Methods and Tools for Editing the EPG in Media Center

Adding color coding and using My Channel Logos brings gives some flair to your boring EPG in Media Center. Adam Thursby

While some cable and satellite companies allow you limited ability to edit your electronic programming guide (EPG), if you really want complete control of the channels you see and how you see them, you need an HTPC running the right software. Windows Media Center has it's own options and you can expand upon these using third party options as well. Let's take a look at how you can change your EPG to better suit your TV viewing habits.

Built-in Functions

Media Center offers several functions without users having to install any third-party options at all. From filters to color coding, you can find a lot of ways to dress up your EPG within the software. One of my absolute favorite features over my cable company's EPG is the ability to completely change what I see. I can add or delete channels as I see fit so that instead of scrolling through 400+ channels, I only have to go through the ones I want. This greatly improves the experience in my opinion as I don't need to go through page after page of channel listings that I'll never watch. In our home as an example, only HD channels are listed in our guide. We have HDTVs and having to scroll through a few hundred SD channels isn't something I wanted to have to do.

As well as going through and completely editing your EPG, Media Center offers certain filters you can use to quickly find the content you're looking for. From HDTV to sports and kids shows, using these filters temporarily edit your guide to only show that content. You can quickly have your full guide back in no time as none of the filtering is permanent.

Another built-in feature of Media Center is the ability to color code your guide. While there's no option to edit the coloring, when you turn on this option under your TV settings, certain types of programming changes color in the guide. Movies are purple, news is an olive color and family programming becomes a light blue. While not everything gets a new shade, I've had this option turned on since day one on our HTPC. It makes finding shows as you go through the guide (even an edited one) that much easier. (And it looks good too!)

Third-party Options

If the options that Media Center gives you aren't enough, there are several third-parties who have come up with which not only make finding channels and content easier but also make your EPG look great. The first of these (and one you can see in the included screenshots) is My Channel Logos. This program will add logos for each of the channels in your guide. While many people may be used to using channel numbers, you have to admit that trying to find 786 or 932 can get tiresome. By using logos, you add a visual component that allows for quick and easy channel identification.

My Channel Logos allows you to use either black and white or color logos which really add a pop to the EPG. While the software will attempt to auto-populate all of your logos, you may find some missing. If so, there are several online resources that will let you fill in the gaps and My Channel Logos does allow for individual logo editing if you want to use a different image.

While it won't change your guide visually, Media Center Guide Tool is a way to edit, manage, backup and restore your guide settings. Using the tool, you can add and delete channels as well as merge your tuner pool if you need to. The software will also let you manage your guide remotely should you ever need to.

Full Control

Overall, Media Center users have the tools necessary to completely control and manage their electronic program guides if they want to. While MSO DVR UIs will allow you some control, if you really want a custom experience, this is the best way to get it. Other HTPC software offers similar solutions. If you're really looking to not only have a good looking but functional guide, you can achieve it with a little work and some software help.