Step By Step Guide for Importing a DVD to iTunes

We all have reasons for importing our DVDs onto our Mac. Whether it is to preserve the movie if the original DVD gets scratched, or to have the ability to carry your movie collection in a digital format. For the duration of this tutorial I will be using my Ice Age DVD (a great movie by the way!)

This step by step guide will teach you how to use the power of HandBrake to rip your DVD’s so that they show up in iTunes, as well as on your iPod/iPhone device!

Background Information

iTunes Format

Apple has allowed iTunes to read only one video format – MPEG-4 (.mp4, .m4v). So this means that if we want the DVD to go into iTunes and play across all our other Apple devices, we need it to be in MPEG-4.

For those of you that have ripped your DVD’s in .avi format, you can also use HandBrake to convert them.


Be careful! Find out the law on ‘format-shifting’ for your own country so see what you are doing is deemed legal. In Australia it is up in the air (to my knowledge). It is however, legal to rip purchased music for your own personal use.

How to Import Into iTunes

Now for the tutorial, this is a step by step guide of how to import a video into iTunes. Along the way I will mention other related functions, but please do take the time to explore HandBrake fully – it’s a great program!

Step 1: Setting up the Rip

First, put your DVD into the optical drive of your Mac. Let the drive fire up for a bit until the disc shows up mounted on your desktop.

Once this has happened, open up HandBrake. The main window will open, with an import window appearing in the foreground. This is where you select your source for ripping. The easiest way is to simply click on the DVD in the sidebar (as you can see I have done).



From here your computer will spend a few seconds (or minutes) examining the disc. It will scan through the different chapters and attempt to find the main content of the DVD (i.e. the movie!) This phase will also scan through copyright protection on the disk to check it’s able to be copied.

Step 2: Ripping

Once HandBrake has finished scanning the DVD (assuming it is successful), the main window will change to give you the total length of the movie, and the chapters. From here you may edit different settings to alter the way the end rip looks like.

The Main Window

The Main Window

The first thing to notice is that on the right hand side there is a ‘Presets’ panel. If it isn’t there for you, simply click ‘Toggle Presets’ at the top right of the window. As you can see there are some handy options here!

If you are purposefully ripping a movie for a certain device, click on it here. If you just want it in iTunes then click ‘Universal’. You will notice that when you click on anything from the Apple preset menu, the format turns into an MP4 file.

If you do use a preset, it’s generally as simple as selecting it and pressing “Start”. However, if you are just keeping the movie on your computer, I’d recommend tweaking the quality. I personally set it anywhere from 700 MB (for animated movies) to 1200 MB (for favourites!).

Now, you don’t have to use these presets, but it is safe to stick with them. Why not just rip to the best quality possible you ask? Well, think about how valuable space is on your iPod. If you’ll only be viewing the movie on this small screen, it makes sense to scale the video and reduce the file size as far as possible.

HandBrake also has queuing options, but I will let you explore that for yourself. The “Preview Window” is worth mentioning – a feature that will render a short sequence with your chosen settings. It becomes valuable for when you are experimenting with the file size.

Previewing Your Video

Previewing Your Video

Once you hit start, you will again hear your drive fire back up and bottom of the main window will change to a bar that updates with progress.

Encoding in Progress

Encoding in Progress

The Dock Icon

The Dock Icon

In addition to this, the Dock icon also has a progress bar so you don’t have to keep flicking back to the application.

Once all is done, you will get a notification message that it has been successfully ripped. The time it takes varies greatly on your machine. I have heard reports of the new i5’s and i7’s being blazingly fast. It took about an hour or so on my 2007 MacBook.

Step 3: Adding to iTunes

Now the easy part… drag the file into the iTunes window! iTunes will automatically add it to your library and depending on your settings (in iTunes), you can delete the original rip now.

You can access the file by going to the ‘Movies’ sidebar of your iTunes window. From here you can double click on the movie and watch it whenever you want – alleviating the need to carry around your collection!

Viewing Your Movies

Viewing Your Movies

A range of different settings can be accessed via the “Get Info” panel, allowing you to adjust the artwork for the movie, and add information such as Genre, Year and Synopsis. This is particularly useful for later searching, or when viewing the movie on your Apple TV.

iTunes Info

iTunes Info

Optional: Syncing to iPod/iPhone

If you would like to sync this movie to your iPod/iPhone, click the device on the sidebar of your iTunes window. The information window for this device will now pop up. From here, click on the ‘Movies’ tab at the top. You can tick to sync all movies, or just the particular one that you have ripped. Click apply, and your device will synchronise.


