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How to add chapter markers

***There is an update to this post that you can read here:***

How to add chapter markers: an addendum

We all heard Steve say it. "There are some people who still want to make DVDs." Classic. Sometimes I wonder if Steve concurrently lives 5 years in the future through some sort of dimension-straddling thing. It would sure explain a lot.

His statement speaks volumes about why chapter markers are no longer a feature of iMovie. Not living five years in the future and still wanting to make chapter markers? Here's how.

In various discussion forums, people have pointed out that you can still add chapter markers in GarageBand. This does still work and the process will be covered in detail here, mostly because the majority of us never really needed it before.

First, the previous option to send an iMovie to GarageBand has changed quite a bit. There is no longer an option to send a movie straight to GarageBand. Instead, you need to send it to the Media Browser. That is a process covered in this post: How to send movies to the media browser. You will need to send your movie to the media browser before going to GarageBand, and can read about doing it on that post.

Warning! Once you send a movie to the media browser, you will no longer be able to quickly switch back to iMovie to make a quick edit. If you make a change, you will have to re-export your movie. Before you plan on doing chapter markers in GarageBand, you are better off finishing your movie first.

On to GarageBand
Once you have sent a movie to the Media Browser, you will be leaving iMovie for good, so go ahead and close it if you'd like. Launch GarageBand, and when it prompts you for what kind of project to create, create a new podcast episode. (If you have already worked in GarageBand before, it might open an old project when it launches. Just close that project and this window will appear.)

You will need to create a dedicated GarageBand project, which means you will need to name and save it somewhere before you can start working on it. This also means you will want to save this file at least until you have your DVD exactly as you like it. Luckily, there is no export process to move the movie from GarageBand to iDVD. You can jump back to GarageBand, adjust your chapter markers, and send it out to iDVD without waiting minutes for the movie to be re-encoded.

I'm in GarageBand. Now what?
Now that you are in GarageBand, you are ready to add the movie track to your timeline window and get to work. The Media Browser may not be showing right now. You can bring it up by clicking this button:

You can also get to the Media Browser by selecting "Show Media Browser" in the Control menu.

Once you are in it, select the Movies button, then open the iMovie part of your list. Your window will look something like this:

Selecting an iMovie project will show you a list of all the various qualities available for that project.

Because we are sending this to iDVD, choose the highest quality version of your movie. Drag it and drop it into your timeline right into the podcast track. Once you do, you will get this message:

Of course, you aren't doing a podcast, so changing the track to a movie track is no big deal. You will notice that a new audio track has appeared below the movie track. Don't get your hopes up that you can do some detailed audio editing. This track combines all of the audio into one. So unless you get excited by being able to mute all the sound, music, and anything else you added, this track will not do what you wanted.

Now that you have your track in place, you can begin adding chapters. The simplest way to to get the playhead where you want to add a chapter marker and hit the letter "p" on your keyboard. If you would rather click a button, make sure that you have the movie track selected in the timeline, which will give you this at the bottom of the window:

You won't see the red star, but you will see the button. With each added chapter marker, you will notice a yellow diamond at that point in the timeline above. To add another chapter, move the playhead again, hit "p" or click the button again. Rinse and repeat.

Working with chapter markers
Once you have created some chapter markers, you can change their names and their timing. Changing the name is important because those names will import into iDVD. (If you don't like a name, you can still change it in iDVD, but I think setting chapter names is easier to do here.) Setting the timing here is important because you can't simply drag a chapter marker in the timeline to change it. You have to enter the new time in manually. Click on the timecode and set the time you want. You also change the names by clicking on them.

Of course, you can always delete a chapter marker and add a new one in its place. To delete a chapter, highlight the entire chapter marker by clicking on it and press the delete key on your keyboard.

One other important point to make about chapter markers is that if you don't set a custom chapter marker at the very beginning, iDVD will add one for you automatically and will name it "Start". You can prevent this by setting a chapter at the very beginning or you can just delete that chapter once you get into iDVD.

