Banshee – which doubles as a video player – opens in a window with the familiar panel layout. The left panel shows the location of several types of media files, plus some online sources of music. A central panel shows a list of artists and some album cover images – these are downloaded from the web when new tracks are added. A track list is at the bottom of the screen and a Find box at the upper right. Clicking on a file type, artist, album cover or location will filter the track list to display matching files. Select ‘Library’ at the left and ‘All Artists’ and ‘All Albums’ at the top of their respective lists to display all tracks. An optional panel at the bottom of the screen can find and display Wikipedia entries or YouTube videos for selected artists.
To import music files, go to the Media Menu and select ‘Import Media’. You can add tracks from existing folders, or import files from iTunes or eMedia collections. Importing from a folder will bring in the files from its subfolders too.
Banshee supports two kinds of playlist. To create a static playlist, select the album or artist you want to start with, then select Edit/Add to Playlist/New Playlist. Supply a name, and this will create a playlist with your currently selected tracks. The name of the playlist will appear in the left panel. You can add tracks to it by dragging or right-clicking on the track, or via the Edit Menu. Remove tracks from the playlist by right-clicking or using the Delete key.
‘Smart’ playlists select tracks according to criteria you specify. They can update dynamically – e.g. you can ask for ‘50 random tracks’ and get a different selection each time. To create a smart playlist, right-click on ‘Music’ in the left panel, and select ‘New Smart Playlist’. Specify your criteria, give the playlist a name, and it will appear in the panel at the left. You can’t explicitly add tracks to, or remove them from, smart playlists.
If you insert a music CD into your PC, Banshee will open it and display it in the left panel, It will check the web if you are online and look up title and track information if these exist. You can play the CD, and/or import tracks into your music folders with the ‘Import CD’ button at the top right of the screen.
Figure 41: Banshee
You can use the Edit menu to select tracks for burning to a music CD. This will activate a CD burning application – see below for details. You can also edit the details Banshee holds about a track – title, etc – and add new information that can be used for searching or filtering. If you select multiple tracks, you can step through these one at a time, or edit the information for all tracks at once with the ‘Sync all field values’ button. Unwanted tracks can be removed from the library or deleted altogether from your hard drive.
The View Menu controls the layout of the screen. It also provides an Equalizer that you can use to adjust volume levels.
The Playback Menu duplicates the Play, Pause, Previous and Next buttons that appear in the Toolbar, and allows you to select Shuffle and Repeat settings. The Tools Menu allows you to rescan your library for altered files and search for common metadata problems like artists appearing under different names. Extensions added under Edit Preferences may appear here as well. The Help menu simply links to the Mint website.
Music files can be dragged and dropped from Banshee playlists to folders in the File Manager.
Banshee comes with extensions linking it to internet radio channels and podcast channels, though none of these channels are pre-installed. To link to internet radio you will need the URL of the channel – e.g. somafm.com/secretagent.pls. Right-click on ‘Radio’ in the left panel, select ‘Add Station’, and fill in the station URL along with your choice of name and genre. The station will appear as a ‘track’ in your display, and double-clicking will cause it to stream and play. Adding a podcast is similar. Note that the podcast link must be an XML file.
Banshee also has links to the Amazon MP3 music store, the Internet Archive – a particularly good source of audiobooks – and the subscription music streaming service Last.fm.
When Banshee is playing it will display a small musical note in your notification area. Click on this for information about the current track. Right-click to pause, repeat, skip to the next or previous track, or rate the current track. If your keyboard has track control keys you should also be able to use these too.
Banshee will recognise when you plug in an external device such as an MP3 player, and give you access to the tracks. You can also drag and drop music from your own collection on to the device.