Chapters in audio files like m4a

So, based on my searching around the forums and wiki/FAQ, that support for exporting to formats like .m4a (MPEG4 Audio or MPEG4 Part 14) is not available yet. There’s lots I like about Audacity, cross-platform being one big part of it. But I’ve got a requirement for making chaptered audio files and in General, it looks like Garage Band does it, as does Sound Studio, but pretty much nothing else. Trying to find details about apps which might support this on the Windows has had me doing dozens of searches over the last few months without finding any programs which can actually do this.

Does anyone have any Windows apps which support exporting, preferably with bitrate selection, to .m4a with the internally supported bookmarks/chapters? Cross-platform would be the best.


You didn’t use the words: “I installed the FFMpeg software.” Did you? Audacity won’t do much without that. FFMpeg might very well support what you seek.

It’s in the download section along with “lame” and other software add-ons.


Sorry, yes, I did install FFMpeg, and perhaps I have simply not looked into the right place yet, but in Prefs/Libraries or other prefs areas, I don’t see much for config options for ffmpeg. When saving as an M4A, I only get the option for some kind of quality setting and other metadata info (which I think would be most useful within the Audacity project file for inclusion with any file format which accepts it), which I’m unclear how it relates to bitrate (or if it does at all), but no option to have the labels I’ve assigned within Audacity become chapters within the audio file.

Limited searching so far on ffmpeg, but I’ve not found not a whole lot. The ffmpeg documentation Metadata section suggests that it is possible to do this, but Audacity would have to pass the data to ffmpeg in order to accomplish it. It doesn’t appear this ability yet exists, though it was posted once that I could find, but that was almost two years ago now.

Thanks for the reply and the clarifying question.

Audiobook Maker appears to also support chapters.
One thing that these programs ll have in common is “Apple”, which is possibly something to do with iTunes chapter marks being an Apple format.

See also this post:

Google brings up these suggestions:
among many others.

I’ll have a look. Thanks! I did not want anyone to spend time paging through google results on my behalf, which is what i’ve been doing with little “luck.” I hope you didn’t spend too much time on that. I was really hoping that someone just had the answer already in their head.

True enough, though chapters are not an Apple thing, but part of the MPEG4 standard, so video files like MP4 containers with encoded video in a variety of formats like MP4, H.264 (whether encoded by x264 or other), etc., all support chapters which allows skipping directly to a part of video file. My query is about the exact same functionality, but in audio-only form, which, for some reason, is generally less supported or documented. It seems strange that there is an apparent “disconnect” when it comes to chaptering audio files as compared to video files.

Bookmarking and chapters are similar, but different, at least in my understanding. It seems a rather arbitrary thing that an app, such iTunes, will support bookmarking, which means resuming at the point where the playback was previously stopped, if it’s a .m4b file but not for an .m4a. The file encoding is, AFAIK, exactly the same.

Thanks again for your help.