Vista Media Center and Videos on Network Drives

Windows Vista LogoWell I succumbed and picked up Microsoft Vista Home Premium for my Media Center PC.It's actually running extremely well and is more stable than XP Media Center 2005. It does have it's little quirks, and one of them is getting my home movies that are stored on a network drive to show up under Vista Media Center's Videos in a nice way** . This also more seriously effects Xbox 360's running as an extender as Vista Home Premium no longer lets you set the extender up with a login script for it to see the network drives.

What to do:
1. Make some shortcuts (right click, create shortcut) of the folders on your network share containing your Videos - this is important - DON'T make shortcuts of mapped drives in Vista - make them of the folders on the Network Shares (ie under Start/Network) otherwise they won't work.

2. Place the shortcuts of these folders into the "C:UsersPublicPublic Videos" folder, then reboot.

Each shortcut properties (right-click, properties, shortcut tab) should look something like this (the inverted commas are needed only if your folder contains words with spaces like my example below):

Target: "//server-name/share-name/folder"
Mine says: Target: "//GIGLANDISK/video_files/Kids Films"

The result?

Without Adding Folders (I have no watched folders according to Media Center or the Xbox), these have now shown up on my Media Center PC and my Xbox 360 just how I want them to. It seems anything in the Public Videos folder shows up, whether you want them to or not.

It works for me, and I hope it works for you too.

** This could be another computer too - this applies if the movie you want isn't physically on the computer you want to play it.

Extra Steps:
1. To get rid of the Sample Videos that show up in Media Center's "Library", delete them (and the Sample Videos folder they are in) from the Vista machine for them to disappear in Media Center (they reside in C:UsersPublicPublic Videos).

2. If you are having a problem getting rid of folders you don't want in the Library of Media Center, the best way to clean it out so far I have found is to delete all of the files in the "C:Users[username]AppDataLocalMicrosoftMedia Player" folder, replacing [username] with the account showing the extra folders (Xbox 360's and extenders come up as MCX1, MCX2 etc.) and then reboot. This only removes the Library Database - not the files so this is safe to do.