The Video Metadata bible & Roundup

If you have ever purchased a movie (TV show etc.) from the iTunes Store, you may already have noticed it has some additional metadata (description, staff listing etc.) nicely rendered in the desktop iTunes:

(desktop iTunes, Men in Black. As with all the images in this article, click the thumbnail for the original, high-quality image.)

(desktop iTunes, The Karate Kid)

On the iPad, the summary is listed:

(iPad 3, The Karate Kid, iOS 5.1.1, jailbroken – this is why there's a “Bluetooth” button in the middle of the text)

While on the iPhone, the director only:

(iPhone 5, iOS 6.0.2, The Karate Kid)

Note that the iPad also lists the chapter list (only) here – see the second button on the top left, also annotated in the screenshot above. The chapter list is only available during playback on the iPhone via a dedicated icon (screenshot, with the icon annotated). Also note that the iPad doesn't display the name of the chapters, if any (screenshot), unlike the iPhone (screenshot).

1. Manually adding / modifying metadata

1.1 iTunes

If you already keep your videos in iTunes (and/or don't want to learn third-party apps like Subler or iFlicks – see below for more info on them), you can easily add metadata with iTunes. Just press Cmd + I after selecting the title. The first tab (“Summary”) doesn't have any editable content. An example of the above-shown Karate Kid movie, purchased from iTunes Store:

If you switch to other tabs, you can edit / add metadata. Here I show that of this movie:

(Info tab)

(Video tab)

(Artwork tab)

Just edit the fields you want to change and click "OK".

1.2 Subler

Should you want to avoid iTunes entirely (in this case, I wouldn't – Subler is far more awkward to use in this respect and can't work on protected videos like those of iTunes Store), you can also use the excellent all-in-one tool “Subler” to edit / add metadata:

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These shots show my adding all the available attributes (first shot) and an artwork, which is just a screenshot of a OS X app (second shot). The results of it can be seen in THIS example video. It's rendered by iTunes as follows:

2. Automatically finding and adding metadata

Some more advanced video tools allow for automatically(!) look up metadata for videos. Some examples:

2.1 iVI (Pro)

While, because of the definitely lower speed compared to the best in the category (most importantly, Subler), I don't use iVI for my no-MTS video remuxing / conversions (please see THIS and THIS for the why's / some true comparative benchmarks), I still need to say it has excellent metadata lookup functions.

The following screenshot shows the default metadata lookup settings of iVI:

As you can see, by default, it searches both The Movie DB and The TV DB.

2.2 Automated lookup with free apps

The thread HERE describes how you can use free(!!!) tools to automatically look up and add metadata to videos (look for the “iTunes Tagging” section).

2.3 Other apps worth mentioning

iFlicks (a converter I myself don't really use because of its lower speed) also has excellent metadata lookup capabilities.

3. Third-party iOS applications to show metadata

Unfortunately, only(!) the following third-party non-streaming (unlike, say, Plex) applications support displaying metadata:

VM Player (HD) (iPhone / iPad; both have lite versions)  


(iPhone 5)

To access this, tap the „i” icon in the top left corner; the „Metadata” section at the bottom lists everything textual (read: there won't be artwork).

viPlay (Lite):


Note that this player, as with several other players, has also been censored out from AppStore (how really-really pathetic, Dolby and Apple!); that is, you can't purchase it if you haven't already done so (original link):

(Genre / director / description are shown when tapping the file in the main file list)

None(!) of the following players, s of 19/Dec/2012, supports displaying any kind of metadata:

iMedia Player
VLC (AppStore + Cydia 1.1.1)
WMV Player
Falcon Player and Downloader Pro for iPad
HD Player Pro
Play Any Video Format - PlayerX HD
BUZZ Player HD
Movie Player – Plays any Video! by Dominic Rodemer
Azul Media Player - Video player for your iPad By Gplex
CineXPlayer – The best way to enjoy your Xvid movies by NXP Software B.V.
EC Player
Oplayer HD
Media Player PRO (was: Movie Player HD+)
all versions of MoliPlayer
ReplayerHD Pro

UPDATE (Jan/20/2013): posted a tutorial on using Subler's automatic metadata adding capabilties HERE.

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<p>Werner Ruotsalainen is an iOS and Java programming lecturer who is well-versed in programming, hacking, operating systems, and programming languages. Werner tries to generate unique articles on subjects not widely discussed. Some of his articles are highly technical and are intended for other programmers and coders.</p>
<p>Werner also is interested in photography and videography. He is a frequent contributor to not only mobile and computing publications, but also photo and video forums. He loves swimming, skiing, going to the gym, and using his iPads. English is one of several languages he speaks.</p>