And there you have it! A ripped DVD, on your Mac for safekeeping. It really is a handy way to carry your whole library of movies with you while you are travelling (if you are on a notebook of course). Providing you own the DVD, copyright is unlikely to be an issue at all.

Also, you will find from time-to-time you can’t rip a DVD, this will be because of its copyright protection. All I can suggest is trying RipIt, or MacTheRipper. Both of these apps are a great solution for moving newer DVDs across, before putting them into Handbrake.


Add Yours
  • Nice tutorial !!!

    • Yes, You don’t actually import the Cd’s, you rip the music from them. This can’t be done with DVD’s using iTunes, but you can do it with DVD to iTunes Converter( ) and many other programs.

    • The handbrake is an awesome free tool, but seems quite complicated for people like me, i would like to suggest this tutorial, much easier to handle with such job.

  • You can add to the mix a free app called MetaX ( MetaX will add all the movie or tv show meta data (name, cover, director, year…). Actually HandBrake supports MetaX, meaning that after HandBrake finishes encoding the movie it will automatically send the file to MetaX for proper taggin. MetaX uses Amazon and tagChimp to populate the content or you can do it manually. Last time I checked it only supported Leopard and Tiger.

    • Great hint – this is exactly what I was missing!

  • Nice tutorial, thanks
    There is another software from the Little App Factory calmée Enom that CAN convert any movie to a mp4 file. Much simpler then Handbrake :)

  • So basically this is a post about how to increase copyrighted content piracy? Hope the MPAA won’t notice you.

    • So if you purchase a DVD (movie) and then want to watch it in your iPod you just go to iTunes and purchase the same thing again?

    • It’s not piracy, it’s fair use. Rather, it isn’t piracy unless the data is transferred to another party. In the U.S. it’s illegal, but this article is written from Australia, so the MPAA, in unkind terms, can blow a donkey.

    • This has nothing to do with piracy. If I spent money on a DVD, it’s mine and I feel that I have the right to watch it whenever and where ever I please. As long as I don’t share it with anybody else, how can this possibly be piracy?

      • “If I spent money on a DVD, it’s mine and I feel that I have the right to watch it whenever and where ever I please. ” And you can do that. The DVD is yours. You bought the object. With it you got a licence that says you can watch it whenever you want. It likely also says you cannot COPY it. That’s why it’s COPYright. If you reproduce it anyway anyhow, that’s a breach of that copyright. Simples. If I make a photo and sell you a print, you can hang it anywhere you like. You own the PRINT. You do not own the COPYright. I do. That means you can’t COPY it. Sheesh, which bit don’t you cheapskate thieving scumbags understand?

      • dont listen to A Tog, aslong as it is for personal use (your not loading it up on the internet) and you are not making profits in any way off of your copy you are not in breach of copyright laws.
        Copyright laws were made so that ONLY the maker of the product could profit from their work, not so that they could make double the profits by putting things on different formats.
        ofcourse in america this hasn’t been amended yet (the right to copy) but you will find that it will happen soon.

    • I doubt you’d ever get prosecuted provided you didn’t give copies to friends. Why? Because a DVD makers are now starting to provide iPod versions on their DVDs. So it’s the same difference, except they’re saving you the trouble of using Handbrake.

  • Great tip about tweaking the quality. I’ve been just using the presets, but I’m going to try that.

    If you want to queue up several DVDs to rip, you can use Fairmount ( to copy them to your hard drive first.

    Since handbrake will send out growl notifications when you are done the rip, you can direct them to your iPhone with an app like Prowl ( or Boxcar ( Go out shopping and watch your Mac go through the queue!

