From Hydrogenaudio Knowledgebase
Revision as of 03:58, 13 February 2005 by Topdownjimmy (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search

foobar2000 is a free music player for Windows. It features multiple playlists, a music database, streaming, ReplayGain support, extensive plug-ins support and more.

Supported formats


Supported through plug-ins:

In addition, foobar2000 can also play music directly from compressed RAR, ZIP and 7-ZIP archives without requiring the user to extract the files prior to playing.

Supported languages

  • English

Supported platforms

  • Windows

No known plans exists to port it to other platforms, but attempts have been made, with varying degrees of success, to run foobar2000 on x86 Linux systems by using Wine.

User Interface


By default foobar2000 uses the standard interface, foo_ui_standard. This interface is based around a tabbed list of playlists. Playlists are then formatted according to the title formatting strings entered by the user. These allow access to tag data, as well as information about the state of the program in the playlist display.

Columns UI

foo_ui_columns is an extension of the ideas used in the standard interface. It takes the open area of the playlist and divides it into one or more columns that have individual formatting strings. Recent versions of Columns UI have also added support for UI Extension panels which appear in Columns UI's sidebar or in the toolbar.

Because of the useful extensions to the Standard UI, Columns UI is rapidly becoming popular and continues to be under rapid development.


TAGZ is the language used to format the way track information is displayed, search for tracks, edit tags using Masstagger, etc. Thorough documentation on various TAGZ fields and functions is laid out in titleformat_help.html, which can be found in your foobar2000 directory.

Beginner's Guide

Getting Started

Always remember that the best way to become comfortable with foobar is to read the forums regularly and to play around with foobar itself. Download some configs (found under "Appearance" in the "External Links" section below), study how they do what they do, change them around to see how you affect things, explore the preferences window, see what happens when you check/uncheck things if you can't figure out what they mean, etc., etc. 90% of what you learn will come from the forums and experimentation.

Bookmark and familiarize yourself as much as possible with titleformat_help.html in your foobar directory. This contains all the TAGZ code you need to know to write your own formatting strings. It might look very strange at first, but once you see some TAGZ strings "in action" it will begin to make sense, and you will refer to it constantly.

Any question you have as a beginner has probably already been asked and answered in the forums a half dozen times. Please search the forums thoroughly for an answer before posting your question.

Using Columns UI

It is best to start with Columns UI as your user interface; the TAGZ formatting needed is very basic and the panel extensions will make foobar much more user-friendly, resembling mp3 players you're more accustomed to.

Bookmark these sites before using Columns UI:

  • Columns UI thread: very large, but the first post contains links to important related sites
Panel Extensions

Installing panel extensions to Columns UI (such as albumart and track info) is simple; just copy the .dll into your foobar2000\components folder and restart foobar. To enable these panels, first you must enable Columns UI's sidebar. Check both "Enable sidebar" and "Show sidebar" in the "Columns UI" subgroup of the "Components" menu. To add a panel or toolbar to the sidebar, right-click on any gray area of the sidebar for a list of items you can add. A list of supported panels is given in the Columns UI thread of the foobar2000 forums.

Some popular extension panels include (in no particular order):

  • foo_uie_tabs Tabbed Panel Stack
    Allows multiple extension panels to be stacked in a tabbed interface.
  • foo_uie_albumart Album Art Panel
    Displays album art from images in a specified folder.
  • foo_uie_trackinfo Track Info Panel
    Displays information about the currently playing or selected track. Can be customised using TAGZ strings.

The trackinfo panel can be VERY helpful in teaching you how TAGZ strings behave. This panel updates in real-time as you edit its TAGZ-based configuration. It is recommended that you install and display this panel, using it as a "scratch pad" to help you become familiar with TAGZ.

To see what some people have done with Columns UI and panel extensions, check out the Foobar Gallery. If you see something you like, try to do it yourself. If you get stumped, the answer might be in the Tips & Tricks section below. For some ready-made Columns UI configurations go to this site. Download an .fcs file, and import it from the "Other" tab in the Columns UI preferences. Be sure to export your current config first to back it up in case you're not happy with the one you import.


The Masstager component is very handy when you need to edit many files' tags in the same way. A file's "tags" contain what is known as "meta-data": data about the data. Information about the file, such as artist, album, tracknumber, etc., are stored within the file in the form of tag fields. Maintaining accurate tags is a good habit to get into.

Some common tag fields are:

  • ALBUM ARTIST (for "Various Artists," etc.)
  • TITLE (track title)
  • DATE

To see which tags are contained within a particular file, right-click on that file in the playlist and click "Properties."

To perform relatively complex operations on the tags of a group of files, highlight those files in the playlist and click "Components > Masstagger." The "Actions to perform" pane lists the actions that will be performed on the list of "Files to process" when the "Run" button is clicked. To add an action to perform, click the "Add" button.

A common action to perform is to set some field to a given value. For example, to set the GENRE tag for all selected files to "Rock," choose "Set value..." from the "Select action type" window. In the "Field name" drop down list, choose "GENRE," and in the "Field value" box, type "Rock" (without quotes). When you click "OK," the action will be listed in the "Actions to perform" pane. Click "Run" to perform these actions on the selected files.

