I’m asked quite a bit on how to play downloaded movies and television (any sort of video, really) on your iPhone or iPod Touch… and then, move that onto your Television. It can take quite a bit of time to convert each file (unless the one you’ve downloaded is already formatted), but most of the job is a “Set up and leave it running in the background” job. There are, as with all things technical, many ways to skin the cat. This, however, is how I do it. I won’t include here exactly how to download the videos, but there are plenty of other tutorials out there that will teach you. This will also ‘rip’ DVDs, which means, turn them into a usable video file.
One important note though: Don’t ever pay for downloading videos, unless it’s a trusted source, such as iTunes. There are plenty of “Get every Movie ever made, just $5/month” run by people who you definitely don’t want to be giving your card details to. I remember my Dad once fell for one of these and it wasn’t much more a link to Pirate Bay and uTorrent with a tutorial set up.
So, let’s go ahead and get this puppy running. The file that I’m using is a rip of a video that I already legally have purchased, and as such, is a backup copy and I’m well within my rights to use it as I wish.
I’m presuming you already have iTunes installed.
How to get this running
Step 1 – Download Handbreak
Step 1 - Download the Handbreak Software
Download HandBreak (click to open), it’s a simple tool, get the “GUI” (Graphical User Interface) version, if you’re reading this, then you don’t want to be bogged down with writing codes. Make sure you get the right one for your operating system. You’ll then be prompted to download the file, click ‘yes’, if you get a choice (and for the sake of this guide), choose to save it to your desktop.
Step 2 – Install Handbreak
Stage 2 - Install and Run the Handbreak Software
Find the downloaded file (on your desktop if you’re followed this tutorial), double-click on it to open it up, and just keep on pressing ‘next’ and ‘i agree’ to the terms and conditions (You should read the terms and conditions*, and don’t accidentally ‘cancel’ when its installing), the default options are all fine.
Step 3 – Set Handbreak up
Stage 3 - Set everything up in Handbreak.
- (1) Select the Source file, this is your video file that you’ve downloaded or the folder with the DVD in
- (2) Select where you want your output file, if you’re going to do this a lot, then choose a new folder, if you’re just doing it every now-and-then, then pick somewhere like your Desktop.
- (3) Select the ‘iPhone & iPod Touch’ Preset
- (4) Making sure that the aspect ratio is fixed, if you’re only going to play this file on your iPhone/Touch, then you can leave this setting as it is. If you’re going to put it through to the telly, you’ll want to increase the Width to 720ish (or if the Source is smaller, select the source’s width). The bigger the size, the more room it’ll take up on your device. I find they normally take up around 700-800MB, at the ‘Size’ that looks good on the telly, so if you have a 32gb model, 2-3%. If you’re only playing them on your device, they’re around 400mb, which is a lot less.
- (5) Press ‘Start’, a black box will appear which will give you a percentage of how far along the file is. I think they take about 2-3 hours on my computer, but every computer is different. I normally do it the night before and just leave it going. Feel free to do other stuff while it’s running in the background, but if your computer crashes or you reboot it, you’ll have to start again.
Step 4 – Import into iTunes (and then onto your iPhone/iPod Touch)
Stage 4 - Import into iTunes and then your iPhone/iPod Touch
- (0) Open up iTunes
- (1) Click on ‘File’ then ‘Add File To Libary’, browse to the file we made in Handbreak (on your desktop if you were following above), and select ‘open’. This will them import it into your Library
- (3) Go to ‘Films’ section in iTunes
- (3) Right click on the video you just imported into iTunes, if it’s a TV Program, then go to ‘Options’, then at the ‘Media Kind’ drop down, change it to TV Program. This will move it from the Films section in iTunes to the TV Programs section.
- (4) To make things look pretty on your device, go to CDCovers.cc (click to open) and download the cover. You can then, once you’ve downloaded the right one, go to Artwork and add the cover to the file.
- (5) If your device isn’t plugged in to your computer, plug it in now. Once it’s finished sync’ing (if you’ve got auto-sync), drag the video file into iPhone/iPod Touch. It’ll then sync, and once that’s done, you’re more-or-less done !
Step 5 – You should now be able to watch it in the iPod application.
Only buy the OFFICIAL cable (about 30 squid)
Now to get this running on the telly, you need to buy an official iPod/iPhone AV Cable, I choose the APPLE MB129ZA/B Composite AV Cable, it’s important you buy the real thing, as with iPhone OS 3.0, they wiped out something that broke unofficial cables. I went through 3 different brands before I found out, luckily they were all from local shops so it wasn’t a big deal waiting for them. Everything plugs in as you would expect (the three wires are colour coded, the iPhone/iPod Touch end is a usual connector, there is even a USB cable to plug it into the wall so you don’t run out of juice).
When you plug it in, the telly won’t change until you’re actually playing the video. You can also watch YouTube on the big screen.
As a side note: You can also watch TV Catchup (Live Television feeds, click to open) and a lot of BBC iPlayer (click to open) on the big screen too. This is great if you’ve got bad Freeview reception.
* Well, that’s up to you, I never bother, but it’s always good advice to point out that they’re there for a reason.