Logo of movie collection manager UsherA movie collection manager exclusively for Mac users is Usher, produced by Many Tricks. It is the successor of yFlicks, a quite popular movie manager in the past. It claims to fulfill a wish of many movie collectors: “Wouldn’t it be great if there were a tool that could manage your videos and movies as well as Apple’s iTunes and iPhoto manage your music and your photographs? Now there is. Meet Usher, your personal movie assistant.” We had a look at Usher in this review.

Pricing model

Usher is sold for EUR 28 (~ USD 35). If you hold a copy of its predecessor, yFlicks, you can upgrade for USD 15.


After downloading the 4 MB file you, as usual on Macs, simply drag the Usher icon into the application folder, done.

Movie upload

Main screen of movie collection manager Usher

The main screen to work with movie collection manager Usher

To upload movies into Usher you drag folders containing your collection into the “movie” container of the file manager section in the application. You then have to go to each movie and manually trigger the meta-data lookup. The only data scraped is genres, cast, director and age rating, along with one cover image. This doesn’t seem too much, but apart from the average user rating and the plot, we didn’t really miss anything. The latter two should get fetched, though. Unfortunately only English titles are found, so you need to know the original title in case the movie is in a different language.

A better search algorithm would improve this feature a lot, as in almost all cases we had to manually modify the proposed search string, i.e. the file name, to yield any results.

Fetching meta data for your movies

Fetching meta data for your movies

Also, there is no distinction of different file types, that is, a downloaded movie folder containing screen shots, NFO files, samples and movie files would have all those files identified as “sub movies”. You need to remove those extra files from Usher, otherwise they will show up as “empty” movies.

Our sequence was to right click one file, ideally the movie itself, to scrape the meta-data (called “auto properties”) and then give our personal rating. Once we did this for our entire collection we finally went to the preset filter “Everything,” found in the playlist section, sorted the collection by ratings, selected all unrated elements and right-clicked to remove them from the library. This does only delete them from Usher and not from your hard disk. All in all, a little bit of work.

Another tiny little blemish is the missing concept of physical DVD and Blueray boxes. Anything that is not on your hard disk has to be “imported” by creating a dummy text file indicating the name of the movie.

Modifying your collection

Editing your movies in Usher

Editing your movies in Usher

The interface works very well. You intuitively add and remove  genres, for instance, if needed. The real strength however lies in the possibility to create your own categorization.

Usher comes with a concept of “tags” and “properties”. Tags are keywords used to categorize entries which can be used to denote that  you have “seen” the movie or that the source is a “DVD box”. Properties constitute a collection of related keywords, such as a “events” consisting of values like “Christmas”, “Birthdays”, “Parties” etc.

While this is not particularly useful for your movie collection, it offers a fantastic way for structuring any other type of video collection, like your private or family movies.


You can rate movies with up to five stars.


You can access your collection explicitly via the application on your Mac. There is no other way to get to your collection.

Browsing your collection

Movie collection carussel in Usher

Very nice looking interface to slide through your collection

To efficiently browse your collection you need to create so-called “smart playlists” in the playlist section of Usher. Those are simple filters in which you can use your tags and properties to drill down to your subset of interest.

Create a filter to drill down your collection by a click in Usher movie manager

Create a filter to drill down your collection by a click

Browsing your collection is visually appealing. Trackpad sliding and smooth visual transitions while scrolling remind you that you are operating a Mac application. However, make sure you remove the subsidiary files we have discussed above, because otherwise those nice transition effects are applied to a lot of empty grey squares.


There is a feature to suggest similar movies to the currently selected one, yet the suggestions are taken from movies within your very own collection, that is, the application doesn’t provide you with recommendations for new movies you may not have seen.

Share and compare

You cannot share your collection and you cannot compare it with other collections.


There is no possibility to export your collection nor can you import from any other format.

Additional features

You can integrate Usher with iTunes. If you have your media center built around that application – quite likely for a Mac user – this is definitely an advantage. In addition this also makes it easy to get your movies on your iPhone with just one click.

A problem Mac users have to face is movie codecs not being accepted. Usher provides a possibility to convert files to twenty different formats. However, be aware that there is no indication of progress while the conversion is taking place other than your Mac getting hot. Admittedly we did not try to convert all of our files, but only AVI formats. A great additional feature indeed!

Another feature worth mentioning is the possibility to download movies from platforms like Youtube or Vimeo. Install the bookmarklet (available in Usher’s main menu). Navigate to a Youtube video, click on the bookmark and let Usher download it for you. Categorize with your custom tags and properties and they are part of your “offline” collection. Nice feature. It’d be awesome if you could convert those downloads to mp3 files. That’d be a killer feature.


Even though the movie upload has a couple of small flaws, the overall impression is positive throughout. In particular Usher is a great tool if you deal with lots of private films or flicks you download from Youtube, e.g. for your collection of music videos. Here, the well implemented custom categorization comes into play.

If you are looking for an application to share, compare and discover movies, Usher won’t do it for you. Be also prepared to spend some time if you have to deal with very large movie collections, especially even more so if they include DVD or Blueray boxes.

However, at all times we had the feeling of operating a true Mac application, which makes up for the reduced functionality. It truly looks like it’s all one piece.