Sending it to iDVD
This is the easiest part of your journey. Go to the Share menu and select "Send to iDVD."

iDVD will launch, automatically create a new DVD project, and place your movie and set up a chapter selection menu just like you used to see when you sent a movie there from iMovieHD.

As is always the case, please share if you have any suggestions, questions, or comments.

46 comments: to “ How to add chapter markers

  • Anonymous
    August 14, 2007 at 2:37 PM  

    Why don't you just set your chapter markers in iDVD 08? See Advanced -> Create Chapter Markers For Movie in iDVD

  • Aaron
    August 14, 2007 at 5:48 PM  

    You can use iDVD if you aren't particular about the timing of your chapters. Chapter markers set in iDVD can only be done at fixed intervals (ex. every two minutes).

    Using GarageBand allows you to set chapter markers at any point in a movie, irregardless of the time between individual chapters.

  • Kendall
    August 20, 2007 at 10:50 PM  

    I noticed you could send movies to GarageBand as well, another useful aspect of this is that you can adjust the volume arbitrarily moment to moment just as you could do in iMovie before. Of course in iMovie now you can adjust it clip by clip as well.

  • Al
    August 26, 2007 at 1:28 PM  

    If you do an export to iDVD it will create a new iDVD project. What if you want to burn multiple iMovie projects on the same DVD?
    Now I'm forced to use the time consuming export function of garageband.

  • Anonymous
    August 27, 2007 at 9:35 AM  

    I am glad I found this tip. Simple but works.

    One note though. I seem to loose a bit of quality with the DV I captured. It is slight but 3 people noticed it. Comparing the first DVD straight from iMovie to iDVD via Media Browser with auto chapters (by the way, the auto chapters at 5 min failed to work after the burn so I repeated it and then they did) and the second DVD that went Media Browser-->GB-->iDVD there is noticable loss of quality.

    I have Final Cut Expresss but have not gotten into learning it well enough to set up the proper codec settings and widescreen and work with the source in a way to maintain that quality. Maybe that path would hold quality better.

  • Rokkster
    August 27, 2007 at 3:37 PM  

    Aargh. Having followed this (great) chapter tip - I found that on re-opening the project (after saving and quitting) I would get the error message "unable to find tmpmov.mov - cancel/search" and ultimately the program would bomb. Not nice when you've been spending an entire day on a project to find it rendered useless! I went down this road twice before trying the following which worked much better.

    Do all as above (creating chapters in Garageband etc), except don't share to iDVD - instead Export to Disk. This does the same job it creates an actual file - not a temporary movie, and although I can't guarantee this - it might be a better quality file.

    Now, open your project and drag the new movie across and dump it on your menu.

    If you double click on this new menu item you will see that it takes you to an extras menu - which probably isn't what you wanted. But simply cut the 'play movie' and 'scene selection' links and paste these back in to your main menu. Delete the original menu item that appeared when you dragged your file in to the project (it's just a link to the extras page) - and after formatting you now have a movie with chapters.

    You can drag multiple movies in to achieve the same effect also.

    Most importantly, when you save the project you won't get the temporary movie issue that I had.

  • Aaron
    August 27, 2007 at 7:16 PM  

    @ Anon,

    If you have too many quality issues, you can try exporting to Quicktime as a DV Stream for each step of the way. (If you save the DV file in the "Movies" folder in your home folder, the file should show up in the Media Browser.) Plus, that seems to avoid the problems Rokkster described.

    However, I have read in the Apple support forums that some people have experienced slight reductions in quality with multiple exports to DV of the same movie. From what I read though, the two steps to get it from iMovie to GB, then from GB to iDVD, may not be enough to result in significant quality loss.

    Thanks for sharing that about sending to iDVD, Rokkster. It is a minor convenience to have the DVD project preloaded with your movie, so doing the DV export instead might be worth it.

