

- Choose “Add Source” from the list.

- Choose “Local Sources”.

- Click “Add new source”.

- Choose the device (in my case, it was my home folder).

- Your home directory will appear.

- Navigate to your where your folder is and choose it.

- Name your Directory and check the checkboxes next to the source type (Movie, Music, Pictures, etc).

Note: Clicking “Private” will keep Boxee from scanning the folder and including it in your profile.

Once you get up and running, I’d highly recommend exploring the available addons and plugins. For a first one, try installing the Hulu application so you can watch television from within Boxee. Just note that it’s in alpha stage so it may be unstable and Hulu has already tried to block Boxee from using its service twice.

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