How to get around lack of shortcut support in MB3.

By | July 29, 2013

Update:

Shortcut support has since been added to Media Browser 3, so this article has little worth aside from awesome reading.

/Update:

For those of you with kids, you may have been faced with organizing certain content that involved it existing in two places at once.  For example – The Superman Anthology, which I wanted in our movie collection, but also in our kids’ collection.  With MediaBrowser 2, all I had to do was create a shortcut to the original location (our collection) and place it in the kids’ movie collection…problem solved.  Well, with MB3, shortcuts are no longer supported and will cause you major headaches if you try them.  So what do you do for this type of scenario?  Read on…

MediaBrowser 3 has a very powerful media library selector that allows you to “fuse”, or combine, multiple locations into a single media collection.  In fact, MediaBrowser 2 also had this, but shortcuts were just so damn easy in some situations.  Anyway, let’s move along and get to what the point is – fixing our media collection to allow single titles to show up in multiple locations.

First, we need to assume a few things:

  • You have shares available to your media and can create new shares to accommodate what we’re about to do.
  • You have a working installation of MB3 Server (clients don’t really matter, so long as they can access the server).
  • You have NO shortcuts!
  • You have movies or TV series that you want to show up in different shares.

Now, let’s get to it.  The folder names I’m going to use are not mandatory by any means.  You can call yours whatever you like…just realize why I named them what I did so that you can understand their purpose.  I am going to work with four (4) different media locations (defined in MB3 Server) that I already have, with the UNC path in parenthesis:

  • Movies (\\mediasvr\videos)
  • TV Shows (\\mediasvr\TV Shows)
  • Children’s Movies (\\mediasvr\children’s videos)
  • Children’s TV (\\mediasvr\kid’s tv)

I had more locations than this when I did it (i.e. some Documentaries, etc.), but this is just to start you off…afterwards it won’t matter how you want to mix and match.  What I wanted was to put some movies I had in Movies in Children’s Movies and do the same for TV Shows and Children’s TV.  This first thing I did was create a new share that all HTPC clients (and server) would be able to access.  I named this shared folder Universal.  Inside the Universal folder I created two more folders – Movies and TV.  Hopefully, this is self-explanatory and you can see where I’m going with this.

The next part is very important (was to me, anyway) and must come in this order.  This will maintain your playstate and watched status of the media we’re going to move around.  Yes, MB3 will allow you to move stuff around and keep that stuff – cool, right?  Access your MB3 Server using an account that can modify the libraries of all profiles affected.  For each profile and assigned library, you are going to want to modify the media collection entries for every location you want media to show in both locations for.  Clear as mud?  Good.  Don’t worry, I’m going to explain…

1. Go to your Default Media Library in MB3 Server.

Default Media Library

Default Media Library

2. Expand one of the locations you want a title to show up in two locations for (Movies in this example).

Expand collection

Expand the media collection

3. Click the “+” to add a new location and put in the path to the Movies directory that is under the new Universal share.

Add new location

Add the new UNC path location

4. Now my Movies media collection will contain media from two locations!

Fused collection

“Fused” media collection

5. Do the same for all other media collections you wish (Children’s Movies, TV Shows, and Children’s TV for me).

Other libraries

Repeat for other libraries

Once you have the new locations defined where you want them, it’s time to start moving your media around.  For this example, I’ll use the Superman Collection that I have.  It currently resides in \\mediasvr\videos, which is shared solely for our Movies media collection.  This is only accessible to us, as we have a password-protected profile.  I’m simply going to cut and paste the entire Superman Collection directory to the new \\mediasvr\universal\movies directory.  The \\mediasvr\universal\movies directory now is an added media location under Movies and Children’s Movies.

Universal media location

Note the new UNC path for this box set

Once all the media is moved, just head to MB3 Server again, go to Scheduled Tasks, and kick off a manual media library scan.  Once that is complete, visit a collection that had some media you just moved.

Moved media

Moved media in original library

Notice anything?  You should…the entire collection retained its watched status and personalized ratings!  I didn’t have to redo a thing for any of this collection in its original media location.  Note that this is only possible if you map your new universal shares first!  If you move your media before mapping them and a media scan kicks off, all that moved media will get wiped and then re-added later, resulting in lost status.

Let’s go check Children’s Movies where it should also reside now (I switched profiles as we don’t have a Children’s Movies media collection under our profile).

New media library

The new media library

There it is!  Since it is actually a new media item for this library, it shows up unwatched.  However, it does not show up in the Latest Unwatched Movies lineup since the embedded date is maintained.  That may be a good thing or bad thing depending on your preference…there’s not much that can be done that won’t affect all locations it exists in, unfortunately(?).

Well, that’s about it.  I did the same for some TV series and Documentaries (films and series) and it solved my lack of shortcut support issue since moving away from MB2 entirely.  Hope it helps you out!

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