Convert DVDs for iTunes, iPhone, iPad & iPod

This post aims to share with you how to convert DVDs for iTunes, so you can watch your favourite movies and TV series on your iPhone, iPad and iPod.

I am an avid traveller, and in years gone by airlines with legs departing to/from Australia were notorious for their lack of Video on Demand (VOD)/inflight entertainment systems. Or more often than not these systems (consistently plagued with glitches) played with my fickle emotions by promising all the new movie releases I could dream of, only to leave me starring at a blank screen for eight hours. Learning how to convert DVDs to iPhone saved me from these emotionally charged moments in time.

Also being a TV series junkie I have found being able to convert my DVD box sets onto my iPhone, has also assisted motivation levels in making perennial trips to the gym.

Disclaimer: Some media companies and organisations (AFACT [Australia], MPAA [United States]) are of the position that you can’t legally copy or convert commercial DVDs for any reason. The law seems somewhat ambiguous on this position at this point in time, however as a general rule of thumb if you own the DVD, think before you convert. If you don’t rightfully own the DVD than it is a lot more clear cut and you shouldn’t be contemplating converting.)

With that aside I can now answer ‘How do I convert DVDs into iTunes to load on my iPhone, iPad and iPod?’, in a few easy steps for free!

First Step: Visit and download and install a copy of a great little open source project called HandBrake (Widows XP, Vista and 7 | Mac OS x 10.5 / 10.6 | Ubuntu deb | Fedora 15). Once this is completed you then need to install another open source gem VideoLAN (, as HandBrake no longer includes the libraries required to decrypt commercial DVDs.

Second Step: Insert the DVD you want to convert into the DVD drive.

Third Step: Launch HandBrake and click on the Source button (top left corner) to select the DVD. Once HandBrake has scanned the DVD for the titles it contains look for Source “DVD Name” e.g. PARTY, and then under Title, select the option that most likely corresponds with the movie/TV series runtime length e.g. movies are normally greater than 1hr30min. Note: With a TV series DVD there is normally multiple Titles (depending on the number of episodes per DVD) you will want to convert, however this can be simply accomplished by using the Add to Queue button with a unique name in the File area.

HandBrake - Select the DVD Title

Fourth Step: Once you select the Title you are going to convert, you need to choose the encoding settings and this will be end device dependent (i.e. Apple TV, iPhone 3, iPhone 4, iPad). As you get more comfortable with the software you can tweak the encoding settings yourself however as a starting point it is hard to go by the presets that will optimise the settings for the specific device you are using. Hot Tip – the Universal preset will work on all current Apple devices.

HandBrake - Select encoding preset

Fifth Step: After deciding which encoding setting to use, click the Start button and it will start to transcode your DVD Title to the required format.

Sixth Step: Once transcoding is completed it is a simple matter of dragging the converted Title into iTunes and sync it with the ‘i’ device you want.

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