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.