Before clicking "OK," you may choose to save this group of actions (this "script") for easy retrieval later. Just type in a name for the script in the "Scripts" section below (in this case, something like "Set GENRE to 'Rock'"), and click "Save." Later, to retrieve the saved script, select it from the drop-down menu and click "Load."

Realistically, this would be more easily achieved by selecting the files to be processed in the playlist, right-clicking them and choosing "Properties," then editing the GENRE field in the "File Info" window. There are many more tag actions you can perform with Masstager, including guessing tags from filenames, and formatting tag fields based on other tag fields using TAGZ code. Experiment with these features to learn how to use them.

The Database

The Database keeps track of all the info for all the files you play in foobar. The Database is crucial for such things as the albumlist panel (included with Columns UI), the Extended Playlist Generator (included in the special installer), and other components. To enable the Database, check the "Database enabled" box in the "Database" section of Preferences. If you would like to add an entire directory of music, enter the directory in the "Restrict directories to:" box and click the "scan" button. Keeping this directory in the box will also prevent files in other directories from being added, so uncheck it if you will be adding files from other locations as well. Files are also added to the Database whenever they are added to a playlist.

Extended Playlist Generator

The Extended Playlist Generator can automatically create playlists based on criteria that you specify. The EPG requires that the Database is enabled. To access the EPG, click "Components > Extended Playlist Generator > Configure Playlist Query..."

For starters, try entering the name of an artist you know is in your database in the "Query:" box. Click "Run." The results will appear below. To create a playlist with these results, enter a name for the playlist in the "Playlist Name:" box and click the "Create Playlist" button. To save a query, click the "Save" button. It will be saved in the presets under the "Playlist Name" you specified. Once saved, a query can be recalled and its playlist regenerated by clicking "Components > Extended Playlist Generator > Generate Playlist..." in the menu toolbar.

Click the "Help" button in the EPG for help formatting queries. Try this simple query:

%date% GREATER 1979

This query will return all songs whose DATE tag is greater than 1979. Save this query as "The '80s, '90s, and today!" Queries that use tag fields like this require that the tag fields exist in the first place. Another reason to keep your tags ship-shape!

Basic TAGZ Commands

The text displayed in each column of Columns UI is defined by a string of TAGZ code, located in "Foobar 2000 > Preferences > Display > Columns UI > (Columns tab)"

The TAGZ code used for the "Artist" column is:


This code retrieves the ARTIST field stored in the file's tag, if it exists. The brackets [ ] around %artist% mean that the ARTIST field should only be shown if it exists in the file's tag. If there is no ARTIST field, nothing will be displayed; without the brackets, a question mark would be displayed.

Other fields, such as %__bitrate% and %_path%, are given in titleformat_help.html.

The TAGZ code used for the "Title" column is:


Knowing what you learned from analyzing [%artist%], and referring to titleformat_help.html, try to figure out what this TAGZ code will produce, and why it was written this way. You might also want to try creating columns that contain your own TAGZ strings. As always, titleformat_help.html is your best friend. Or if you've downloaded a ready-made Columns UI config, import that and study the TAGZ strings it uses.

More info on the "Columns" tab of Columns UI's settings can be found on this page of the Columns UI documentation.

Basic Color Codes

Click on the "Colour" tab within the "Columns" tab of the Columns UI preferences. It is empty. If you want to customize the colors used in a column, you would put the color codes here and check the "Use custom colour spec" box above.

Beneath the text box you will see a six-character alpha-number with a block character on either side of it:


This is what a color code looks like. To get a color code for a specific color, click on the "..." button, which will pop-up a pallette and return the color you choose in the same gray box.

The way you format colors is given by clicking the "Tools" button, then by clicking "String help." Concentrate on the first four items, which are required in every color code string:

text|selected text|background|selected background

For example, if I wanted my "Artist" column to display red text on white background when not selected, and yellow text on blue background when selected, I would use this format:

(red color code)|(yellow color code)|(white color code)|(blue color code)

The proper color code would then be:


Things to remember...

Look around. Play with stuff. Experiment. Right-click on something you've never right-clicked on before. Read the forums. Study titleformat_help.html. Have fun. Don't forget to listen to music.

Advanced Use

Tips & Tricks

Placing Panels Above the Playlist

To place panels above the playlist, check "List all toolbars" in the "Other" tab of the Columns UI preferences. When checked, right-clicking on the toolbar will give you the option of placing panels on the toolbar. If a panel appears "squashed," it is because it needs to have a minimum height set in its preferences. If the panel extension has no minimum height setting, you may place it in a panel stack, and set a minimum height via the panel stack options.

Handy Strings

"The Band" becomes "Band, The"

$if($strcmp($left(%artist%,4),The ),$right(%artist%,$sub($len(%artist%),4))', 'The,%artist%)

Format %tracknumber% as 01


External links

Official Site



Components / Plugins

  • case's Page: special installer, diskwriter components, etc.
  • kode's Page: components: file-formats, archive-support, OSD, shuffle (temporary mirror since the above host is down)
  • Messer's page: components: freedb-masstagger, streaming with save-function, etc.
  • Musicmusic's Page: components: textwriter, quicktag, custom sort, ui_columns, panels