  • Naseer
    August 27, 2007 at 10:46 PM  

    Thanks for this great tip. Following this procedure, I was able to get to a chapter indexed iDVD project just prior to burn. But when I preview it, my widescreen movie goes to standard squeeze (so everyone looks thinner). Is there some setting I'm missing? The main and scene selection screens are widescreen. And I get the gray borders vertically when the movie plays. Please help...

  • Aaron
    August 29, 2007 at 8:39 PM  


    First, make sure your project in iMovie is set to widescreen. You can check your project properties by selecting "Project Properties" from the File menu, or just press Command-J. Secondly, setting a DVD menu to widescreen will not have any effect on the your actual movie. They are processed separately.

    If changing your iMovie project to widescreen doesn't fix the DVD problem, you can try exporting it to quicktime instead of sharing it to the Media Browser. You can then drop the created quicktime file into iDVD and see if that works normally.

  • Anonymous
    September 1, 2007 at 7:14 PM  

    I went through the process and it worked fine except that I don't get the audio from my movie in idvd when I preview it. I get them menu song working fine so yes I have my volume off mute and the audio works in garageband and in imovie. Any ideas?

  • Anonymous
    September 4, 2007 at 2:15 AM  

    I am really concerned about the missing chapter funtions in iMovie and iDVD 08. I think I'll gonna use a Windows PC where all freeware can do more that iMovie and iDVD from iLive'08. This lack of functionallity is really embarrassing for all former Apple products. :-(

  • Roland
    September 4, 2007 at 6:31 AM  

    Thanks for the very interessting hint how to chapter with GB. This leads only to "tiny" problems:
    - Native PAL format (768x576) is no longer available after change into podcast videostream.
    - due to that, iDVD needs 3..4 times longer for rendering a PAL DVD as when exporting from iMovie06 -> iDVD.
    - creating a DVD img, iDVD crashed quite often. Hint from me: better create a VIDEO_TS folder.
    - iMovie08 offers not the opportunity to work frame exact, eg. like when cutting a clip at timeline like in iMovie06 selecting the exact frame with the arrow keys and and then cutting by +T.
    So I still keep on working with iMovie06. Unfortunately with this lack of important functions I may not use the advantages of iMovie08.
    This are only the most worse items from my point of view. Too bad about iMovie08. :-(

  • Anonymous
    September 24, 2007 at 10:17 PM  

    Like the Sept. 1 comment by "anonymous", I too went from iMovie08 to GarageBand via Media Browser shared to iDVD. Result: no sound track. I've seen no further announcements about this fatal flaw.

  • Anonymous
    October 1, 2007 at 3:29 PM  

    I am leaving this post in hopes that someone has the answer. I have the same problem as the two above where you lose all sound with the movie. Any solutions?

  • Bridget
    October 1, 2007 at 5:55 PM  

    Awesome blog, by the way.

    I've just barely started tinkering with iMovie 08.

    Does this work-around sound like it will, well, work?

    Couldn't you just create each chapter as its own "movie" in iMovie? Then, once you're in iDVD, drag each movie over and it will get its own main menu button. Maybe not the most thorough method, but at a glance, it seems like it would work.

  • Anonymous
    October 4, 2007 at 5:52 AM  

    I am also having the same issue. Once I have gone send to iDVD from GarageBand I loose the sound from the main movie file. Any ideas what we might be doing wrong as there obviously are some people are not having this issue.