  • Hi,

    Love this tutorial! Thx!!
    But I came across a problem when I wanted to import a dvd with clips.
    I’m affraid it will be the same for episode of tv shows.
    I got to rip the first clip.
    The second clip i wanted to rip took like 30sec, gave a mp4 file of 4kb = useless.
    I restarted Handbrake, ejected the dvd, …
    Still, nothing.
    Is there a way to rip a whole dvd with clips or episodes of tv shows n one take and have them as separate clips and episodes? I wonder ;-)


    • Use mactheripper, fairmount, or RipIt to rip theunencrypted VIDEO_TS folder to your hard drive. Select this folder as the source in Handbrake, then select one title. Set your options as you wish (I recommend selecting “Large File Size” if you go high quality or have anything close to an hour long, otherwise the file won’t work) and hit “Add to Queue” Repeat for the rest of the titles, then hit “Start Queue”. Let sit for a few hours in a well ventilated space and you’re gold!

    • I had the same issue, if you go through the whole dvd before you handbrake and write down what chapter each episode starts and ends on, you can change the settings in the top row where it says “Angle 1 Chapters 1 through (number of disc chapters) and Duration” you can change it so only one episode imports.

      For example, on my disc each episode is three chapters long so I would import 1-3, 4-6, and so on respectively.

      You may also be able to download the episodes individually in by selecting a separate title in the drop down menu in the same row.

      It takes a lot longer but you don’t have to download anything else and for me it’s worth it.

  • i have installed handbrake, however every time i click on source it asks for VLC so i have download the vlc and this is where i get stuck as i have looked on the internet and found out that you have to install it but cant see what file etc

    anyone got any ideas as im very new to macs as i have been a pc user for years


  • Select this folder as the source in Handbrake, then select one title. Set your options as you wish

  • Hi, This worked great for me, and I love the tip about reducing the quality to save space as well. However, all the chapters are out of order when I watch the movie in iTunes. Any suggestions? Thanks!


  • Great help, Thanks the effort made.

    Have been meaning to put several first episode DVD’s into iTune’s to compliment iTunes Store purchased later episodes of trilogy’s.

    Maybe you have links to help on other issues:

    – What about the reverse? Burning iTunes Store purchased movies to DVD?

    – My iTunes is filling up my hard drive with TV series and films… don’t
    want to delete an loose them and Time Machine onto a external hard-
    drive is awkward?


  • It’s cool of you to put this up Matt. I haven’t used Handbrake in a few years since I first tried using the app and was really disappointed when it didn’t work. Seeing as how it’s still around (and probably greatly improved) I’ll give it another go.

  • You should update this using RipIt ;)

  • Oh, good, thanks very much for this tip.

  • Used to use MetaX but lately it’s been very flaky for me. They need to incorporate Google images rather than Amazon for those of us that like box cover art MINUS the box and resolutions greater than 120×150. This is a niche that needs to be filled, so developers please shelf that “to do” app project you’ve got in the pipeline and give us a better DVD tagging app! Who needs another to do app anyway?!?

  • I have a Mac Book with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. I tried to rip a DVD with HandBrake- left it to rip overnight, and in the morning it was stuck at the end of one pass, trying to start a second. I feel like it’s not supposed to take that long- am I doing something wrong?

  • Thank you very very much . Your step by step guide help me a lot . Thanks again .

  • This is a great tutorial – thanks for the step by step guide. Very clear! (Now I can take movies on the iPad for my son that we own on DVD and not have to download them too! This is fantastic!)

  • How do I do this on Windows – or am I pretty much stuck unless I cave and buy a Mac?

  • Tried using this program and it just kept saying I needed to load VLC which I did about four times and it never recognised that program and the DVD just cam up all bitty and fragmented. So all in all a waste of time. Too bad looked promising but failed at first hurdle

  • Fantastic. Instructive, brief, to the point. Thanks.

  • i know a step by step guide on How to Rip and Convert DVD to iPad 2 at

    after free try, it also applies to import dvd to itunes,iphone, ipod, imovie and fcp and more

  • Great tutorial, thanks… So what settings do I need to change (in iTunes) to be able to delete the movie file from my hard drive without losing the movie in iTunes?

  • I am on Snow Leopord and get a VTC missing error. No explanation of what this is, why I need it, etc. I got an encoding complete notification and the next step in these instructions is ‘drag it to iTunes’. Drag what from where?? I just see the Handbrake window as it was when I started. This is definitely geared towards experienced rippers and not for someone doing this for the first time. A lot of effort for no result.

    • It is a media player that you download. I don’t believe you need an extra one, maybe it is a way to get some more stuff on your computer. I agree with you, drag what from where. In some cases, ITunes seems to do it all by itself.

