adding labels/chapters to audiobooks

This may be on here already but I guess I’m searching for the wrong things to find it - if it is, just point me in the right direction (link) and push :wink:

I have an audiobook that is 14+hours long. no way am I ever going to listen to that in one go so I’d like to split it down into ‘chapters’ so I can listen to it in manageable parts
I’m thinking something easy like every 30 minutes as normally I listen to these when relaxing and often fall asleep during - at present I have to start from the beginning and normally fall asleep around the same place - would be easier if I could just skip to the last 30 minutes I remember and listen from there.

the file is in M4A format but can be imported into audacity OK. exporting as MP3 is fine
I’m not sure how to do the splitting - I believe I have to add labels and then export each as a file. playing each file in turn would play the whole audiobook.
I found a tut online, which I can’t find now, but it did not work - it was fine until I had to put in the length of the ‘chapter’ I wanted 30 minutes so entered 1800 (as you have to put it in in seconds) but it returned an error saying the length was longer than the actual file (file shows as 14h 40m 5.493s)

can anyone tell me how to do this correctly? I’m guessing there is no easy way to ‘look’ for big breaks in the files that could indicate a chapter break (I presume the actor reading it would break longer at a chapter than else where in the book), if not every 30 minutes is fine as I can cope re-listening to the last 30 minutes.

I have audacity 2.1.0 (I believe it was the .exe I installed) and windows 10. the file is m4a as I said but loads ok in audacity and plays. if the final file(s) are mp3 that is fine as I can also load them to the phone for portable listening on the go if needed. Once I get this working I can tackle the other 20 or so audiobook, might get that collection listened to finally



How sure are you that the works aren’t already broken up into chapters? ACX AudioBook has a file and length specification that seems to urge you to create audiobooks by the chapter. If you don’t do it that way, as you’re finding, there’s no convenient way to put down and take up an AudioBook later.


I copied converted a CD audiobook to MP3 once or twice. I just made several separate files (maybe 100). If you include a number (like a chapter number) in the file name, they will sort automatically and your player software can easily play them in sequence. There is also a “track” field in the ID3 and your player can sort & sequence according to the track number.

For example file names might look like this:

Chapter 01.1 A Dark and Stormy Night.mp3

There is a way of adding chapter markers to MP4 files, and apparently the iPod/iPhone can read them. But, separate MP3 (or MP4/AAC) files will work anywhere.

I cannot find anything that seems to mark chapters, it appears as one long file. if I Play it, stop it then try playing it again, it starts from the very beginning.

splitting the file into smaller files is fine - I’m just not sure how to do it. I found a tut once that said you set the time to your required length in seconds (so 30 minutes is 1800 seconds) but then got an error that the 1800 was longer than the actual file (not sure how as a 14 hour file would be a lot longer than 1800 seconds).

another one says to put labels in, but it ‘helpfully’ says to listen to the file and place the labels were they have breaks… thing is, if I listen to the file to place the labels then I’d have sat and listened to the 14 hour file and would have no reason to use the labels anyway - kind of a catch 22.


Are you playing it in Tunes? If you rename the M4A file to M4B extension, the file will restart playback from where you left off in iTunes, and I think on iPods/iPhones too. The file must be kept in the “Books” section in iTunes for automatic playback position recall to work.

Also, right-click > Get Info > Options tab in iTunes has a checkbox that lets you remember the playback position of any format (the box is grayed out for M4B files in “Books” because playback position is always remembered).

Note this is not chapter marks - just remembering last playback position.

Do you mean in Audacity? See Splitting a recording into separate tracks - Audacity Manual.

Do the chapters have longer breaks between them than between paragraphs? If so, use Silence Finder to add the labels at the chapter breaks.

If you then export multiple M4A files (one per chapter) you can use software called “Chapter & Verse” to build a proper M4B audio book with chapter marks. See How To Make M4B files - Librivox Wiki.

If you want the chapter marks in MP3 files then it is much harder.


Sorry Gale, just not had chance to get on here or audacity LOL

right, yes I’m using itunes for playback. might have to use an android player if I can find a decent one that a) works and b) will load on the crap android phone (the phone deletes all apps I put on but is happy to download it’s own stuff!!! - wish I could afford a new Iphone, they work!!) but back to audiobooks - I will use itunes as I have a apple tv as will, most likely use that to play. sadly if I fall asleep at night whilst listening to the file the remember playback position will not work as it will play right to the end so I’d need to listen to the whole thing again. I’d like to be able to go back to the last part I heard and resume play from there

splitting into smaller files, think I tried that at some point but for some reason it did not work - think audacity kept crashing (the audiobook is 14 hours long so a big file)
might have to give it a go again.

might try the silence finder as even if i end up with more ‘chapters’ that won’t really make a difference so long as I get them in the right order I guess