How to put DVD’s on your iPhone (for free)

For A Few Dollars More

A lot of companies like to sell you applications to put DVD’s on your iPhone. Usually these apps are just wrappers around existing tools, and are pretty expensive if you consider you can do it for free. And you don’t need to be a computer wizard either! The steps are simple:

  1. Use Handbrake to rip the DVD to iPhone format
  2. Drag the generated mp4 file into iTunes
  3. Sync it to your iPhone like all other content

To show you exactly how this is done, I’ve  written up this “babystep-by-babystep” tutorial. Let me show you how I ripped “For A Few Dollars More” and put it on my iPhone:

Disclaimer: The DVD I ripped is bought and payed for. This article does not relief you of your responsibility to obey the law, so please be careful. And be nice, don’t pirate.

What You Need

  • Handbrake for ripping the DVD
  • VLC, which is used by handbrake for DVD’s with encodings not supported by Handbrake. You don’t always need it, but download and install it anyway, just to be sure.
  • Some patience.

Step 1: Rip the DVD to an MP4
Put a DVD in your Mac, and stop the DVD player application if it opens automatically.

Select VIDEO_TS folderStart Handbrake. A selection window will open, use it to browse to the DVD, and select the VIDEO_TS folder (just select it, no need to go into it) and then press “Open”.

Select Title and ChaptersHandbrake will briefly scan the DVD for titles. In the “Source:” section of the screen, select a title and the chapters you want to rip. Usually Handbrake guesses that it’s the longest title, with the most chapters you want to rip. Let’s go with those defaults.

Presets Selection DrawerPress the “Toggle Presets” button on the top right, and select “iPhone” from the list that pops out on the right side of the Handbrake window.

Select Audio and SubtitlesNext, click the “Audio and Subtitles” tab and select the audio and subtitles you want to listen and read in the ripped video. You can NOT change audio and subtitles later on your iPhone, so choose wisely. This is usually the step I forget, which requires me to wait for the whole ripping process again.


Make sure the destination file is where you want it, and press the green “Start” icon. Handbrake will start reading the DVD and create an MP4 file. This can take a while, so you might want to get a cocktail. Handbrake will show a progress bar in the icon in the dock.
Step 2: Import into iTunes
After the ripping is done, you can add your mp4 file to the iTunes library by simply dragging the video file into iTunes. There you can set the title, year, genre and illustration exactly as you did with your music files.

iTunes showing ripped DVD

Step 3: Putting it on your iPhone
Plug in you iPhone. Go to the iPhone configuration and click on the “Video” tab. Scroll down, and select the video you just imported:

Sync the movie to the phone

When you press “Apply”, iTunes will immediately start copying the movie over to the iPhone, where you can find it in your iPhone in your iTunes library.

Advanced Tips:

  • Few Dollars More on iPhoneThe DVD I just converted (For A Few Dollars More) averaged out to about 3,5MB per minute. That’s about 5 hours of video per GB, but your mileage may vary. On average you should be able to take at least one or to movies with you on your iPhone. If your music is in the way, you can use these tips to make iTunes organize your music for you.
  • Handbrake has an “Add To Queue” button which lets you convert multiple movies in a row. In order for that to work you need to copy the VIDEO_TS folders of multiple DVD’s onto a harddrive. Now you can convert multiple DVD’s overnight.

11 Responses to How to put DVD’s on your iPhone (for free)

  1. rolfje says:

    Another bonus tip: If you convert the DVD into a compressed disk image (DMG) file, you can not only convert faster, but you also have a backup of your DVD.

    One of my DVD’s got a scratch, and I wish I had a backup of it. Live and learn.

  2. Brent says:

    I did as you said to do on here, but now it wont let me drag it to my Itunes any ideas?

  3. Rolf says:

    Are you sure you converted to the correct file type? iTunes refuses import if the file type is not supported. Did you try to import a normal mp3? Maybe your disk is full?

  4. mike says:

    how do you drag the movie in itunes???

  5. Glenn says:

    My DVD fails to convert as it is write protected – where now?


    • rolfje says:

      Hi Glenn, DVD’s are always write protected – you can not write to a DVD you bought in a store. Did you mean it is copy-protected? What did you do exactly and what is the error you are getting? Some DVD’s are hard (or even impossible) to copy, in those cases you might want to download a torrent, but you didn’t get that from me 😉

  6. David says:

    Thanks it helped 🙂

  7. Slig says:

    Once on iTunes the video is all fuzzy , help please!

    • rolfje says:

      Hi Slig, you may want to check your Handbrake settings and choose a higher quality. Please note that the file size will also increase when you do that. Handbrake will down-convert the video file, so if you are going to look at it on a larger screen on your mac, it will look a bit fuzzy. Remember, the target device is your iPhone (or iPad, whatever you chose as conversion format). So how does it look on your device?

  8. says:

    Hello, Once I imported an audio cd into itunes, it separated the tracks thus 19 albums rather than 19 tracks of
    just one album. I tried removing and re-installing and tried
    to combine in the data without fortune. Any suggestions?

    Thanks, Kat

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