How to Use MKVtools

Hopefully, most of the operations of MKVtools are fairly intuitive. If you enable Tool Tips in the preference window or the help menu, then you'll see useful contextual help for key operations. Here is a general guide.

Getting Started

  1. Launch MKVtools and open the file(s) you want to process. You can open files by either clicking the Open button, selecting “Open” from the file menu, or if you've registered the application, by dragging the file, or files to the table in the main window. The file you open must contain a video track.
  2. You should see a list of the media tracks contained in the video file as well as some information about each track. 
  3. (Registered Version Only) If you drag multiple files, MKVtools will display track information for the first file in the group. When you start the processing, every file in the group is added to the queue using the preset selections and preset settings you've defined in the presets area. Note, you will get a warning if either or both of the preset are set to "Manual".

The Main Window

The main window contains tabs for various types of processing. The following is available for all tab views.

  1. Track information for the file you have opened is displayed in the video information table. The leftmost column contains check boxes that are used to select the tracks that you want to process. Note, many functions in MKVtools will not be enabled until you have made appropriate track selections.
  2. Click on Add Tracks if you want to add tracks to the table. This will allow you include additional, non-video tracks to the processing. For example, you might have the subtitles for a video in an external file, that you want to hard-code into the video.
  3. Click on the "V", "A", or "S" buttons to toggle the selection of all video, audio or subtitle tracks.
  4. Click on Play to open an ffplay window to preview the tracks you've selected. This can be useful to identify the file's tracks in case the track information is not clear. You can also use this as a movie player.
  5. Click on Watch Folder to start the watch mode of MKVtools. See below for more details.
  6. The Presets area lets you select and define presets for both the selection of tracks for a video, and settings for the video. See below for more details. 

The Main Window - MKV Tab

This tab will give you more control in the creation of MKV files. Note, while MKVtools does a little bit of error checking and warning, you are free to make settings that will result in non-playable videos. So you do need to know a little bit about MKV video creation. 

If an option is not selectable, then it is either not needed, or you have made some incompatible selection that you need to change. For example, you can't create 5.1 audio if the original audio track is stereo. MKVtools will color text red to warn you against options it thinks are a bad idea.

  1. Use the video radio buttons to choose what you want done to the selected video tracks.
    1. Pass Thru will copy the video track to the new file.  This is a fairly quick process and is accomplished with no loss of quality.  This would be the preferred option as long as the video codec is compatible with MKV files, which turns out to be pretty much every codec out there.  
    2. If needed for perhaps hardware reasons, you can use either of the H264 re-encode options.  Depending on your computer, this can be time consuming.  The 2-pass will give better quality but will take twice as long. 
  2. The video bit rate and the horizontal resolution (in pixels) of the video is displayed for you. If you are not using pass thru for the video, then you can edit these values for the video you are creating. It is not a good idea to increase these values.
  3. Use the audio check boxes to choose what you want done to the selected audio track(s). If more than one audio track is selected, then use the track popup to choose the track you want to make selections for. Note that you may make multiple conversion selections for each track.
    1. Pass Thru will copy the audio track to the new file.  This is a very quick process and is accomplished with no loss of quality.
    2. AAC (2-Ch.) will re-encode the audio track into a 2-channel AAC audio. 
    3. AAC (5.1) and AC3 (5.1) will re-encode the audio into a 6-channel audio track. It should only be used if the original audio is 6-channels.
  4. The subtitles radio buttons will become enabled if you select a subtitle track.
    1. Burn “hard codes” the subtitles into the video track.  The subtitles are a permanent part of the video and can’t be turned on or off.  This requires the video to be re-encoded.
    2. Mux adds the subtitle track inside the MKV file. This does not require the re-encoding of the video track, and will give you subtitles that you can turn on and off, however, not all hardware devices will recognize these subtitles.
  5. You can also use the options in this tab to create a video from multiple files.
    1. The first file that you "open" must have the a video track. 
    2. Use the "Add Tracks" button to add more files to the track window, though keep in mind that each added file must contain only one none-video track.
  6. Click on Convert to start the conversion process. The file(s) will be added to the queue.
  7. If you have opened MKV videos, then the extract button will be enabled. This will extract the selected tracks as separate files. 

The Main Window - Edit Files Tab

This tab will allow manipulation of MKV videos at the file level. Note, the main table now displays a list of MKV files, not tracks. If multiple files have been dragged to MKVtools, then the selected edits will be applied to every file in the group.

  1. There are three ways that you can Segment MKV video(s). For each method, the original videos are maintained. The accuracy of the location of the cuts can vary greatly depending on the properties of the original video.
    1. If you choose Interval, then you specify a start time and an end time for the desired interval of video.
    2. If you choose Size, then the video is split into equal sized segments of the size you specified.
    3. If you choose Duration, then the video is split into segments of approximate equal time duration
  2. MKVtools can Join MKV files listed in the file table. Note that the more the properties of the files vary, the less likely it will be that results are satisfactory.

The Main Window - Presets

Presets are collections of predefined or user defined rules for automatically making either track selections and/or process settings. When a new video is opened, the currently selected presets are automatically applied to the video. To define your own preset, click the Edit button. The tool tips (turned on in the help menu) in the preset panels should help you with the options available to you.

Batch Mode (Registered Users Only)

If a group of files are dragged to MKVtools, then you must use the presets to tell MKVtools what selections and settings to apply. If either preset is Manual then the process will not be started. Once you start the process, the presets will be applied to every video in the group and the jobs will be added to the queue. 

Watch Mode (Registered Users Only)

Press the Watch Folder button to enter the watch mode. Note, this button is not selectable if either of the preset pop ups are set to Manual. The main window will be replaced by the watch mode window. Here you can define the folder that you want watched. Once defined, MKVtools periodically checks the content of the folder for videos that are added to it, and then adds the video(s) to the queue using the current presets. Click on the Stop Watching button to return to normal operations.

Some things to be aware of:

  • Only videos added to the folder after entering watch mode are processed.
  • MKVtools only checks the watch folder every few seconds, so there will be a small delay before the processing starts.
  • MKVtools monitors the size of files added to the watch folder. So if a large file is copied to the folder, or a video is being downloaded directly to the folder, MKVtools will wait until the file size remains constant before it starts to process the video. This adds to the delay that you will see before videos are processed. This may also be a problem if you have unreliable or slow internet connections, or you experience pauses in the downloading of files.
  • You can let MKVtools run in the background during watch mode.
  • Videos already in the queue, stay in the queue when you start Watch Mode. Videos added to the queue in Watch Mode, stay in the queue once you return to normal operations.

The Queue Drawer

  1. The Queue Drawer opens to display any completed, running or queued processes. It also shows the progress of the current job. 
  2. If you have registered MKVtools, then you can add more than one process to the queue at a time. Or you can add files to the queue in batches if you've dragged multiple files to MKVtools.  So you can load the queue and then let MKVtools run all night, Jobs will be handled in the order that they are entered in the queue.
  3. You can delete individual processes in the Queue Drawer by selecting the X button for a particular process.
  4. Click on Clear to delete all completed processes from the Queue Drawer.
  5. You can click on the Pause/Restart button to pause the processing. This can be helpful on slow computers when you temporarily need to focus the cpu on another task. 

Preferences Window

Your Username and Registration Code (if registered) are displayed at the top of the window.

  1. If you don't want to save the files produced by MKVtools at the same location as the original, then you can enter a new save folder/location.
  2. You have some general options that you can set.
    1. If Show Tool Tips is checked, then when you hold the cursor over certain elements of MKVtools, you will see a helpful description of the particular element.
    2. If Keep Log/Temp Files is checked then, the temporary files that are created during processing are not deleted. This can useful if you encounter an error during the processing of your file. The log files typically contain error messages. You can also use this to keep the track files that are created during some jobs.

The Ffplay Window

  1. The ffplay window is a full blown movie player. Here are some basic commands for controlling playback:
    1. Use the left/ right arrow keys, or the up/down arrow keys to skip forward and backwards in the video.
    2. The space bar toggles pauses and play.
    3. Command-F toggles full screen playback.
    4. Q or Esc will quit ffplay and return control to MKVtools.