By default, Kodi does not store artwork and other metadata with your actual media, but doing so is highly beneficial. With a quick settings change, you can park your videos and their associated metadata in the same place.

Why Store Data Locally?

Kodi usually downloads and stores metadata with the Kodi installation itself—so thus if you have it installed on a media center PC in your living room, that is where the metadata is also located. There are two great reasons why you would want to move away from the default configuration and store your artwork and metadata with your actual media.

First, it speeds up both library rebuilding and the library experience in multi-media-center households. Crunching through the metadata and downloading all the artwork when you first set up Kodi is a pretty intensive operation that can take hours to grind through a large collection—so if you have multiple Kodi boxes, you waste a lot of time (and space). If you store your artwork and metadata with your media, then Kodi will pick up that metadata it scans. The process is not only radically faster but more consistent—the artwork you picked out the first time around is retained, and you don’t have to fiddle with changing movie posters or TV season art.

Second, it keeps all the metadata with the media, so if you switch media center software, archive your content, or share it with a friend, the artwork stays with the media instead of remaining locked up (and potentially lost) with the local Kodi installation.

How to Export Your Current Kodi Artwork Metadata

If you take a peek at your media before you begin the process, you’ll see that there is nothing in your media folders but the core media itself. In the screenshot below, for example, our Back to the Future folder has nothing but the video file itself. All the metadata for the movie is locked away in the Kodi database.

To change that, we need to force Kodi to export all the metadata for all our video files to the individual folders. Thankfully, this is trivially easy if you know where to look. To start the process, run Kodi and click on the Settings icon.

Within the Settings menu, select “Media Settings”.

Within the Media Settings menu, head to Library > Video Library > Export Library.

When prompted, select “Separate”—we want separate metadata files for every entry in the video library.

Confirm “Yes” to exporting thumbnails and fanart.

Next, Kodi will ask if you want to export actor thumbnails. In our tests, neither button had any effect—actor thumbs did not appear in our media folder. So for now, we recommend just choosing “No” (since chances are low that you’d want them cluttering up your media folder anyway).

When asked to “Overwrite old files”, you have a choice. If this is your first time exporting and you know you have no old metadata in the folders (or you wish to overwrite it all), then click “Yes”. If you want to export the metadata to folders that don’t already have local metadata (but you do not want to overwrite any existing metadata in that folder), click “No”. You’ll still get some metadata exported, but it won’t write over any older metadata you might have put there in the past.

Give it a moment to work, and once it’s complete, take a visit to one of your video folders. If we revisit the folder for Back to the Future again, we find that the movie poster and background fanart have been exported to the folder as well as a .NFO file which contains all the text metadata about the movie (which includes general data like actor names and summary, as well as specific data like how many times we’ve watch the movie).

There are only two minor caveats to keep in mind. First, there is no way to configure this process automatically, so if you make any serious changes to your library, then you need to manually run the process again to export your changes to the media directories.

Second, if want the secondary Kodi media centers in your home to pick up the changes you make, you’ll need to update their libraries. You can turn on auto updates by visiting Settings > Library > Video Library > Update library on startup, to make this a simple restart-the-computer affair. When the library update is triggered on the secondary machines, they will see the local metadata and use it.

That’s all there is to it! With a simple change, you can export all your metadata and store it safely with your videos.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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