You're handy with BitTorrent, you've learned your way around Usenet and you have all kinds of files streaming onto your hard drive. Learn how to automatically unpack, rename, convert and otherwise make your media ready for viewing with these 10 helper apps.
Photo by saschaaa.
Note: Both BitTorrent and Usenet, referenced throughout this list, can be used to trade free media but have also been used to download copyright works. We leave the decision on how to best use download networks and come to an understanding of how content creators are compensated to the individual user.
10. Master Your Browser Downloading With DownThemAll And Automatic Save Folder
Sometimes, the things you want to download are available in plain sight on the open web, but not always easy to grab. That's where Firefox add-ons DownThemAll and Automatic Save Folder come into play. DownThemAll can grab anything and everything, or just very specific things, from any page on the web. Automatic Save Folder, on the other hand, knows that you want your MP3 files saved in Music, your AVI grabs in Video and everything else exactly where you want it. Chrome users, you've got a kinda-sorta equivalent in Download All. (Original post: Automatic Save Folder).
9. Skip The Waiting On File Sharing Sites With JDownloader
Files stashed on ad-supported file sharing services are not easy to get to, at least not the way they'd like you to get at them — through the website, with lots of clicks and wait periods. Free cross-platform app JDownloader makes downloading files from RapidShare, MegaUpload, MediaFire and most of the rest as organised and systematic as a BitTorrent queue. (Original post)
8. Clean Up Your Downloaded Music With TuneUp
Finding music on the internet seems relatively easy, compared with making all the artist, album, genre and other metadata match up and work right. If iTunes or Windows Media Player is where you stash a lot of multi-source music, you need to get into TuneUp. It's one of those apps that you can click and let it do its thing, and when you come back to your music, everything's properly named, capitalised, pinned with proper album art and generally looking like a real "library". It's free for the first 100 title clean-ups and 50 cover art fixes, then $US29.95 for purchase. (Original post)
7. Clean Out Your Old Downloads With Belvedere
Your files eventually end up in your music and video collections, but they also stick around in your downloads, on your desktop and sometimes scattered in the individual folders each app likes to use as its default. Keep an eye on those different spots and keep the tidy with Belvedere, an automated, rules-based file organiser written by our own Adam Pash. Adam also took the time to detail an example system with an auto-cleaning downloads folder, which you can adapt and tweak to your own habits. (Mac users, take a look at the not-free Hazel.)
6. Control Your Torrents From Anywhere With uTorrent's Web Interface
You might already know that uTorrent is by far our favourite BitTorrent tool. You might not know that its alpha releases and experimental "Falcon" client offered a web interface that can be accessed from pretty much any browser, desktop or phone. No need to run a dedicated service or link your dynamic home IP address to a domain name: Just log into your uTorrent account and you can add, pause and otherwise handle your downloads from the web. If nothing else, it gives you something to do when you run out of TV to watch at the in-laws. (Original post)
5. Manually Rename Your Files
Media centre applications may be able to identify your files, but if you're the type who's not happy until everything's in its proper place, you've got a friend in TVRename and The Renamer. They not only match your files to their media listings, but change the file names so that actual humans can identify them. (Read more: Automatically Organise Your Downloaded, *Ahem*, TV Shows, Set Up A Fully Automated Media Centre.)
4. Automate HandBrake Conversions With DropFolders
When it comes to converting videos and ripping DVDs for use in compatible formats or different devices, HandBrake is king. Want to make HandBrake automatically watch your folders for certain files and get them ready for your iPod touch, Android phone or other device? You could master its command line, or try DropFolders, a nifty app for Adobe's AIR platform that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. DropFolders quietly watches specific folders in the background for new goods. When it finds something, it automatically runs a preset conversion rule on the file and drops the results wherever you'd like. It's like having concierge service for your incoming files. (Original post)
3. BitTorrent New TV Episdodes Right After Air Time with TED
If you missed a show on live TV and it's not up on the official video sites, it won't do you much good to start downloading five minutes before they come over. Never miss another episode with ted, a free application for Windows and Mac that queues up and automatically downloads your shows of choice from your chosen BitTorrent sources. Adam's previously walked through an automated ted setup that gives you a kind of an unofficial season pass to your shows.
2. Grab New Usenet Stuff With Sick Beard
If the TED program is what makes BitTorrent seems as convenient as a personal TiVo, Sick Beard is its even more powerful counterpart for Usenet. The free Usenet download manager plugs right into your favourite Usenet forum and looks for only the newest episodes of the shows you want to keep tabs on, using TV show databases and show release times to make sure you're not constantly grabbing duplicates. There's some limited torrent support too, but Sick Beard is really the tool that makes Usenet usable. (Read more: How To Get Started With Usenet In Three Simple Steps).
1. Recognise And Organise Movies with Ember Media Manager
Why bother identifying the year, the director, the genre and the proper names of your TV and movie collection when that data's already sitting around the web? Ember Media Manager (EMM) runs through your files, "scrapes" the information it can from them, then matches them up with the web's best guesses. Depending on your settings, EMM then places the files in their properly named folders, and then automatically keeps tabs from then on. (Read More: Set Up A Fully Automated Media Centre, Turbo Charge Your New XBMC Installation)
What's the one app that makes your download life terribly easy? How do you clean up the files you've got, and only grab the files you need? Trade your tips in the comments.