Compressor 4: Create Chapter Markers

Posted on by Larry

[ To see how Compressor 4 works, check out this step-by-step video training. ]

One of the sorely missed features in Final Cut Pro X is the ability to create chapter markers. Chapter markers are not just for DVDs, they can also be built into a QuickTime movie that’s posted to the web. In fact, all my online training uses chapter markers. (Here’s an article that describes how to view chapter markers in both QuickTime X and QuickTime 7.)

However, while we can create chapter markers in Final Cut Pro 7, we can’t in FCP X. However,  we can in Compressor — both Compressor 3 and Compressor 4. Here’s how.


When your project is complete and ready to output, open the Project Library and select your Project. Exporting is always done from the Project Library, never the Timeline.

With the Project selected, choose Share > Send to Compressor. (This is faster than first exporting your movie as a self-contained QuickTime movie, and, depending upon the video format you are editing, has the potential to yield higher quality images.) If you have already created a master QuickTime file, simply import it into Compressor.

If Compressor is already running, your Project loads almost instantly.


Select your Project by clicking it in the Task window. This displays the movie in the Preview window.

NOTE: See that small marker to the left of playhead (it’s circled in red)? That indicates the location of the poster frame for this movie. You can set this manually, see below.

Click the Marker icon to reveal a popup menu. From this menu you can jump to, set, or clear the poster frame for the movie, as well as set chapter markers. Chapter markers are always set at the position of the playhead.

You can set chapter markers manually by positioning the playhead, then either use this menu or type M.


However, you can also import a marker list to set markers automatically.

A marker list is a plain-text document. The easiest way to create one is using Text Edit. Go to the Format menu and make sure the menu choice says Make Rich Text. That’s the indicator that you are creating a plain text document. (Yes, it is a bit counter-intuitive.)

You can give your document a name and add comments at the top. Any line that doesn’t start with a number is ignored.

Then, enter a timecode value that corresponds to the Timecode of your exported movie. Press Tab and add a marker title.

Once you have markers set, compress the file as normal and the markers will be included in the compressed file. These embedded markers will be visible in both Quicktime during playback or in your MPEG-2 video for use by your DVD authoring software.


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37 Responses to Compressor 4: Create Chapter Markers

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  1. jac colon says:

    Is there any way to copy the time code values from FCPX in order to paste them into the text file.
    Typing each time code value is rather clunky and time consuming.
    thank you

  2. Dan S. says:

    Thanks Larry, you are always a huge help! See you at LAFCPUG.

  3. Allen says:

    When creating chapter markers for use in DVD Studio Pro, as long as I have to create them manually, I’m not seeing what the advantage is to creating them in Compressor rather than just creating them in DVD SP.

    • Allen:

      Placing chapter markers in Compressor – BEFORE compression – is frame accurate.

      Placing chapter markers in DVD SP – AFTER MPEG-2 compression – is only accurate plus/minus 15 frames due to how MPEG is compressed.

      If accuracy isn’t important, using DVD SP is fine.


      • Allen says:

        Thanks Larry. I had noticed the inaccuracy of creating chapter markers in DVD SP, but hadn’t put 2 and 2 together. Duh!

        Thanks for clearing that up.

        – Allen

  4. John says:

    Hi Larry-

    What’s the significance of exporting from the project library. I’ve exported from both the timeline and the library, but hadn’t noticed a difference.

    Thanks for all the great articles!


    • Ah… good point, John.

      In the initial release of FCP X, it would only allow you to export from the Project Library. In a subsequent release, Apple nows allows exporting from either the Project Library or Timeline.

      I just got in the habit of always using the Project Library. Thanks for pointing out the change.


  5. Jon Cameron says:

    although this is not actually killing me I may die of natural causes while trying to figure out someway of getting the chapter markers or their time code out of FCPX and into compressor. There is an app at github which requires some knowledge of running scripts, that I don’t have and therefore can’t muddle my way through. There is a $99 app at promedia tools that a) I don’t know if it will work, b) does all kinds of wonderful things that I won’t ever use.

    Its not fair. (Wahh). I like FCPX it is easy to use in most respects for what I do, it just doesn’t do the chapter marker thing, I will stick with everyone else in not saying nasty things about apple (because the older and the wiser evidently figured that this won’t do anything), but surely surely someone has figured this out.


    • jac colon says:

      github actually has a free app called rockwood / fcpx-Marker-Converter which does produce a file containing the markers in FCPX which can be imported into compressor using the manual method mentioned above.
      It does not require a knowledge of running scripts. I have used it and it works well.
      You can download it from:

      It works well but is still much more clumsy than FCP7 because you have to export the movie to xml and then import it into rockwood / fcpx-Marker-Converter, then import the file it creates into compressor. It is better than hand typing all of the time codes into a file or manually entering the chapter markers into compressor. Especially if you have a lot of chapter markers. If if is just a few, then I would just enter them manually.

  6. Abe Kestenberg says:

    Hi Larry,

    I have learned a lot from your tutorials and from just reading the manuals of various programs.
    Although no program is perfect, could you please ask the Apple Software engineers to add “export with chapter markers” from the timeline of FCPX.

    Yes, I know we can deal with chapter markers in compressor, but frankly, this is a clunky workflow. Especially since we had “export with chapter markers” in FCP 7.

    Your work is excellent and thank you for making my editing life easier with your tutorials.

    All the best…Abe

    • Abe:

      I agree and have already mentioned to Apple that this needs to be added to a future release. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they implement it soon, as I use this in every video that I create.


  7. Josh says:

    I tried and tried to save the marker list as Rich Text, and Compressor 4 did not recognize it. When I saved the marker list as Plain Text, it did recognize it. FYI all.


  8. Alex says:


    Many thanks for the tutorial. I have a question if you could help me out I would greatly appreciate. How can I create a DVD índex at startup out of those markers if I have my movie created in FCPX and chapters added with compressor 4? Or if I have two FCPX movies I want in the DVD and want an índex that will enable to select from one or the other at dvd startup.

    Many thanks!

    • Alex:

      Converting the markers into navigation points would be done by the DVD authoring program – such as Adobe Encore, or DVD Studio Pro. It is not done by FCP X.


      • Alex says:

        Hi, Larry,
        Are there any other options besides DVD studio pro (which I think I read is no longer for sale), and a cheaper option then Encore? I already have the movie and just need a piece of software to créate a simple custom índex at dvd startup and to get encore I need to dislodge 800usd for Adobe premiere.

        I might be wrong but it seems better to invest the 800 in adobe software, then 300 in FCPX, plus 50 in Compressor and not be able to burn a DVD with a menú index. From what I read it seems like Apple is focusing in doing family or recreational videos and distancing from pro. Is this right or am I going insane? Im taking my first steps in the long road of turning pro and would like to know if I should just adobemize myself.

        Many thanks!

        • Alex:

          You can create simple DVDs using Roxio Toast – but whether this meets your needs for menus, only you can determine. The process of authoring a DVD is not simple and I don’t know of any other applications other than Encore that do a complete job on the Mac.

          I think a better way to describe what Apple is doing is that they are focusing on tapeless media and downloads. DVDs and CDs are no longer considered today’s technology by Apple, and they are gradually dropping support.


          • Alex Ojeda says:

            Many thanks for your help Larry.

            So with this new apples perspective what is the output they recommend for clients instead of Dvd/cds? Can i create and output a file with apples software that by having my clients download it or having it ftp’d or emailed thay can click on it and have a menu for my video options? What are apple options to produce a neat professional output that substitutes the old tech dvds/cds authoring?

            Many thanks again Larry.

          • I can’t speak for Apple, but the obvious answer is a website with links that play each movie as you click on it.


  9. Alex says:

    Thanks Larry, I understand, a website will be a great option to some clients. But what about the long list of clients that want a file, either in DVD, USB, ZIP, download form with professional looking menus, etc. that need their vídeos for, lets say, internal training for employees, usb, dvd or cd give aways to potential clients, weddings that dont want their video on the internet, internal stockholders vídeos, and the list goes on.

    It seems to me from what I read that apple has shifted out of dvds to early or just plainly focused on hobbysts, amateurs or dilettantes that upload to website, youtube, vimeo, facebook, etc.

    The only thing holding me right now from buying FCP X is that I’ll need FCP X and Adobe’s Encore to satisfy my clients. Someway it doesnt make sense to me. I understand that DVDs and such will be something of the past, will probably not be aorund in the future, but what about the present? A suitable transition from Apples side would’ve been optimum. Dont you agree? Take out those option and software once their faithful clients and FCP users are not needing it either. Apples decision seems solely buck making on their part.

    Many thanks for your answers and time. I am really upset at Apple.

    • Alex:

      The only folks that can answer “why” are Apple. I agree that it would have been helpful to many of us if they had supported optical media – like CDs and DVDs – a while longer.


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