Do you have a ton of DVD’s? Want to watch them on your iPod, iPhone or Apple TV? Here’s a tutorial that explains how to use an awesome program called Handbrake to rip DVD’s into MPEG-4 video files.

Handbrake is available for PC, but it’s still in the experimental beta stages.


  • An iPod, iPhone or Apple TV
  • 500 MHz processor or better with at least 16MB of video RAM
  • QuickTime 7.0.3 or later
  • iTunes 6.0.1 or later

1) Initial Set Up Download Handbrake from one of the sites listed below and install it. To install Handbrake, just copy the program into your OS X Applications folder. Handbrake is free. If you already have Handbrake installed, please check to see if your version is out of date. Several new improvements have been made recently to the program, specifically for the iPod Video.You can download Handbrake using any of the links listed below:

NERD NOTE: HandBrake is a GPL’d multiplatform, multithreaded DVD to MPEG-4 ripper/converter. HandBrake was originally available on the BeOS, but now has been ported over to Mac OS X and to GNU/Linux.

Grab a video DVD and put it into your computer. Handbrake can only convert standard video DVD’s that you would normally play in a DVD player. If you have a DVD-ROM with random video files saved on it (AVI, MPG, WMV, MOV, etc), Handbrake will not be able to convert these files. Depending on your computer’s preferences, the DVD Player application might automatically open. If it does, just quit it. Only one application should be accessing the DVD at a time.

Launch Handbrake. Select Detected volume and press the Open button.

[Handbrake source selection dialog]

2) Source Settings[Handbrake title selection menu] Handbrake will now scan your DVD. This make take up to a minute or two depending on the contents of the DVD and the speed of your optical drive.

Title: By default, Handbrake will select the longest title in the list. However, this may not be the content you want.

  • Movies: If you are ripping a movie, the longest title is usually the main feature.
  • TV Shows: If you are ripping a DVD containing TV shows, you should see a list of several titles all about the same length.

The shorter titles on the DVD, that are only a few seconds long, are usually the video backgrounds used in the DVD menu screens. Unless you are a graphic artist, you probably don’t want these tracks.

If you only want to rip one title but aren’t sure which one, you can click on the Picture Settings button (bottom right of the Handbrake interface) and manually step through several frames of the title to see what it looks like.

NERD NOTE: Sometimes Handbrake is unable to see every track on a DVD. We’ve noticed issues with very old DVD’s from the mid-1990s (before the days of fancy menus and Bonus features) and some newer DVD’s like Stealth. There are different techniques and methods to authoring DVD’s Sometimes the tracks get nested in weird ways that prevents Handbrake from seeing them. Other DVD ripping applications like Mac The Ripper and OSex might be able to see these tracks. Look for the longest track. That is probably the main feature.

3) Destination Settings The Destinationsection has 3 settings you can modify: file format, codec and file destination.

File Format: If you want this video to play on your iPod, then select MP4 file for your file format.

Codec: You can choose either AVC/H.264 or MPEG-4 for the codec. An H264 file will take twice as long to encode as a MP4, but be smaller in file size. If speed is not an issue for you, select H264. However, if you select H264, you must also choose the Baseline profile as your encoder in the Video section. Personally, I use MPEG-4. It’s fast and looks pretty good.

File Destination: You can name your file and choose its destination using this box. Try to pick a location that has sufficient disk space to store the ripped file. On average, you need about 300 MB per hour of video.

4) Video Settings

[Handbrake video quality box]Frame Rate: You can just leave the fps set to Same as source or select 29.97.

Encoder: If you selected H264 as your codec, you must also choose the Baseline profile for the Encoder. MP4 can also use the Baseline profile and still work on your iPod Video. In the interest of simplicity, just select x264 (Baseline profile).

If you selected MPEG-4 as your codec, then you should pick FFmpeg for your Encoder.

Quality: Set the Quality to Average bitrate and enter anything between 400 and 1500. Some people will want higher quality files while others will prefer files that take up less hard drive space. As an experiment, rip one DVD at 400 and another at 700. Compare the two and decide which bitrate is best for you. Please keep in mind that a higher bitrate will result in a higher quality video file but be larger in file size. I usually rip movies that have good special effects or cinematography like Sin City or The Matrix at 1500. But 1000 is good enough for Apple TV and your iPod or iPhone.

2-pass encoding: If you really want a high quality file, select 2-pass encoding. With a “2-pass encoding”, the encoder will go over your video twice to make it as good as possible. As a result, your DVD will take twice as long to encode, but look and sound better with a smaller file size. We suggest 2 pass.

Feel like your computer is slacking off lately? Give it a DVD to encode overnight using the H264 codec and select 2-pass encoding. But don’t be surprised if it’s still chugging along when you wake up.

5) Audio Settings

[Handbrake video quality box]Languages: Your DVD might have several audio tracks. Language 1 should be the default audio track for the region you live in. For example, Language 1 is usually English in America. Feel free to select your preferred language. Language 2 is usually secondary commentary voiced by the Director or actors from the project. If you just want the movie, select None for Language 2.

Sample Rate: The iPod Video will pretty much take any sample rate you pick, but we recommend leaving it set to 44100.

Bitrate: We suggest bumping up the audio to 160 but you can keep it at 128 if hard drive space is an issue. Higher bitrates will produce larger files.

6) Picture Settings Click on the Picture Settingsbutton to launch a separate window.

Size: Your iPod wants video files that are 320 pixels wide by 240 wide. Turn on the “Keep aspect ratio button” and decrease the Width until it says 320. Handbrake will auto-adjust the height to match the width. If your video source is 3:4 (full-screen), the height will be 240. For wide-screen content, the height will be a lower number. This is fine and isn’t something to worry about.

But if you plan on watching this video on your TV with an Apple TV or an iPod Video dock, then you should keep the video size between 720 to 640 pixels wide.

Misc: Does your video look like horizontal lines are running all through it? Select Deinterlace picture to get rid of this problem.

[Handbrake resize picture settings]

7) Rip Finally! Click on the Rip button and stand back. The encoding time will depend on several variables including: the duration of the video file, the speed of your computer, what other activity your computer is currently doing, the codec you selected (H264 or MP4) and if you decided to do a 2-pass encodingor not .Handbrake will attempt to provide you with an ETA. The time will increase if you Pause the encode or do anything that will hog the processor like start a 3D render in Maya.

When encoding is finished, quit Handbrake.

8) Import Into iTunes

  • Connect your iPod Video to your computer using the cable it came with and open iTunes (Applications > iTunes).
  • Drag and drop the video file into your iTunes library, or select Add to Library… from the File menu.
  • Make sure the video file you just added to iTunes is in a Playlist that will get synced to your iPod.
  • Select “Update iPod” from the File menu (File > Update iPod).
  • The sync may take a few minutes. Once completed, the file should now be on your iPod.

9) Questions?
If you run into any issues or have questions, please check out the Handbrake Forum pages.

Note: Original article was published on another site. The original article can be found at: