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Video – Adding movie information (Metadata) to your MP4 or M4V

Video – Adding movie information (Metadata) to your MP4 or M4V
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Adding Metadata (additional information like: poster/cover image, chapter titles, movie synopsis, actors, etc) to an existing MP4 or M4V file is not a requirement. It does however make your MP4 or M4V shine when viewed on devices or programs that read the metadata.

You might have seen it when you bought a movie or music clip from iTunes: It has a nice little poster, with proper title and movie description, actors, proper chapter names, etc).

In this article I’ll show you how you can do this adding of metadata or “Tagging” yourself under MacOS X, Windows, and even Linux.




What is Metadata?

Metadata, or data about content, for a movie file like an MP4 or M4V, is information about the movie (data) stored in the file.
Are you confused yet?

OK how about this – a list of possible Metadata you could add to a movie file:

  • Proper Title
  • List of Actors, Director and Producer
  • Movie Release date
  • Rating
  • Genre(s)
  • A picture, poster or thumbnail of the movie
  • Chapter titles
  • etc.

 

You probably have seen it with music as well – where metadata is being used as well.

Adding Metadata to an MP4

As you might already know, an MP4 file is in fact a so called container that can contain multiple “files” (as a figure of speech). Audio, Video, Subtitles and a list of chapters. The same way we can add the so called Metadata – we just need the right tools for it.

Note : Other so called “container” files like AVI, WMV, MOV, WMV and MKV have comparable options to add metadata. Sometimes they do require a different applications to do this though.

Below a short list of possible tools, based on Operating System:

Before and After adding Metadata

Just an illustration (based on iTunes) what the difference with and without metadata can look like:

iTunes before MetaData ...

iTunes before MetaData …

iTunes After Metadata was added ...

iTunes After Metadata was added …


MacOS X – MetaZ

Although there appears to be a MetaX version for MacOS X as well, rumor is that it’s kind-a “dead”. Not sure if this is true but a remake of MetaX called MetaZ is the tool we’ll be using here. Alternatives are MetaMovie and iFlicks, neither of them are free but iFlicks does offer a trial version.

Unlike the Windows MetaX, MetaZ is only geared towards the tagging of MP4 (and M4V) files, maybe because AVI and WMV files are not commonly used on Mac’s. If you have AVI or WMV files laying around, consider converting them to MP4 or M4V.

We do offer MetaZ as a download, but as always we’d like to urge you to go to the MetaZ homepage and get the most recent version.

DOWNLOAD - MetaZ 

Platform: Mac OS X
Filename: MetaZ-1.0a13.zip
Version: 1.0a13
Size: 4.0 MiB
Date: July 27, 2013
 Download Now 

MetaZ comes in a ZIP file, so after download unzip the file first.
Move the extracted MetaZ file (see icon below) to your “Applications” folder.

Icon of the MetaZ application

Icon of the MetaZ application

Once installed, start MetaZ.

Start MetaZ and drop files in the "Files to Write" area

Start MetaZ and drop files in the “Files to Write” area

Adding files is easy: either press COMMAND + O to select files, or drag the file(s) to the “Files to write” list on the right side of the MetaZ window (as illustrated above) or drop the files on the MetaZ icon in the dock.

Next click the file (on the right) that you’d like to work on. MetaZ will use the filename as a guess to what the title of the movie could be, which you can see in the “Search” box. There you can correct the title to search for (press Enter to start the search). A partial of the title will work as well, but keep in mind that the partial is not too generic. For example just “Star Trek” will produce quite a long list.

Double click the best matching title in the list under the search box.

MetaZ will no pre-populate the fields with the information it found on the Internet (using tagChimptheMovieDB and others). Click through the different tabs, “Info”, “Video”, “Sorting”, “Advanced” and “Chapters” to verify the information. pretty cool though, there is a nice little poster of the DVD and the chapters even have titles.

MetaZ - Retrieved Movie information

MetaZ – Retrieved Movie information

Once you’re satisfied with the found information, make sure the  checkmarks next to the boxes (especially on the “Info”, “Video” and “Chapters”) are checked!

Finally click the “Write” icon to write the metadata to your movie file. On my computer, a 1.3 Gb M4V file took 4 seconds to write.

Note : MetaZ does have the ability to work with a Queue and the ability to write all movies (that are in the “Files to Write” list) at once.


Windows – MetaX

All though MetaX is not free ($9.95), and maybe not even the prettiest tool out there, but it does what it does very well. You can download a trial version first (highly recommended).
I used a trial version for this article as I work primarily on a Mac.

