XBMC: How to pick a random background for your custom menu item (within a specific playlist)

Now that's a lengthy title! Now I'm pretty sure this is a common problem, but I haven't been able to find a tutorial for it anywhere (unless I was searching for the wrong keywords?)

What I wanted was simple, in theory! I created a smart playlist for all my anime, called "Anime Playlist". I also had a custom menu item in the home screen which took you straight there, however the background was boring and unrelated.

screenshot000 screenshot001

A cool, randomly selected background from an anime within the playlist. Hmm, how to go about doing that?

So, off to the XMBC forums I went and a nice Canadian by the name Vaikin gave me some directions to where I wanted to go.



At time of writing, I'm running the latest release of XBMC (12/Frodo).

Firstly, you'll need the script.randomandlastitems addon. See if you've already got it (some skins bundle it) by checking the folder %APPDATA%\XBMC\addons\script.randomandlastitems.

Make sure you grab the right one for your XBMC build. I used script.randomandlastitems-2.0.3.zip. Download the zip and install it via:

  • System
  • Add-ons
  • Install from zip file
  • Find and install


Once installed, you can do the rest in XBMC. The instructions I write are for the skin Aeon Nox, so the layout or menus may be a little different for you.

  • Go to the System menu and press DOWN to "Edit main menu"


  • Now press UP to configure the "script.randomandlastitems" addon
  • Under "Smart playlist manager", select "Slot 1" and press ENTER


  • Select "Random Episodes"
  • Choose whatever you want for "Include already watched items?"
  • Select the playlist you want to restrict the backgrounds to (eg. Anime Playlist)


  • Repeat the same steps in Slot 2 if you have any other custom menus you'd like nice backgrounds for
  • Once you're done, back out to the "Edit main menu" screen
  • Press ENTER on your menu item (ie. Anime) to configure it
    • Type: Video Playlist > Anime Playlist
    • Choose Background: Anime Playlist (Episode Random)
    • (optional) Set InfoLine: Anime Playlist (Gives you the watched/unwatched count)

It should now look a little like this

Rinse and repeat for any other custom menus.

And there you have it! Here are some screenshots of the script working. It takes a few seconds before the background changes.

screenshot007 screenshot008 screenshot009


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