How To: Edit Ebook Metadata in iBooks

This is why I like comments or this website. I posted an article today, saying how I want to be able to edit metadata for ebooks in Apple’s iBooks app. And a commenter chimed in, explaining how it’s done.

In iBooks, go to List view. Click on a title; wait a second, then click on the Title, Author, Category or Collection. It will become highlighted, and you can change the contents of these fields.

Ibooks change metadata

It’s tricky to get the timing right. If the second click is too soon, it will be interpreted as a double-click, and either open the book or begin downloading it if it’s in the cloud. Wait too long, and it doesn’t work. You’ll have to figure out how to get it right.

Once one field is selected, you can press the Tab key to go to the next field.

If you can edit metadata, then why doesn’t Apple make it easier, offering an Info window, as in iTunes?

h/t Guillermo Carvajal.

26 thoughts on “How To: Edit Ebook Metadata in iBooks

  1. I’ve never understood why iBooks doesn’t allow for iTunes-style get info windows. If you’re going to force people to use a separate app (BAH!) then you should replicate the functionality of the original app.

    Personally, I can’t stand the way iBooks sequesters books from the rest of the user’s documents and renames them to a long string of garbage characters. At least it doesn’t store them in exploded form anymore (at least it doesn’t on the computer; it seems to do so on my iPad; my ~2.5gb collection of ePubs eats up nearly 5gb on my iPad). I hope you’re right and Apple is planning to reintegrate iBooks with iTunes in iTunes 13 (or 12.5 or whatever). They could keep iBooks as a reader, but iTunes should be responsible for storage and organisation if they can’t be arsed to give iBooks more robust metadata editing capabilities.

  2. I’ve never understood why iBooks doesn’t allow for iTunes-style get info windows. If you’re going to force people to use a separate app (BAH!) then you should replicate the functionality of the original app.

    Personally, I can’t stand the way iBooks sequesters books from the rest of the user’s documents and renames them to a long string of garbage characters. At least it doesn’t store them in exploded form anymore (at least it doesn’t on the computer; it seems to do so on my iPad; my ~2.5gb collection of ePubs eats up nearly 5gb on my iPad). I hope you’re right and Apple is planning to reintegrate iBooks with iTunes in iTunes 13 (or 12.5 or whatever). They could keep iBooks as a reader, but iTunes should be responsible for storage and organisation if they can’t be arsed to give iBooks more robust metadata editing capabilities.

  3. Works for me on Yosemite, but is still fairly limited compared to how iTunes used to allow metadata editing of eBooks…

    You still cannot edit:
    1. Cover Art
    2. Release Date
    3. Series
    4. Issue Number

    And bizarrely, many of the books purchased from the iBookstore don’t have metadata for Description, Version Number, Issue Number, Update Date (despite having a 1.x or 2.x Version Number…). And of course, there is the column for ratings which only appears in List View and cannot be used in a smart playlist or displayed anywhere else the OS X version or anywhere in the iOS version of the app.

    As it is, iBooks remains a strange hodgepodge of an OS X/iOS app with all the downsides to both: user-unfriendly storage of files with hashed names, no useful metadata editor interface, no way of making smart playlists, no way of easily syncing Collections from iBooks in iTunes, etc.

    Maybe eBook data and metadata management will be re-integrated into iTunes with 12.x-something or 13, but I wouldn’t hold my breath despite the recent findings by Doug Adams with iTunes 12.1. In the past at least, you could force iTunes back into book-management mode by deleting iBooks and all related system files. OS X does expect iBooks to be installed, so I haven’t dared muck with it this way in quite some time.

    The whole eBook experience on OS X has been quite poor since iBooks came out… But hey, you can read the things you buy on the iBookstore directly on your Mac!

    • Right-Click on the column headers and you can add more columns. Release date, Series, and Issue Number are available choices. Sadly, there is still no cover art option.

  4. Works for me on Yosemite, but is still fairly limited compared to how iTunes used to allow metadata editing of eBooks…

    You still cannot edit:
    1. Cover Art
    2. Release Date
    3. Series
    4. Issue Number

    And bizarrely, many of the books purchased from the iBookstore don’t have metadata for Description, Version Number, Issue Number, Update Date (despite having a 1.x or 2.x Version Number…). And of course, there is the column for ratings which only appears in List View and cannot be used in a smart playlist or displayed anywhere else the OS X version or anywhere in the iOS version of the app.

    As it is, iBooks remains a strange hodgepodge of an OS X/iOS app with all the downsides to both: user-unfriendly storage of files with hashed names, no useful metadata editor interface, no way of making smart playlists, no way of easily syncing Collections from iBooks in iTunes, etc.

    Maybe eBook data and metadata management will be re-integrated into iTunes with 12.x-something or 13, but I wouldn’t hold my breath despite the recent findings by Doug Adams with iTunes 12.1. In the past at least, you could force iTunes back into book-management mode by deleting iBooks and all related system files. OS X does expect iBooks to be installed, so I haven’t dared muck with it this way in quite some time.

    The whole eBook experience on OS X has been quite poor since iBooks came out… But hey, you can read the things you buy on the iBookstore directly on your Mac!

    • Right-Click on the column headers and you can add more columns. Release date, Series, and Issue Number are available choices. Sadly, there is still no cover art option.

  5. Phew! Thank you. Just upgraded to Yosemite (from ML), Very annoyed I can’t add cover art though. Boy is everything really, really slow. Probably made a mistake upgrading.

  6. Phew! Thank you. Just upgraded to Yosemite (from ML), Very annoyed I can’t add cover art though. Boy is everything really, really slow. Probably made a mistake upgrading.

  7. You can just select the line of the book you want to edit, and then hit tab. It’ll tab straight from one entry to the next. I found this to be the fastest way to edit the metadata to a book. Thanks for your post, though, it got me to approach the problem in the first place.

  8. You can just select the line of the book you want to edit, and then hit tab. It’ll tab straight from one entry to the next. I found this to be the fastest way to edit the metadata to a book. Thanks for your post, though, it got me to approach the problem in the first place.

  9. I guess this metadata edit happens on Mac and not IPad.

    There is no such detailed appearance in iBooks on iPad and the click to edit is not working at all.

    Am I getting something wrong?

  10. I guess this metadata edit happens on Mac and not IPad.

    There is no such detailed appearance in iBooks on iPad and the click to edit is not working at all.

    Am I getting something wrong?

  11. For whatever reason I press on title, press tab a few times- and it skips right over the ‘last read’ and ‘series’ columns. I currently have all my series as a ‘collection’, but would love to directly put it as metadata. Any advice?

  12. For whatever reason I press on title, press tab a few times- and it skips right over the ‘last read’ and ‘series’ columns. I currently have all my series as a ‘collection’, but would love to directly put it as metadata. Any advice?

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