As usual, we try to offer the download straight from our website, but we strongly suggest that you visit the MetaX homepage to get the most recent version! The download we offer here is only a trial version!

DOWNLOAD - MetaX (Trial) 

Platform: Windows
Filename: MetaXSetup.exe
Version: 2.34A
Size: 2.6 MiB
Date: July 27, 2013
 Download Now 

MetaX is not limited to MP4 and M4V when it comes to adding metadata. I also supports MOV, MKV, WMV and AVI. Also keep in mind that MetaX retrieves it’s data from movie information sources like theMovieDB, theTVDB, tagChimpAmazon and more which is going to save you a lot of work.

Download and install MetaX and finally start MetaZ.

Crashing? 

MetaX used to have a bug that causes it to crash if you have Microsoft Groove or Sharepoint installed.
Uninstall those features of Microsoft Office, if you run into this issue, and MetaX will work fine.

MetaX - Open a File

MetaX – Open a File

Click the blue folder in the upper left corner to open a file dialog. In the file dialog select your movie file and click “Open“.

MetaX will now guess the name (shown in the “Search” box) of the movie based on the filename. Correct the title if needed and click the “Search” button which (hopefully) will produce a list of results MetaX found at it’s several sources on the Internet.

If the list remains empty:
Check the title in the search box for typos and other mishaps – you can also just enter a part of the title. Similar named titles will now also appear in the list, so be careful what you enter. For example the phrase “Star Trek” would generate a ginormous list of “matching” titles.

MetaX found my movie!

MetaX found my movie!

From this list, click the title you think matches best. In my case it’s the rip of my DVD, so I would pick the DVD version from this list. Once clicked you will see that MetaX in no time retrieves and displays the information it found:

MetaX - Retrieved Movie information

MetaX – Retrieved Movie information

When flipping through the tabs “Info”, “Video”, “Advanced”, “Sorting” and “Chapters”, you will notice that everything is filled in with info MetaX found – even the chapters have titles now and a picture of the DVD box is there as well. Cool beans!

Verify the information and correct if needed.

The next step is to add this movie to the “Queue” – this Queue is being processed in the background while you can keep working on the next movie.

Click the big red arrow to add this file to the Queue.

MetaX - Add the movie to the Queue

MetaX – Add the movie to the Queue

Now repeat these steps for as many movies as you’d like to add metadata to.

A movie in the queue that was completed will appear as such (watch the checkbox before the movie title):

MetaX file in the queue - done!

MetaX file in the queue – done!

And that’s all there is to it.

Note : Alternatively you could give the free Microsoft Media Player build-in tools or free Zune tools a chance. There are quite a few tools to be found when you google it that are darn good as well like Media Center Master, etc.


Linux – VLC

Finding a tool to easily add metadata using a GUI application to an MP4 under Linux has proven to be quite challenging – let alone find the data online and automatically tag video files. There are some tools out there that are command line based, like AtomicParsley, but that’s not what I’d want to use for this purpose.

Options:

  • EasyTag is more geared towards audio files but does allow you to manually edit certain metadata of MP4 file – but NOT M4V (so rename the M4V to MP4).
  • VideoLan VLC Media Player also allows manual editing of metadata.

 

Since neither options are “automated”, I’d recommend using VLC (VLC can do this under Windows and MacOS X as well).
Installation of VLC is straight forward using APT (Ubuntu users: install VLC through the Software Center).


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sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install vlc browser-plugin-vlc

Start playback of your movie in VLC and click from the menu “Tools”  “Media Information” (or press CTRL + i).

VLC - Access metadata

VLC – Access metadata

A window will open showing the metadata of the file you’re playing.

In this window (under the “General” tab) you can edit a few metadata tags. Once done editing the fields click the “Save Metadata” button.

Note :
In the example below you see a thumbnail image (in the lower right corner), when you right click it, it will show a “Download Cover Art” option. Frankly: I have no idea what it does. I do know that Copy/Paste and dragging an image on that picture does not seem to do anything.

VLC - Edit metadata and save it

VLC – Edit metadata and save it

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Comments


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  • Sep 6, 2014 - 5:46 AM - guesz Comment Link

    Mp3tag v2.63

    (http://www.mp3tag.de/en/download.html)

    does the job under Windows even for mp4s. Don’t be fooled by its name.

    Reply

    guesz

    • Sep 8, 2014 - 5:16 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Thanks for the tip Guesz! 

