HowTo: Adding DVD chapters to a movie you've put in iTunes


Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Oct 8, 2002
The Bamboo Forest
Okay so I wrote this whole thing up and found out that step 17 doesn't work. If I uncheck the enabled button on the text track it doesn't allow the chapters to work which makes sense but if I move the layer of the text track to layer 1 (putting the text track behind the movie) then the movie plays choppy! Ugggh... so I thought about not posting this but then I thought... hey... maybe somebody else can figure it out?

Read on but right now this isn't 100% there.


So... you've gotten your DVD compressed to a format that iTunes can read but you'd really like the chapters from your DVD in it? Well... you can.

I'm probably making this hard than it is or doing something stupid here but alas it works and so until somebody corrects me I'm just going to keep doing it this way. This was part reading Apple's tutorial on adding chapters in Quicktime 6 and a lot of trial and error. As a forewarning this method works but requires some repetitive figuring out to get it "perfect". This is intended to get people pointed in the right direction and not to get people a perfect answer.

Programs I used/you'll need
1. Quicktime Pro 7.x - need it, previous versions might work but I have 7.x. It has to be Pro
2. Handbrake or the like - some way to get the DVD to a nice little iTunes/iPod playable file
3. iTunes 7.0 - May work under iTunes < 7.0 but I have 7.0

I'm not going to cover the usage of Handbrake. It's been discussed to death already. Just make sure iTunes can play it, your iPod can play it (if you desire), and Quicktime can play it. If Quicktime can't play it you can't add the chapters and if iTunes/iPod can't play it then what's the point? Also if your movies framerate is not a whole number you may encounter very minor issues but we can overcome those through trial/error. My ripped movie was 23.98 fps. That's what Handbrake said it was in...

Creating a list of chapters
1. Get a list of the chapters on the DVD. You can often find these in the DVD insert in the case, on Amazon, or in the movie chapter selection screen itself.

2. Type them in a text editor of your choosing. One chapter name per line. Try to keep them short otherwise the full thing won't display anyway. Make sure it is saved as plain text. We don't want any formatting or fonts or miscellaneous junk. In TextEdit the only way I know how to do this is to change the format to "Plain Text" in TextEdit preferences.

3. Save the file to a location. Your desktop is just fine. You can close the text editor.

Making A Text Movie
Now we're going to take your text file and make an exciting text movie. You can watch the chapters display on screen in stunning high definition! An ASCII movie at its finest.

4. Open your compressed movie in Quicktime Pro. This is the movie you extracted from the DVD. With the movie open in Quicktime click on "Window" then "Show Movie Info" on the Menu Bar. Apple+i brings this up as well.

5. Take note of the duration field and the FPS field. You need to know those numbers. If your FPS is not a whole number you will need to round to the nearest whole number.

6. Now in Quicktime Pro choose "File" and then "Open File...". Apple+o will work too. Select the text file you had just saved. You might think, "Open a text file in Quicktime? That's crazy!" I would reply, "So crazy it just might work."

7. Feel free to play your text movie. It's not terribly exciting as it simply displays a new chapter name every 2 seconds. Click "File" and then "Export" (Apple+e). Set the following options:

  • In the "Export" drop down change it to "Text to Text".
  • In the "Use" drop down change it to "Text With Descriptors".
  • Click on the "Options" button and make sure that the "Show Text, Descriptors, and Time" radio button is selected.
  • Select the "Movie" radio button.
  • In the text field, populate that with the FPS number you noted earlier. It must be a whole number so round if you have to.
  • Click "Ok" and then "Save".

8. Congratulations! You have made a text movie. Close Quicktime Pro. You'll need the duration of the actual movie in a second so be sure to note that.

Adding the timeline
Currently you have a movie with 2 seconds per chapter, no audio, and no real video. We're going to lengthen your text movie.

9. Open your text movie in a text editor. You'll see lots of {}'s and such.

10. Scroll down to the very bottom. There should be a line that looks like [00:00:40.00]. It might not be 40. My example just has 20 chapters, 2 seconds long each, that's 40 earth seconds. Change this last number to the length of the movie.

11. Now for the (not so much) fun part! You need to add the actual time that every single chapter starts. It will go:
[00:00:00.00] <--- time chapter starts
{textBox: 0, 0, 50, 160}My 1st chapter <- name of chapter
[00:05:32.21] <--- time next chapter starts
{textBox: 0, 0, 50, 160}My 2nd chapter <- name of chapter
[01:36:14.08] <--- time next chapter starts
{textBox: 0, 0, 50, 160}My last chapter <- name of chapter
[01:42:16.12] <--- end of movie

The time above the chapter is the time the chapter starts. I'll leave it up to you to figure out exactly when the chapter starts. I don't have any good ideas except try to find it on the internet or look at all of them in DVD Ideas welcome!

Essentially what you're doing is making a text movie as long as the actual movie with the chapter names being the movie.

12. When you're done, save the file. I will warn you right now... thus far I've been unable to get them to line up perfect but they are very close. I think it's because I only have the time and not the exact frame for the chapter, along with the FPS of my movie being 23.98 and my text movie being 24 FPS. That little bit of FPS difference adds up over many minutes. However you can go back and readjust by editing this file again and repeating this process.

Merging the two movies together
Almost done!

13. Open both your extracted DVD movie in Quicktime Pro and also your new text movie. If your text movie won't open in Quicktime Pro try opening it up again in your text editor and saving it with .txt on the end. It should open in Quicktime Pro but I had a problem one time and this fixed it.

14. Select your text movie then press Apple+A to select the whole movie. Then press Apple+C to copy the movie.

15. Select your extracted DVD movie and press Apple+A to select that whole movie. Then click "Edit" in the Menu Bar and choose "Add to Movie". The tutorials I read said to use "Add to Movie and Scale" but that caused some issues for me. You can choose "Add to Movie and Scale" if you want to find out what they were! Moving on!

16. Once you "Add to Movie" you should see one of your chapter names on the screen. It is essentially overlayed on your movie now. Sliding the scrub bar back and forth you will see the title in the upper left corner. How about we get rid of that? With the extracted DVD movie selected, choose "Window", "Show Movie Properties" (Apple+J). You should see a new window pop up with a "header" of sorts with the file name, a video track, a sound track, and a text track. You just added the text track.

17. Select the "Text Track" making sure not to click the "Enabled" check box off. If you did, turn it back on. Do the following:
  • In the "Other Settings" tab, change the "Chapters" drop down to "Text Track".
  • Check the check box for "Preload this track".
  • Uncheck the "Enabled" check box that I mentioned at the beginning of this step.
Close the properties window.

18. Next to the scrub bar you should now see a drop down with your titles in it. Click them to skip around in the movie. You'll probably notice they're a few frames off here and there. If you want to fix it, close the movie without saving, reedit the text movie in a text editor to adjust, and repeat to get here.

19. Click on "File" and then "Save as...". Save it under a different filename than the original and as a self-contained movie. I don't believe it changes the compression of the movie at all.

20. Once it is done writing the file, import it into iTunes like any other movie. The difference is now when you play the movie and mouse over the movie controls that overlay the movie, you should actually be able to change the chapters! Hopefully this will also work with iTV.

End Notes
I hope this tutorial was able to point people in the right direction but as I stated above, it's not without flaws. I mostly wanted to get this out here so people might be able to help and expand on this. This is by no means definitive.


Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Oct 8, 2002
The Bamboo Forest
Does anybody have any suggestions on how to fix the problem in step 17? I've been working on it for a few hours now and still have yet to get around it. So close!


macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2009
I worked it out!!

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to fix the problem in step 17? I've been working on it for a few hours now and still have yet to get around it. So close!

Instead of clicking on the "text reack" in "show movie properties" you click on the "video track" and click the drop down tap "chapters" and change it to "Text track" and do the same with the "sound track".

Then save it and it works how its supposed to