macOS Catalina vs. Audiobook Chapters

Update: Looks like macOS 10.15.2 resolves this one, folks. We tested syncing to a 4th-generation iPod and an iPhone running iOS 13.3 and both got their chapter stops, just like the good ol’ Mojave and earlier days. You have our permission to update to 10.15.2 😛.

A few folks who’ve recently upgraded to macOS Catalina and love Audiobook Builder wrote us this week. Since the upgrade, they haven’t seen chapters in audiobooks created with Audiobook Builder and synced to their Apple devices. Some had even spent an hour or two on the phone with Apple’s support team, only to be told the issue must be in Audiobook Builder itself.

So we ran some tests. And some more. And a couple of hours of testing later, we felt enough confidence to say, no, the issue isn’t in Audiobook Builder. It’s in how the Finder in Catalina is – or, rather, isn’t – syncing chapter data to each device.

Our tests showed that all’s well on Mojave. Sync a “homemade” audiobook from iTunes on Mojave to a 4th-generation iPod or an iPhone running iOS 13.2.2 and you get chapters. Sync the same audiobook from the Finder on Catalina to the same devices and no chapters.

Then we tested audiobooks we purchased from the iTunes Store. Same results. You’ll need to remove purchased audiobooks from your device and sync them back again, if you wanna try this at home.

Poking around a bit, we learned the sync process itself aced optimizing processor and memory use, maximizing storage life, and minimizing battery wear and tear, not to mention saving the user a few seconds so playback begins immediately, by parsing out the chapters and storing them in a cache from the get-go so the device doesn’t have to do it every time an audiobook is played. Thank you Apple!

The only catch is it’s not working now – and the only variable is Catalina.

So we dashed off a bug report to Apple. We’ll keep you posted, but get in touch at if you need any additional details in the meantime.

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