How to Use Handbrake to Convert Videos on Mac OS X

Not all videos you can transfer to your iPad? Wanna play DVD movies on your iPhone? Use Handbrake to help you. It is a free source Mac Video converter for you to convert DVD, convert video in 3GP, AVI, FLV etc. This tutorial focuses on how to use Handbrake to convert video on Mac so you can watch unaccepted video on your iPad or other devices.

Note: 1. Here is the tutorial on  how to use Handbrake to convert DVD on Mac. 2. Handbrake can only convert video in several formats and provides only two output format: MKV and MP4, and several presets for iPod, PSP or more (all the output formats are preset as MP4.)  And for using the output video on your iPad, iPhone or more, be careful in setting the video resolution, video format and more. Or you can use another Handbrake alternative: iMedia Converter Deluxe for Mac which provides optimized presets for iPad, iPhone, Xbox 360 and other hot devices so you needn't to set video resolution, bit rate etc. by yourself.

Part 1: Use Handbrake to Convert Videos on Mac OS X


  • Mac OS X 10.5 or higher
  • Processor 500 Mhz, or better with video RAM in at least 16 MB
  • Handbrake 0.9.3 or higher. Only the latest version of the Handbrake 0.9.3 allows you to convert videos with the Theora codec. It supports to convert videos from WMV, MP4, AVI, MOV, 3GP, MOD, MPG to MKV, MP4, OGM, AVI on Mac OS X. But you may fail to load some of these videos sometimes.

1. Download and load videos you want to convert

Download Handbrake: Handbrake 0.9.5 for Mac OS X.

Handbrake is free. If you already have Handbrake installed, please check to see if your version is out of date.

Once downloaded, depending on your computer's operating system, you'll be asked to install the program. Follow the directions on your screen and you'll be fine.

Now, you can load videos such as 3GP, AVI, FLV, MKV, MOD, MOV, MP4, MPG, WMV you want to convert.

If a dialog box doesn't open up, click on the icon that says Source and select the videos in you mac which you want to convert.

Note: Not all videos can be imported to convert, and you can only convert video one by one with Handbrake, so if you can not load your videos successfully or wanna have batch conversions to save time, you can use iMedia Converter for Mac.

2. Change the destination settings

handbrake flv

The way your picture and sound quality will turn out in the resulting file depends on the settings you choose in this step. You could always go with the default settings, but if you'd like more control over the output, here's how to do it.

You can modify 3 settings in the Destination section: codec, file destination and file format.

And you need to decide is what format (MP4, MKV) you'd like the output file to be in. There are some presets that can be found on the Presets Toggle bar, and you can select any one of those, such as those for iPhone, Apple TV, Sony PSP, Xbox, iPod and many more.

handbrake flv

Next, you want to choose the destination location. You can name your file and choose its destination using this box. Try to pick a location that has sufficient disk space to store the converted file.

3. Picture settings

Go to Picture Settings, click the button and open the editing window. Then you can compensate for grainy or interlaced, compressed looking video. Basing on the presets you have selected, Handbrake would have adjusted everything for you here.

When coming across interlacing, you will see horizontal lines in the video files. But you can click the Deinterlace tab and set “fast” to remove interlacing. The following image is animated. When turn on and off the Deinterlace option, it will toggle between. You will be able to view the difference around the edge of the flipper.

Picture Settings of Handbrake

Remember: the larger the screen size, the larger the file size will be, and hence the more time it will take for Handbrake to convert your files.

4. Use Handbrake to convert videos on Mac

Last, click the Start button and stay back. The encoding time depends on some variables like: the speed of your Mac, the duration of the video file, the codec you selected (MP4 or H.264), other programs your Mac is currently running and whether you decide to do a 2-pass encoding or not.

Handbrake will show an ETA when encoding. But if you start a 3D render in Maya, pause the encoding or do other things will hog the processor, the encoding time will become longer. We suggest you process video conversion overnight or at a time when you don't have to use your Mac.

When encoding is finished, quit Handbrake.

5. Import into iTunes

  • Connect your iPod Video or iPhone to your computer using the cable it came with and open iTunes (Applications > iTunes).
  • Drag and drop the video file into your iTunes library, or select Add to Library... from the File menu.
  • Make sure the video file you just added to iTunes is in a Playlist that will get synced to your device.
  • Select "Sync"

The sync may take a few minutes. Once completed, the file should now be on your iPod or iPhone.

Part 2: Use Handbrake Alternative to Convert Any Video and DVD on Mac

Handbrake alternative: iMedia Converter Deluxe for Mac

  • Broad format support:  able to convert DVD an any video in all popular formats including AVI, MP4, WMV, MOV, FLV, MKV, AVCHD and more
  • Provide presets for iPad, iPhone, iPod, PSP, Xbox 360, Motorola, HTC and more
  • Automatically add converted file to iTunes if you choose preset for Apple devices or apps so you can directly orgnize the file via iTunes or transfer to iOS devices.
  • Easy to use in video and DVD conversion: drag file to the Mac app -> choose the output format -> click Convert button. That's all. 

Learn more: iMedia Converter Deluxe for Mac.

Best handbrake alternative

Thank you. The interlacing part was driving me crazy...!
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