  • Anonymous
    October 5, 2007 at 10:09 AM  

    I just tried the work around and it seems like an awful lot extra steps. I think it's easier to just export the iMovie 08 project and import it into 06. Which is also way too much work to achieve a basic function that any video editing package should have. I bought a Mac because I gave up on Pinnacle Studio on Windows because it was unstable. I had a 4 yr old PC, though, so I'm wondering if I should have just bought a newer PC and worked through all the problems with Pinnacle. The features of that inexpensive package completely blows away iMovie 08 or 06, for that matter.
    Job's comment is typical. "Gee Mr. Customer you're stupid if you do it your way. You need to drink the Kool Aid and do it my way. It's a much better way."
    My view of Apple is that the company is an idiot savant -- they do a few things unbelievably well but just basic needs, like chapter markers, goes missing because they just "don't get it"! I've been in the computer industry for over 20 years and I've watched time and again how Apple abandons it's customer base.
    I still love this machine because it does so many things so well. And iPhoto is just THE bomb. But dang it, guys! Finish off iMovie properly!

  • Anonymous
    October 6, 2007 at 6:13 PM  


    Yes that will work. However each time it reaches the end of a movie it returns to the menu. :-(

  • Anonymous
    October 16, 2007 at 9:31 PM  

    I prepare multi day cycling tour videos and the lack of an easy way to insert chapter markers to separate each day is a serious drawback that is sending me back to iMovie HD 6.

    The workarounds are unacceptable, as is this lack of this important feature.

    Too bad, I was starting to like iMovie 7, but luckily only wasted one day on it. 3M TA

  • Anonymous
    October 19, 2007 at 9:10 AM  

    Has anyone found any help for losing the sound from garage band to iDVD? I tried "send to iDVD" and "send to disk". Both ways, there is no sound. Any help?

  • Sid
    October 25, 2007 at 6:34 PM  

    For all you guys with audio problems - this problem occurs only on large files and is a documented apple issue. The workaround is turning off normalization of audio in GB.

  • Anonymous
    October 28, 2007 at 9:22 PM  

    I don't know if it is a bug or not, but when I use the chapter marker function in iDVD, it works fine when I test it in iDVD, but when I burn it onto a DVD, and play the DVD, the chapters don't work!

    Has anyone experienced this as well? Are there any solutions to this?

  • Aaron
    October 29, 2007 at 7:49 AM  

    @ Sid,

    Thank you for your help! I haven't experienced the bug, so can anyone else post to confirm Sid's fix? That would be really great.

    As for the issue with the chapters not showing up, I find that happens if I am not creating a new GB project for the movie I am exporting to iDVD. When I have used the same project more than once, by deleting the old movie and inserting the new one, chapter markers stopped working in iDVD for me as well.

  • Kimberly
    November 3, 2007 at 8:23 AM  

    I found this at a very critical time and it has helped immensely -- you have no idea!

    I'm so mad at my beloved Apple right now for not making iMovie '08 what it should have been. Your tips and advice help compensate for what is lacking.

  • Baz
    December 27, 2007 at 5:37 AM  

    Great ideas everyone and thanks for getting me thinking.
    Previously somebody suggested using the Advance menu in iMovie08 - I think the suggestion was towards using the Advance Menu in iDVD where you can add chapters to your movie.
    Click on the Map view of the DVD project and click on your movie. [remember to save before starting this process and save at every point of success or go to jail, do not pass go, etc, etc]
    Select add chapters in the Advance Menu (or what ever is says to be precise - you'll see it easily enough).
    Set it to chapter every 1 minute [in the pop-up dialogue box] and click OK
    Now you have 65 chapters - well I did!
    Working through each chapter selection page, delete the individual chapters you don't want and save when you are sure. (It was all so much easier in iMovie HD.)
    Back in Map view you can see the structure of your project and the individual remaining chapters.
    Working from the last to the start organising them in what ever way, 3, 4, 5, however many per selection page to the "front" of your project by dragging and dropping to page obviously in order. [At any time this may fail and you will need to resort back to the previously saved project - well it did for me]
    You will see a number of pages with an Attention/Warning triangle in the corner because they don't have any contents.
    Once you have organised your chapters by dragging and dropping into place, delete the empty chapter pages - did you save your project at each point of success?
    Right-Click/Control-Click the empty page and select Smart Delete. By doing this you don't break/delete content after this page. Repeat until you remove all the empty pages. [Command-Z will undo your previous 1 step if you delete the wrong page.]
    You may get an extra page between the "front" page and the first Chapter page - just Smart Delete to make sure your chapter pages are linked to the front page.

