My 'lil how to: Enabling Time Capsule/External Harddrive for Apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Russlush3, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. Russlush3 macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2009
    So after becoming completely demoralized last night with what should have been the simplest of steps, I thought I would post a little 'how to' since I'm sure its on the mind of a lot of potential Apple TV buyers and current owners.

    (p.s. I'm a biomed science geek so excuse the trite scientific writing style)

    Background: I have an 2006 macbook (MB) with a 60GB HD, clearly not enough space for all of my music and videos, so bought a 500GB Time Capsule (TC) and moved my itunes library over. Streaming music from TC to MB works fine (even over to airport express), but when I tried streaming video from TC to MB to Apple TV (aTV), it lagged for a while, then was simply not working (maybe because I have g, not n wireless speed on my MB, or its a bit old, or any of a million other reasons).

    1.) So, since aTV is not currently programmed to utilize the USB port for external storage, I decided to patchstick my aTV and install boxee and XBMC (guide here). Fine print: keep in mind that technically this may alter your warranty agreement (although, I was told by another forum member that this does not void it), in reality, when I had problems, I went in to the genius bar, and there was really no questions asked.

    2.) After your "freed" aTV is up and running, connect your TC/external hard drive (XHD) to aTV via a USB2.0 cord (quick note, aTV is almost always on standby, you should never really have to turn it off, i.e. unplug, but if you do, remove the USB cord or else it will try to boot from the XHD).

    3.) On your mac, open up Airport Utility, select the time capsule (mine is called "Russ TC" so will refer to as such from now on), click "Manual Setup," click on "Disks" in the upper row, then select the "File Sharing" tab, check the box "Enable File Sharing," my "Secure Shared Disks with:" is set to with 'Time Capsule password.' Click "Update" and you can close Airport Utility.

    3a.) Side Project: If you have TV shows, you'll also want to make sure that your files are labeled correctly so things will work seamlessly when you go into XBMC, so in Finder, open a window and navigate to your itunes folder (mine is Russ TC->Data->iTunes->iTunes Music->TV Shows). Currently I have just three TV series: Weeds, Californication, and American Dad. You probably have them tagged and organized in itunes, and just changing the file name should not have any effect on this. Mine were originally named with the episode title, so I just had to use wikipedia (or info I set in itunes) to figure out the season and episode number, and rename as "show S##E##" where show is, the uhh, show, S is the season number and E is the episode number. For example, "Doing the Backstroke" is Weeds season 3 episode 1, so I just renamed it "Weeds S03E01." This might take a little time, but its necessary for XBMC, and it will greatly benefit you as all the episode information will be automatically retrieved and tagged in XBMC, much better than manually doing it in itunes.

    4.) Okay, so, on your aTV, go into XBMC, select "Videos," then "Add source," then as the top text box is highlighted (as default says <None>), select it, and an on-screen keyboard will show up. Simply enter "smb://Time-Capsule-Name/path" (e.g. mine would be "smb://Russ-TC/data/itunes/itunes music/tv shows"). Note that (at least for me) spaces in the TC name had to be replaced by dashes ("Russ-TC") while spaces in the path are left as spaces ("itunes music" and "tv shows"). Any alternation in this can lead to different types of errors; in addition, I know you are thinking it would be so much easier to navigate there by using the "browse" option instead of tediously typing it in, but that never worked for me, took literally hours to realize this. I think the smb browsing automatically looks at your computer's hard drive, not the USB-attached external hard drive. In any case, change the nickname for it if you wish, then select OK.

    5.) An extra line will show up with the given name so select it and you should see your folders of TV shows. To gather episode information, etc (for the first time and whenever you add more files to the folder), just highlight it and press and hold the 'menu' button on the remote for 3 seconds. What they call a 'context menu' will pop up, and just select "set content" and it'll show you a few databases you can use to gather the episode information, depending on whether its a TV Show, Movie, Music Video, etc. Just select one and hit okay.

    6.) Follow similar steps for your movies and music and fiddle around with the skins/view options and choose your favorite Fanart/thumbs and in my opinion have a much better way of browsing your media files.

    As I said, I'm clearly no expert, so feel free to comment/correct. I'm sure there are other ways to do it as well (I was particularly interested if this could be done without the USB cable), but this is the most straightforward and the others are a little over my head.

    Hope this helps,

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