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How to Catalog Your Movie Collection

Alphabetized movie collection

Even with so many movies available via streaming services, lots of people still collect hard copies of their favorite films. But as your collection grows, how do you keep track of them all?

From DVDs to Bluray discs, and even the occasional VHS tape, there are many reasons to catalog your collection. A catalog may come in handy for insurance purposes, but it also helps avoid buying the same movies you already own.

What to Record About Your Collection

You need more than just the name of the movies or TV shows you own; you want to be able to pinpoint some specific details. Those may include:

  • Special Edition: Is your version of the movie a special edition? Lots of movies come out with new versions that include special things not seen before on screen or previous releases.
  • Widescreen or Fullscreen: Is it a widescreen or fullscreen version? Do you prefer one over the other? These days many releases come with both options on one disc. Keeping track of this will allow you to upgrade to your preferred screen viewing choice, or prevent you from repurchasing the same one.
  • Remake: Hollywood is all about the remakes these days. Some movies even have more than one remake (like Stephen King’s Carrie). When you’re recording your collection, note if it the remake or original. Another thing that will make it easier to find movies in your list when you need to is to put the date of release for each version.

Organizing Your Collection

There are different ways to organize your collection, so there are also different ways to organize your catalog. Some people alphabetize all of their movies together, only breaking up VHS from DVD and Bluray. Others categorize, alphabetize, and even separate their Bluray discs from their regular DVD movies. While it’s entirely up to you, here are some tips to help make it easier to find the movies you’re looking for in your collection catalog.

Always Alphabetize

No matter how else you’re organizing the titles in your movie collection, you need to alphabetize. This is even more important than having the movies split into categories. It’s easier to find a title in a document if you can skim through the letters of the alphabet. Of course, with the right style of document, you may be able to use the find option to search for the title, or a word in the title, directly.

Consider Categories

You don’t have to split your movies into genres, though you can if you want to. However, it is helpful to separate them by platform, or at least separate VHS from DVD and Bluray. This depends on what you collect and what you prefer to collect. You might have a collection of VHS tapes but be working toward upgrading them all to Bluray or DVD. In this case, you may want to keep separate the style you prefer and the platform you’re trying to weed out of your collection.

If you do want to get more diverse in categorizing, you could consider the following:

  • Separate live action from animated (you may also want to separate anime from Western animation).
  • While you don’t have to put all of your movies in categories, if there is a genre you collect more than others, you may want to give it its own space.
  • Separate TV series from movies, as well as workout videos and music related videos (especially anything you may categorize by something other than a title, like workout videos by certain people).
  • You may collect movies with certain actors in them. In this case, you could make a special section of movies alphabetized under the stars name, but while still having the movies themselves saved in the master list based on the title.

Where to Record It

Now that you have ideas about how you want to catalog your movie collection, where are you going to punch it all in? There are plenty of options, from rolling your own spreadsheet to web-based services and apps.

Documents and Spreadsheets

From spreadsheets to basic Word documents, you can make a list that you can save online and off (with Google Drive or any cloud storage). This list is easy to print off, update no matter where you are (online or off, with a smartphone or tablet). On the upside, you have total control over the list and can customize it as much as you want. On the downside, entering all the data by hand—especially if you have a large collection—can be very time-consuming.

Web-Based Solutions

There are some websites available to allow you to catalog and even rate the movies you own. Not only that, but they give you the option to look up movies by actors and more. Years ago there were dozens of options to pick from. These days, the web-based solutions are a bit harder to come by since apps have taken over the niche.

That said, one of the best options out there (and going on two decades at that) is Collectorz.com. The service isn’t free (the web-based aspect of their service will run you $30 a year), but it is incredibly comprehensive and automated.


Don’t let the lack of web-based solutions throw you off; apps now fill the void left by the missing web services.

For Android users, Shelves is a great app for collecting the names of all of the movies you own, as well as cataloging everything from your wardrobe to your gadgets collection. If you want the same sophisticated search you get from Collectorz.com on your phone or tablet, you can get it for $15 (a one time purchase, not a yearly subscription) for both Android and iOS. Better yet, it even includes cross-device syncing so you can use your phone to scan the barcodes on the physical movies, but a tablet with a nice big screen to browse your collection.

However you decide to organize your collection, an accurate and up to date list is a great way to see what there is to watch, where there are holes in your collection, sort by actors or genres or—in the worst case scenario—show your insurance company what you lost in the event of theft or fire.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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