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How to Add Detailed Metadata to Ripped Movies in iTunes

Posted by Jim Tanous on March 6, 2016

When you buy a movie from the iTunes Store, it is displayed in your iTunes library with official artwork, plot summary, cast and crew information, and other relevant metadata.
itunes purchased movie metadata
When you import your own ripped DVDs and Blu-rays, however, you get quite a different experience. By default, movies manually imported into iTunes are displayed in the “Home Movies” category, and lack all metadata and artwork.
itunes ripped movie no metadata
Users can manually edit some metadata for imported movies, such as title, year, and artwork, but certain information — including plot summaries, cast and crew, and MPAA rating — can’t be edited by the user with the default iTunes interface. Thankfully, Mac users can add complete metadata to their ripped movies with help from a third party utility called Subler. Here’s how it works.
For this tip, we’ll be using an .m4v file ripped from the Star Trek Into Darkness DVD.
star trek into darkness bluray dvd
First, download Subler from the project’s website. The version used and displayed in the screenshots for this tip is 1.0.9. Unzip the downloaded file to reveal the Subler app, and double-click to launch it. Unlike most apps, Subler will simply appear in your Dock, and won’t display any windows or interface until we give it a file to process, so let’s move on to that step next.
subler dock icon
Locate the movie file to which you wish to add metadata. It must be a file that is compatible with iTunes — for example, a movie ripped with one of the Apple TV or iPad presets in Handbrake — and it can’t be protected with DRM. In other words, you can’t use Subler to modify the metadata of your purchased movies from the iTunes Store; it can only be used with files you encoded yourself or obtained from DRM-free sources.
If the movie you wish to modify is already in your iTunes library, delete it from your library by selecting it and pressing Delete on your keyboard. Make sure to save the original file, however, by choosing Keep File from the confirmation box. The reason for this removal step is that iTunes won’t automatically process or recognize the changes we make to a file’s metadata if it’s already in your library, so we need to remove the file from the library, make our changes, and then re-add it.
itunes delete keep file
With your ripped movie file ready in Finder, click, drag, and drop the file on the Subler icon in your Dock. A new window will appear showing the basic video and audio properties of the file.
subler import movie
If you wish, you can now manually add virtually any category of metadata to the file by clicking the plus icon in the lower-left corner of the window, but the Subler developers have added a helpful search feature that lets you instantly pull all relevant information and artwork for a file by searching for its name.
subler search movie
To match your ripped movie to an existing movie in the iTunes database, click the magnifying glass icon at the top-right of the Subler window. Subler will automatically perform a search based on the file’s name, but you can manually override that entry and perform a custom search for any movie title. To ensure best compatibility with iTunes, select iTunes Store from the source drop-down menu, and any movies that match your ripped file will appear in the list below. Select the correct entry and click Add.
subler movie metadata
You’ll be returned to the main Subler window and see that all relevant metadata is now displayed for the file. You can leave the data as-is and get the same experience as the official iTunes purchase, or your can edit and tweak the information to suit your preferences. Also be sure to check out the Artwork and Other Settings tabs if you want to use a custom movie poster image, modify the “media kind” category, or set HD flags where necessary (although this should be automatically set based on the file’s resolution).
When you’ve made all of your edits, use the keyboard shortcut Command-S to save the metadata to the original file itself (this is a crucial step; if you quit Subler without saving the metadata, none of your changes will be preserved). Alternatively, you can use the “Save As” function (Shift-Command-S) to create a new copy of the file with your added metadata, while preserving the original unaltered file.
itunes ripped movie metadata
Once your ripped movie file is saved, drag it to iTunes to add it to your library. Unlike before, the file should now show up in the “My Movies” section and display artwork and all of the same metadata as an official iTunes purchase. These changes to the file will also carry over to your iDevices when you sync the movie, and to the Apple TV if you use Home Sharing to access your Mac’s iTunes content.
Apple still puts up barriers between truly purchased iTunes content and your own personally ripped movies, but using Subler can give your personal movie collection a nice facelift and make browsing your iTunes library a much more aesthetically pleasing and informative process.
A final note: you may have noticed the presence of a “TV Episode” tab in the Subler screenshots. The steps described above can also be used to add detailed metadata to your personally ripped TV shows. Just select the TV Episode tab when searching for your file’s metadata, type the name of the show, and enter the season and episode numbers. Subler will do the rest!

7 thoughts on “How to Add Detailed Metadata to Ripped Movies in iTunes”

jpSQL Dude says:
That looks awesome, I want it! Unfortunately I only run Windows. Any idea how we might do this, here on The Dark Side?? 🙂
Reply
Nicholas Shambro says:
My Apple TV has a new update and now shows my Subler movies with most of the same info (metadata) as my ITunes purchased movies.
I’m trying to figure out how to add the cast pictures my Apple TV displays in round circles.
Each star has some info associated with it plus a picture of the star.
The movies I have converted with Subler replace the picture with gray initials but they are still links that can be selected to see what other movies the star has appeared in.
I don’t know where to load the star picture data but Ill keep experimenting.
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Bruce Grubb says:
Great tool but I am having a strange problem. I am trying to edit the meta data of a 265 mg (i.e UNDER 1 GB) and I keep getting this “The file is bigger than 4GB, but it was created with a 32bit data chunk offset” error even when I follow the save with 64bit offset option as recommended.
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muttkat1 . says:
Works great! Only problem is ONE video at a time and I have over 1000. Still looking for a good metadata batch program.
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Joseph Sayegh says:
Subler has a batch tool. Open the app, then click Window and Show Queue. Drag and drop your files. Click the cog icon to configure your settings. Once done, click the play button in the top right corner to process the queue.
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Noel says:
Thanks Joseph – followed your instructions.I have my files in the queue,but clicking the play button does nothing and I can’t seem to progress any further – have I missed something ?
Thanks for your help
Noel.
Joseph Sayegh says:
Hi Noel, are your files in the mp4/mkv format? If they’re not, subler won’t be able to add metadata to them. Subler only supports H.264 streams.
Chip Sifnotis says:
so i tried to batch as well and didn’t get any metadata. it just copied all the files to the new destination… unless i have to wait for all the batch to complete?
Noel says:
I agree with Ven Lapp – great replacement for Identify. The movie option works fine in iTunes and on Apple Tv,however,I seem to be having a problem with tv shows.They code correctly in Subler and when I drag the shows to iTunes, they all look ok.However,the problem occurs when I play in iTunes, all I get is the audio, no vid.As well,they haven’t appeared in my tv folder in Apple tv ?
Help.
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Ven Lapp says:
You don’t have to delete the movie in iTunes. Drag the movie to Subler, update the tags, save and close. If you get info in iTunes, you’ll see that the movie has been updated. I had been using Identify and this is a great replacement for that discontinued app.
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crawdad62 says:
Thanks for the tip! Subler is awesome! Tried MetaZ and it was a mess trying to get it right. With Subler all my movies and tv shows look great while I view them with Infuse on my Apple TV.
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Dexter Adams says:
Couldn’t have said it better myself! Love this app!
Reply

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