  • There must be an easier, faster way. The amount of time it would take to accomplish this just simply isn’t worth it, dollar wise. Unless, of course, you have nothing better to do.

  • All that time, result: A chopy, fragmented reproduction. I think I’ll just go ahead and purchase from Itunes

  • the shades are beautiful

  • All that time, result: A chopy, fragmented reproduction. I think I’ll just go ahead and purchase from Itunes

  • hi,

    ive downloaded handbrake and imported a dvd and its in my folder on my desktop but i cant drag it into itunes it just doesnt do anything. I see that its picked up but itunes doesnt see it when i drop it into movies.

    Please help i thought this was going to be the easy part!! really dont understand whats going on.

  • Are you all trying to HANDBRAKE to convert dvd’s to mp4?…. I think your comments have been imported from another site or something…..nothing I get is anything like the tutorial, nothing happens in the order or maner it appears in the tutorial…..and of course, you guessed right….it doesn’t work….oh joy!!!! Yet another internet time zapper that’s crap.

  • I am trying to import an exercise video to itunes. It has 3 levels and Handbrake will only import the first level. How can I get the rest of the DVD to import?

    • If you look at the title (with hourly and minute times.) there will be different time lengths. What I do is I add them one at a time and rename them blahblah_1 and then blahblah_2 and etc. I remember the first time I used handbrake, I was making mistake after mistake and this works out well for me. This is what I do for episodes of shows… If I know the title of the episode it would be like this:
      Blahblah_ep1 or blahblah_timewilltell. this will give me diffrents downloads. be careful of the times because you can still get them all in one download which is impossible to fast forward to.

  • nice guide, i also find another tutorial that easy and fast to import dvd to itunes

  • It didn’t work for me. I keep getting an error that states that “handbrake could not find VLC. or your VLC is incompatible. Also the toggle area on the side does not allow me to click on them, not active. I think your missing a few steps or something. This probably won’t do anything either so I don’t know why I am still typing.

  • I tried this out with Fight Club. It went fine, until I did the scan. It said that there was a problem decoding it because the piracy control. I told it to scan anyways, and when I did the preview it was messed up to say the least. Help?

  • I attempted to rip my dvd but when I select the source it tells me “HandBrake could not find a compatible version of libdvdcss (32-bit libdvdcss is not compatible with 64-bit HandBrake and vice-versa). Please download and install libdvdcss.pkg if you wish to read encrypted DVDs.” Then it gives me the option to “cancel scan” “attempt scan anyway” or “download libdvdcss.pkg”. At first I tried to scan anyway but when I played the movie back it was green pixelated and choppy then I tried downloading libdvdcss.pkg and it pulled up in my downloads on the Finder but had twenty different options in the folder and I’m not sure which one installs what I need.

    • I had the same problem. Did you find a fix?

  • Thank you. This works super.

  • I got what you mean , thankyou for posting .Woh I am pleased to find this website through google. “Spare no expense to make everything as economical as possible.” by Samuel Goldwyn.

  • Thanks for writing this. I really feel as though I know so much more about this than I did before. Your blog really brought some things to light that I never would have thought about before reading it. You should continue this, Im sure most people would agree youve got a gift.

  • thanks for the awesome walkthrough. it really helped

  • Thank you so much for this! I found it very helpful, and now I will have movies to watch on the way to Disneyland!

  • hey, nice tutorial!
    i’m wondering, is it normal that the comes a lot of air out of my macbook and that it makes some noise ?

  • how would you “tweak” the quality like you mentioned?
    “However, if you are just keeping the movie on your computer, I’d recommend tweaking the quality. I personally set it anywhere from 700 MB (for animated movies) to 1200 MB (for favourites!).”
    please answer!

  • it worked!! u r the best

  • This guide did the trick….

    I used it to import a season of a TV show. So once ripped, I had to split the “movie” into multiple episodes.. but no biggie there…

    But I have a question. I want to add a nice icon to the TV shows’ “Info” area. I scanned in the DVD cover, as a jpeg. But when I add it to the info off the TV shows, my AppleTV starts acting oddly. Any navigating in and out of menus where the imported image is used is slow, clunky, and sometimes the ATV locks up.

    So… what type (jpg,tiff,etcetera) and dimensions are the used for the icons?

  • Thank you Friend. x

  • The tutorial is good, but you might want to update it to match changes in the appearance of the program’s dialog boxes.