With iFlicks, you can manage your entire video collection through iTunes. iFlicks imports video files of almost any kind (.avi, .mpeg, .mkv, etc), tags them with all the meta data you could wish for and even converts videos into a different file type – but only if necessary!
The days of searching for files across drives and spending hours with conversion processes are finally over. In this review, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at how iFlicks makes managing your digital TV shows easy!
Obvious Questions & Getting Started
Now, some of you might ask: why do I need an extra app for importing my files to iTunes? Users with the pro version of QuickTime 7 can simply create a reference file manually and import that into iTunes. Or you could convert your files to a format that iTunes can handle more easily.
All of these arguments are completely valid and, of course, those are methods that work perfectly for the average iTunes user. But if you are a video junkie like me with an average of 68 TV shows and 860+ episodes plus 350+ movies (yes, I do have a life as well!), the manual approach is quite daunting. I for one have no intention of converting every episode to an mp4 or mov file and adding the metadata by hand. iFlicks is the elegant solution for automating the entire process.
Since iFlicks needs QuickTime to handle all the video files, you need to download and install Perian before you can use iFlicks properly. Perian adds native support for many different file types to QuickTime.
After that, it’s time to open iFlicks and you’ll be presented with the main window. It provides you instantly with all the options you need to manage your files: what to do with them, where to put them, edit and preview them and setting up rules for easier handling.
You can either add files via the bottom left button to iFlicks or – very conveniently – simply drag and drop them into the main window or over the dock icon. If you don’t even want to to that, just add a folder action to the folder you usually store videos in that you want to import. Upon installation, iFlicks adds a script for just this purpose.
The instant files are added, iFlicks plays out its greatest feature by starting to look up data for the videos on either themoviedb.org for movies or thetvdb.com for TV shows (if iFlicks can’t find any data on your files or is extremely slow, check those sites first, they are sometimes down).
All the information provided on these sites – actors, writers, release date, description, genre, cover art etc – is added automatically to your files. You can check the data for each file and of course you can edit it any way you want.
For the easiest way to import, you’d be good to go now, but it will pay off to take a closer look at some of iFlicks import settings before you hit ‘Start’.
Import Settings & Rules
As mentioned before, iFlicks does not need to convert your files in order to import them into iTunes. If you have a file that iTunes doesn’t natively understand, you can choose the option ‘Flatten to QuickTime movie’ from the Preset options and your .avi, .mkv, .mpg etc. file will be put into a container that is readable for QuickTime without the entire conversion process. That is especially useful with high definition MKV files, which retain their quality and are now accessible directly from within iTunes.
Through this import process, iFlicks is able to write all the acquired metadata directly into the file’s container so it will be displayed in your iTunes library and in FrontRow. The downside is that you can’t copy those files to your iPod or iPhone since they are still in their original format.
There are many other import options available to choose from, among them conversion options. The speed of conversions depends on the file and your hardware, with normal .avi files being converted with almost the same speed as Handbrake’s, while MKV files are converted extremely slowly (a limitation of QuickTime and not iFlicks).
iFlicks plays out it’s real strength when it comes to the use of rules, a feature that has been added only in the latest version. It allows you to set up rules for file handling based on a number of different characteristics as file type (movie, TV show), show name, season etc.
When iFlicks recognizes a file that you have set up a rule for it can, for example, automatically change the file name, art work, and move the file to a location you have previously specified. I have my huge library spread across four external hard drives and it’s incredibly convenient to not have to go looking for a specific folder every time I import a TV episode or movie; also, I like to add artwork of a specific size – 600x600px – so it will look correct in iTunes.
Adding Metadata to Already Imported Files
So, now that you may be considering giving iFlicks a try, you will have realized that you already have lots of files in iTunes that are not properly tagged. Do not fear, iFlicks has a script for that!
Open iTunes, select your video file to be tagged and then choose an option from the script menu. You can either convert files or update their metadata – automatically or through the iFlicks GUI. I recommend the latter option, as it gives you the opportunity to check if all the data is correct.
Things to Know
- If you are like me and store your files on separate hard drives, you don’t want your files moved into the default iTunes folder. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you must disable this option within iTunes. Go to the iTunes preferences, select advanced and remove the checkmark in front of “Copy Files to iTunes Media folder”
- iFlicks acquires all meta data from the two sites mentioned above. If, for some reason, no information for your video is found, it’s always good to check those sites first to make sure there is no naming conflict. The new Battlestar Galactica for example is only found if the show name is ‘Battlestar Galactica (2003)’.
- iFlicks recognizes automatically from the file name if the video is a movie or a TV show. In the unlikely case you have trouble, use one of the following naming schemes for your files prior to import: “Show.XXxYY.extension”, “Show/Season X/Y.extension” or “Show SeasonEpisode Episodename.extension”.
- As the developer let me know, the next bugfix release of iFlicks will support writing metadata directly into existing m4v, mp4 and mov files. If you import those files, they will no longer be put into an extra container, but simply tagged and copied. Already imported files can be easily updated.
- iFlicks looks up certain ID’s in the US iTunes store and adds them to your files. That makes it possible to have HD and SD version of the same video file as one entry in iTunes and also, once you log into your US iTunes account, Genius for TV shows and movies is supported.
For everyone with a big video collection and the desire to manage it easily through iTunes and browse it comfortably through FrontRow, iFlicks is the tool to go for. Through it’s automated processes and the use of rules, importing even a very large collection of files becomes almost a matter of simple drag and drop.
The short time needed to familiarize oneself with the application is nothing compared to the hours or days it would take to manually import and tag complete TV seasons or movie collections.