      Reply

      hans

    • Feb 27, 2016 - 5:41 AM - Tom Comment Link

      This no longer works at least not for AVI file containers.

      Reply

      Tom

      • Feb 28, 2016 - 5:39 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

        Thanks Tom for the heads up … first of all; the intend is to use these tools with MP4 of M4V files.
        However, since others might try AVI’s as well: which tool did you try that failed?

        Reply

        hans

    • Aug 5, 2017 - 1:10 PM - Tony Comment Link

      Have you tested this on a mp4 video file? This looks like for Audio only.

      Reply

      Tony

      • Aug 12, 2017 - 4:12 PM - hans - Author: Comment Link

        Hi Tony,

        I’m not a Windows user (just for work), but you’re probably right that this is only targeted at audio.
        Then again; grab a small MP4 video file, copy it first of course, and give it a try.
        By the best of my knowledge MP4, M4A, M4V … they all use the [almost] same container format, so if MP4 [audio] is supported then it would not surprise me if MP4 video works as well.

        Reply

        hans

  • Oct 13, 2014 - 1:37 AM - Paul Comment Link

    I have a Mac (running Mavericks). I download movies and transfer them to a portable hard drive, which I use to play them on my Samsung TV. Is there any method that I can use that will allow me to see a synopsis of the movies prior to playing them?

    I tried metaZ but I couldn’t see the synopsis at all.

    Reply

    Paul

    • Oct 13, 2014 - 3:38 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Hi Paul,

      I have a 2 year old Samsung TV available for testing, but didn’t see any support for displaying synopsis (or any meta dat).

      I’m curious though if and how we can get that to work. Same for subtitle support (if that even exists – it suggests it does, but it does not seem to pick up the usual file formats or embedded subtitles).

      I’ll do some experimenting as well. Let me know if you find something useful as well please .

      Reply

      hans

    • Oct 13, 2014 - 4:12 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      I’m testing things on my mom’s 2 year old Samsung EU40D5000 LED TV, and first thing missing is of course the USB WiFi Dongle (ordered one right away).

      Next thing I’ve noticed is that it does recognize, from a USB HDD drive, quite a lot of video format and playback works great (tried some random AVI, MP4, MPG and MKV files). According to the manual it should even work with SRT files, but so far this is not working.

      As for displaying Meta Data: Are you using something special, or maybe you have a newer TV,…? The TV I’m using is not showing ANY meta info.

      Reply

      hans

  • Jul 7, 2015 - 2:08 PM - Npm Comment Link

    Sorry I ever read this, cause I downloaded MetaX and after following tutorials, I attempted one file (MP4 and m4v). Unfortunately the program embedded the same cover art to all of my movies and now I can’t figure out how to remove it. Any insight would be appreciated.

    Reply

    Npm

    • Jul 8, 2015 - 3:54 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Hi NPM,

      I’m sorry to hear things turned out messy. Unfortunately, I’m in the middle of moving from the US to Europe so I have very little time and have limited access to my stuff right now. I’ll add this to my to-do list when I have access to my stuff again and will try to get back to you.

      Reply

      hans

    • Oct 1, 2015 - 3:41 AM - RGX Comment Link

      Hey NPM,

      If you’re still lurking, use the free MP3Tag mentioned in the first comment to straighten out that mess with the cover images. It’s a great program.

      Reply

      RGX

  • Oct 12, 2015 - 4:00 PM - Jim Comment Link

    After you’ve made all your meta data selections and click Write, the software starts, but where is the file that now includes all the meta data located?

    Reply

    Jim

    • Oct 13, 2015 - 3:36 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Depending on the application you’re using, it might save it in the original file. 

      Reply

      hans

  • May 29, 2017 - 1:54 AM Comment Link
    PingBack: filmlifestyle.com

    […] Transcription is just one service, but many areas can also be covered by the same business. These include close captioning, translation, subtitling and creating meta data lists. […]

  • Aug 27, 2017 - 7:43 AM - Steve Comment Link

    Another great option is to use Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate. They have an option button that looks like the letter I that will do much the same thing. It happens to cost more than this program but it also rips DVD’s and can create various media types.

    Reply

    Steve

    • Aug 29, 2017 - 4:26 PM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Hi Steve,

      Wondershare does have some interesting product. Unfortunately, they seem to be OK with sending out spam and place unwanted adds on random websites. This gifs me a little sketchy feeling about the company as such. This does not mean that their product is no good – I have tested a few of their products and they seem to work just fine.

      Thanks for the suggestion! 

      Reply

      hans



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