  • rao
    December 31, 2007 at 10:34 AM  

    Thanks for the tip!

    I tried using ilife 08 but ended up getting low frame rates on the final dvd...it must be low frame rates, cuz the videos is like choppy but just a little little bit but still noticeable, i mean you just cannot accept a dvd to play choppy videos right!

    I have made tons of dvd's (home movies) on ilife 06 and i was so damn happy with that.

    scenario : imported dv (mini dv) from a panasonic camcorder into imovie 08, worked fine, edited it, added titles etc. then exported or shared it as a large movie. Imported into garageband and created the chapters.

    a. sent the project to idvd 08 directly and burnt the dvd, but got choppy video.

    b. exported the garageband project and then dragged the video(with chapters of course) into idvd 08 and created a dvd but still the same result - choppy video.

    the video is like 50 mins long and i am really disappointed with ilife 08. I bought ilife 08 family pack!! oh well, can i get a ilife 06 free of cost from apple since i am not happy with ilife 08? if yes can i use both at the same time?


  • Anonymous
    January 11, 2008 at 5:37 AM  

    @ rao

    oh well, can i get a ilife 06 free of cost from apple since i am not happy with ilife 08? if yes can i use both at the same time?

    Don't know about iLife, but you can get iMovie HD 6 here.

    Unfortunately, you can't import iMovie 08 projects into iMovie HD 6. All the hard work you put in your '08 project would be lost.


  • Anonymous
    January 21, 2008 at 9:02 PM  

    Thanks for the guidance aaron. Followed your steps exactly and it worked just as you described.

    However, as others have mentioned I did notice the video quality was degraded in the process. Quite noticeably too. To the point that the product is not acceptable. After paying closer attention to the video in GB it looks like the loss is taking place between iMovie and the Media Browser and not in the GB to iDVD step.

    Of course I'm selecting only the large format for export each time. So anyone have a suggestion for how to maintain better quality?

    I noticed in another chat stream that someone got around this chapter issue using a program download called Metadata Hootenanny. Anyone here tried this?

    On a side note - why has apple not produced a patch for this glaring omission in the program yet?


  • Anonymous
    January 27, 2008 at 6:54 PM  

    HI All,
    Great comments on a lot of fronts. It led me to the solution I used. If all you want to so is add chapter marks just download Metadata Hootenanny - was way too easy and no quality loss.
    It's all I needed to do. Maybe when I have a few minutes I'll find out everything else this interesting metadata app can do with quicktime.

  • Rafal
    February 10, 2008 at 2:19 AM  

    The last comment speaks the truth. If you go about it using garage band, you're going to have to do some reencoding. You are better off getting metadata hootenanny and adding the chapters that way. You can just resave the file with ZERO quality loss, and bingo, you're set. Just got this working right now, and I'm so excited!

    And apple -- you suck, get some chapter markers in iLife 09.

  • Colin Mitchell
    March 27, 2008 at 9:54 AM  

    Unfortunately I found this blog too late and have done a ton of editing in iMovie! I created lots of movies which coincided with the chapters I wanted then dragged and dropped them into iDVD. As previously posted, works fine if you just want to watch it chapter by chapter. I'd like to try the more elegant solution of using Garageband to set chapter markers for the whole thing but it won't let me put more than one movie on the timeline. Is there any way, either in imovie or garageband, that I can combine all the little movies I've created into one big one I can then add chapter markers to?

  • Anonymous
    April 14, 2008 at 10:18 PM  

    After creating all my chapters and then attempting to send my 3.3GB movie to 'Send Movie to iDVD' I get a message saying 'Maximum file size of 2 GB exceeded - Please choose a shorter bounce time'. Does this mean that I have to go back to iMovie and make separate projects that are less than 2GB or is there a way of splitting the project in Garage Band into 2 seperate projects?

