Problem: I've got 2TB of videos, music, and images on my hard drives, and I've found my available tools to be too low-leverage on managing this anymore. Hence, I turn to the nice community of StackExchange to kindly recommend a local Media Browser application for windows: specifically, an app which allows:

  • thumbnailed preview of all videos & images
  • Automagically categorized based on all online, or within-file available meta-information
  • With a built-in search

To perform the following operations:

  • Preview a thumbnail on video files (similar to file explorer)
  • Display categorized lists of all media available locally on my drives
  • Channelsurf, similar to youtube: be able to start from one movie file, and have "similar" videos around it
  • Double-clicking on the file to start mplayer
  • typing the first 2-4 letters of the movie/image to instantly bring up the list of media with that part in it

While specifically not doing:

  • Anything that requires me to touch any of the files in any way shape or form whatsoever
  • Any upsale (I'm looking at you, windows 8 "personal videos"), advertising, or introduce any friction during interaction
  • Bringing up any browsers: solution must be windows-native, and responsive (<20ms results)

Specific things I've tried so far:

  • The closest thing I can wave towards "want" is apple's itunes and JRiver's media center; they both share the same weakness of not being able to use mplayer as playback engine
  • Banshee on windows is unable to show video previews, have multiple stability issues, and can't use mplayer for double-click
  • By touch do you mean manually editing? (that's what I think but just looking for confirmation) Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 1:06
  • Edit, tag, categorize; anything requiring manual input will introduce friction, which, when multiplied across several thousands of files, I can't afford to do. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 1:33
  • I'm sure that most will not require that but with most you will be able to improve them by doing so - slowly as you look at files would probably be limited friction yes? Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 2:17
  • No. It increases at a rate of 3-5 new video, and 1-3 albums per day at lower bound, upper bound is much higher. No to friction, just.... No. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 17:40
  • ah yes that is a lot. given that I totally understand not wanting to have to do anything manual at all. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 17:55

3 Answers 3


It may not fulfill all your requests but consider Adobe Bridge. Bridge can use all of the files' metadata for categorization, provide thumbnail previews of media, and comes with powerful search functionality. Double-clicking a file will cause it to launch in the default Windows application.

Bridge comes packaged with any other Adobe Creative Suite product. So Bridge isn't really free, but there are also no upsells. I also don't think you'll be able to "channelsurf." Bridge will show you all files that match certain search parameters, but won't organically recommend other "similar" media from your collection.



For this large amount of data, I would use XBMC. It might not totally meet all your requirements, but the value of this piece of software outweighs that. If you are really serious about your media, XBMC is the way to go.

XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OSX, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet.

Although it has to run as a separate application and really isn't "windows native", it still can organize and display almost all types of media files beautifully and virtually effortlessly.


  • Can preview pictures and video
  • Not sure about the categorization, but it does allow to download metadata from the internet for videos and have some cool visuals for some TV shows and movies
  • Built-in live search (so you type the first few letters and the search results appear)
  • Can locate, display and separate each media type (videos, music, and pictures) on your drive(s) and on network devices as well
  • I am unsure if you can select a video file and it will play in "mplayer" but it does have its own built-in media player
  • PVR abilities (watch and record live TV assuming you have the correct hardware)
  • Addons to extend your experience with XBMC
  • Skins (themes)
  • A web interface (sort of like a remote control)

Screenshots: (click to enlarge)

Main screen

Main screen

Movies with meta data

Movies with meta data

Pictures with thumbnails

Pictures with thumbnails

Take a look at their quick start guide on how to add files to your media library.

  • 1
    2 day trial with this: Massive overhead, very low utility:weight ratio. The windows-native criteria was very specific: you can not have <20 ms response rates in browser. So was mplayer: the built-in browser-based video playback capabilities are nowhere close to sufficient for scanning, seeking, and surfing purposes. No browsing across metadata. What this app has is shiny; what I'm looking for above is efficiency, and accessibility. Commented Jul 6, 2014 at 6:52

Smovault is a software that should work for you. It is free for personal use. It uses TMDb to download movie data like cast, crew, posters, etc and also provides movie recommendations based on your taste. It has a bulk import feature which requires folders to be named similar to a movie, which it then searches for correct movie match on TMDb. You search existing movies on your computer just like Googling it too! It does all of this in a user friendly manner.

[DISCLOSURE] - I am the developer of Smovault.

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