Tagging your mp4 and m4v files for iTunes is absolutely necessary if you want to be able to sort movies by title, production year, or search for a particular actor or director you may like. And if you’re like me and use Apple TV as your primary method of watching your iTunes video library, it’s even more important.Properly-tagged videos will show up with the DVD cover art (or movie poster if you prefer), a brief description about the movie, and even an MPAA rating, which is particularly useful for using the parental controls.
Other Benefits of Tagging Your Movies
Taking time to tag your movies provides several other benefits you may not have considered. For example, if you provide information for the “Genre” tag, you can sort your movies by Genres if you don’t know specifically what show you want to watch, but know you’re in the mood for a “Science Fiction” movie.
While you don’t need to tag your chapters with names in order to use chapters in Apple TV, having chapters tagged properly certainly helps if you want to find a particular scene quickly.
Tags can also embed information about the cast and production team, and MPAA ratings into the video file. Having ratings tagged in your movies can empower you to properly use the parental controls on Apple TV, which is a powerful and helpful feature if you have children.
Software Available for Tagging MP4/M4V Files on Mac
There are many software titles available for the Mac to help you tag your video files. Here are two worth using.
My favorite of all of the tagging utilities I’ve tried is MetaX. It has many powerful features, not the least of which is access to a database of user-contributed tags that you can see automatically and preview for help in tagging your file.
- Batch processing
- Lets users submit tag data to tagChimp, their online database of user-contributed tags
- Lets users search and preview tags from tagChimp and apply them to quickly fill in tag fields for a specific movie or tv show
- Built-in IMDb browser
- Built-in Movie Posters browser
- Can set up unlimited custom presets – critical when tagging multiple shows with similar information, like TV episodes from the same show
- Built-in Frame Grabber for creating a cover or art image from a frame of the video
- Allows for tagging of multiple files simultaneously with similar fields
- Queue up the files, editing them one or some at a time, then process them all when you’re ready
- Includes 64-bit support
- Built on Atomic Parsley, an open source project
- Easy to learn and use
- Some tags aren’t available for editing, like the HD flag or ContentID
- Not as tast as writing tags as Subler – although significantly faster than iTunes
- I’ve observed strange behavior if MetaX is left running for several days, but it immediately went away by relaunching the application.
Subler’s approach to tagging is more straightforward. You enter the data manually, and click Save. That’s it. It modifies all of the data that MetaX edits, and more. If you need to change artwork for a video file quickly, Subler is the best tool for the job.
- It’s incredibly fast. Subler will write out metadata (including images) in seconds. Faster than MetaX, and minutes faster than iTunes.
- Access to all known tags, many that MetaX doesn’t support, such as ContentID and the HD flag.
- Abilities go way beyond tagging – muxing video, audio, chapters, subtitles and closed caption tracks from mov, mp4 and mkv
- No batch processing; files are each opened up into their own window
Making Sense of it All
I don’t consider these two utilities as each uniquely capable of handling all of your tagging needs. On the contrary, I believe you’ll need them both, for different reasons. Here’s my process in a nutshell:
- I use MetaX to quickly fill in tag info from the tagChimp database. Usually I’m tagging several, if not dozens, of files in the same session.
- Before I write out the tags, I go back and make corrections. Rarely do the entries in the tagChimp database live up to my own standards. I’ll use the built-in IMDb Browser to quickly locate missing information.
- After writing out the files in MetaX, I’ll then drop any HD files into Subler to give them HD tags. If I’m making dual HD-SD versions of movies, I’ll do that in Subler also.
Coming soon: I’ll be writing about creating HD-SD tags and you’ll see why I can’t live without either of these two utilities!
Next in this series: Ripping Blu-Ray on Mac for iTunes and Apple TV.