How to Use MP4tools

Hopefully, most of the operations of MP4tools 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 MP4tools 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, MP4tools 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 checkboxes that are used to select the tracks that you want to process. Note, many functions in MP4tools 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 MP4tools. 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 - MP4 Tab

This tab will give you more control in the creation of MP4 files. Note, while MP4tools 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 MP4 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. MP4tools will color text red to warn you against options it thinks are a bad idea.

  1. Select the target device for your video in the AVC Level popup button. Note, unlike with the presets, MP4tools will not set properties like the resolution appropriate for the selected device. That is for you to decide. It will however set the correct avc profile level for the file.
  2. 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 mp4 files (e.g., H264 or Mpeg4).  
    2. If the video codec is not H264 or Mpeg4, or if the result of a conversion is not playable on your selected hardware, then you’ll have to 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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. This would be the preferred option as long as the audio codec is AAC or, if for Apple TV, AC3.
    2. AAC (2-Ch.) will re-encode the audio track into a 2-channel AAC audio. This would be the preferred setting for iPhone/iPod and iPad, or if the original audio is 2-channels.
    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. If converting to AC3, it is recommended that you also include at least one AAC track.
  5. 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 MP4 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. Also, some types of subtitles (e.g., vobsub and pgs) are not text based and can't be muxed.
  6. 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.
  7. Click on Convert to start the conversion process. The file(s) will be added to the queue.
  8. If you have opened MP4/M4V 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 MP4 videos at the file level. Note, the main table now displays a list of MP4/M4V files, not tracks. If multiple files have been dragged to MP4tools, then the selected edits will be applied to every file in the group.

  1. There are two ways that you can Segment MP4 video(s). For both methods, 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 Time, 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.
  2. MP4tools can set the Pixel Aspect Ratio of MP4 video(s). This can be used to correct videos that are too "fat" or too "thin". You need to specify the width to height ratio. Note that this is not the same as the display aspect ration. It is a stretching of a video's normally square pixels. Not all software/hardware support this feature.
  3. MP4tools can Join MP4 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. 
  4. You can use MP4tools to edit the metadata of an group of MP4/M4V videos. See the sections below for more details.

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. Use the Best Guess options in the settings presets to have MP4tools use what it thinks are the best settings for the device you have selected. 

Batch Mode (Registered Users Only)

If a group of files are dragged to MP4tools, then you must use the presets to tell MP4tools 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, MP4tools 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.
  • MP4tools only checks the watch folder every few seconds, so there will be a small delay before the processing starts.
  • MP4tools 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, MP4tools 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 MP4tools 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 MP4tools, 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 MP4tools.  So you can load the queue and then let MP4tools 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 MP4tools at the same location as the original, then you can enter a new save folder/location.
  2. You have some general option that you can set.
    1. If Show Tool Tips is checked, then when you hold the cursor over certain elements of MP4tools, 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.
    3. If Optimize For Streaming is checked, then the moov atom is moved to the front of the file. This can be useful when streaming videos, though for something like the Apple TV, the difference is negligible. This does add to the processing time.
    4. If Add Metadata Padding is checked, then the free space is added to the moov atom which allows for metadata to be edited without having to to a complete rewrite of the file.

Metadata - Edit Window

  1. The files table lists the files that you opened in MP4tools. Click on the file for which you want to edit the metadata. 
  2. Use the text fields to edit/create metadata for the currently selected file.
  3. Use the "+" to add an image (poster/cover) to the video.
  4. Save to File writes all of the metadata to the files.
  5. Search will open a new window that you can use to search the internet for metadata and then transfer the search results back to the Metadata Edit window. Note that you can edit the transferred search results before saving to file.

Metadata - Search Window

  1. Use the radio buttons to select type of search - Movie or TV. If you click on the database banner, you will be taken the the website of the respective database.
  2. Searches are typically a two step process - first a rough search and then a detailed search. 
    1. Enter a title and then click Search to get an initial list of titles returned for your search request. 
    2. Select the search result you are interested in and then click the Details/Episodes button to get detailed metadata for your results. Double clicking on the initial search result is equivalent to the above.
  3. You must now "link" the result of interest to the file that you want the metadata associated with. You do this by clicking and dragging from the Gray anchor point in the search results table to the appropriate video in the file table. 
  4. You can fine tune which metadata to include by using the check boxes in the metadata table.
  5. Use the "+" button to find artwork for the current search result. The Add to All button will set the current artwork to the artwork of all of the search results. This can be handy for TV episodes.
  6. Replace All will transfer all of the metadata search results of the linked metadata to Metadata Edit window. All previous metadata in the Metadata Edit window will be overwritten (i.e., deleted). Note that this does not yet save any metadata to files. The Save to File button must be clicked to write to file.
  7. Update will update the to Metadata Edit window with the metadata search results of the linked metadata. Only non-empty metadata search results will be changed. Note that this does not yet save any metadata to files. The Save to File button must be clicked to write to file

The Ffplay Window

  1. The ffplay window is a 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 MP4tools.