  • Anonymous
    April 14, 2008 at 10:25 PM  

    Just found my own answer re: exceeding 2GB apparently you have to go to the Garageband preferences and uncheck the auto normalize option for large files. In the process of sending it to iDVD at the moment - it appears to be working - fingers crossed.

  • Jaime Alba Cepero
    September 5, 2008 at 3:44 AM  

    Simply ... wow! Worked smoothly for me with a 7Gb. AVI file; no dropped frames, no audio loss, perfect authoring in iDVD (I guess I'm a lucky b****d anyway). Thanks a lot for the tip!

    PS: this MUST be a default feature in iMovie or iDVD.

  • ~B0i_$acHoKzzxzx~
    December 10, 2008 at 7:19 AM  

    thanks dude, you saved my life!! youre better than jesus!

  • Bryce
    December 10, 2008 at 4:57 PM  

    Jumping from iMovie/iDVD 03 to 08 was a huge interface change... thank you for the great walthru of the new workflow!!

  • Anonymous
    December 23, 2008 at 2:37 PM  

    Thank you SO MUCH!!!!!!! This was a GREAT help!

  • Anonymous
    January 5, 2009 at 9:34 AM  

    I tried Garageband to add chapters and it worked... but then the movie, which had comfortably fit on one DVD, no longer fit. Does adding chapters typically increase the movie size? Or did I make some other mistake somehow?

  • Anonymous
    January 7, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

    I chatted with a rep from Apple about the new iMovie 09... according to him, the Chapter marker feature is included, once again!

  • Anonymous
    April 10, 2009 at 6:14 AM  

    Kim said...
    Did anyone find a way to fix the choppy video. I am at my wits end...maybe I'll just buy 09.

    I created in iMovie 08, added chapters in garage band 08 and then sent to iDVD to burn, but the DVD jumps around and can't be watched.

    Help!!!!! (Please)

  • Anonymous
    June 1, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

    THANK YOU! I needed to create a dvd for my fourth grade class and this information saved me. Thank you for taking the time to post it.

  • Maggie May
    September 13, 2009 at 5:02 PM  

    Thank you so much for posting this. I was looking through manual after help menu after FAQs trying to figure out how to add exact chapter markers to my project, and I was about to go insane. This is SO RETARDED that we have to do this to add chapter markers! The old iMovie was SO MUCH BETTER!

    Thanks again!

  • monkeycoder
    December 22, 2009 at 4:13 PM  

    Your post here was a life saver... I'm still using '08 because I'm soon to buy a new Mac and didn't want to dump the $80 on iLife '09 when it's about to rev again anyway...

    After creating my whole movie (5 hours) and exporting it to iDVD I was baffled that I couldn't easily create chapter markers where I needed them to be... In fact, I lost another hour or so hunting around for the option... what a head scratcher... how can an app focused on creating DVD's not offer the ability to create custom chapter markers?!? That feature seems essential... very un-Apple like... and to offer only the ability to create them at preset intervals is actually insulting... who the hell needs that?

    Anyway, thanks for this rock solid method (which worked perfectly)... You pulled me out of the fire (I was making a Xmas gift).

  • Anna
    May 15, 2010 at 5:08 PM  

    Great tutorial! Thank you! Unfortunately iDVD isn't working for me because the PCM audio won't work on my dvd player. Has anyone tried this method with Toast 10 and did it work?

  • Jody
    December 22, 2010 at 2:46 AM  

    Thank you so much! I have been working on a video as a Christmas present and have been so frustrated with the downgrade I have experienced since "upgrading" to a newish iMac with iMovie 08. Your tutorial (and Garageband) saved me!

  • Anonymous
    October 9, 2011 at 7:52 AM  

    This has been the most helpful iMovie experience for me. THANK YOU!