How to Watch a DVD on iTunes

By Robert Vaux

Most personal computers these days allow you to play DVDs on their hard drive but you may wish to play it on iTunes instead. iTunes is intended to work with digital files and, while it can play CDs, it doesn't work with DVDs. Not to worry. You can play your DVD on iTunes by copying it into digital format, a feat made possible by a free piece of software called HandBrake.

Things You'll Need

  • computer
  • iTunes software
  • DVD
  • HandBrake software

Step 1

Go online to handbrake.fr and download a copy of HandBrake. Check to make sure the version you're downloading is compatible with your computer. They have versions for a number of operating systems, including Windows and Mac OS. The software doesn't cost anything and it takes just a few minutes to download.

Step 2

Put the DVD in your computer and close the normal DVD playing software. Open HandBrake and wait for a moment. It should scan the DVD and prepare it for copying. In the event it does not, click on the "Source" button on the upper left-hand corner of the HandBrake window, then select your DVD.

Step 3

Double-check the running time of the listed DVD file to make sure it matches the listed time on the DVD case. (Sometimes HandBrake will select the DVD's supplemental materials instead of the movie itself, which you can spot by checking.)

Step 4

Consult the presets folder on the HandBrake window or click the "Toggle Presets" button if you don't see it. Click the "Normal" setting, the "iPod High-Rez" setting or the "Apple TV" setting. All three should allow you to play the copied DVD in iTunes.

Step 5

Click the "Start" button in the HandBrake window. It will begin copying your DVD to your computer's hard drive. Allow it to work without interruption until it's done (the process usually takes several hours or longer).

Step 6

Open iTunes and look for the copied DVD in the "Movies" folder. If it doesn't appear there, search for it on your hard drive, then click and drag it over to the iTunes folder.

Step 7

Open the film in iTunes and watch it as normal. Make sure the file doesn't skip or demonstrate any other flaws.

Tips & Warnings

  • More recently released DVDs often contain digital downloads, which let you automatically copy the DVD to iTunes either by placing the disc in the drive and following the instructions or by typing a particular code into the iTunes store. See if your DVD has this option before downloading HandBrake; it will save you a great deal of time.
  • Copyright laws stipulate that you can only use electronic copies of DVDs for personal viewing. Don't try to sell or otherwise distribute your iTunes copy; you may be in violation of copyright laws.