Copy DVD To iPod Using Freeware

March 25th, 2007 Da Vinci

You finally caved and got the first season of 24 or Lost on DVD. Now you’re hooked and you would use every opportunity to watch it. Then you realize: “Hey, my iPod! It’s perfect for traveling and for the gym, but how can I copy my DVDs to my iPod?!� . So you do some Googling, but you discover that there are hundreds of solutions out there and, worse, that copying DVDs has become a money making scheme! Besides that, nobody tells you that there are two big technical problems with copying or converting DVDs:

1) Most commercial DVDs are encrypted for copy protection;
2) There are many encoding variables (bitrates, aspect ratios etc.).

It isn’t publicized, but commercial DVDs are normally copy protected with encryption technology (including region codes) and most commercial DVD copy software does not allow users to copy protected DVDs. Without going into the legalities suggested in #1 above or the complexities suggested in #2 above, here is a free solution to copy DVD to iPod. It’s really very easy, but the first time will take a few minutes longer.

Step 1: Decrypt DVD using DVD43

1) Download and install DVD43. AnyDVD ( is another option, but it’s not free.

DVD43 icons

2) After downloading and installing DVD43 you will need to reboot your computer. DVD43 runs as a service so you do not need to do anything to enable the decryption besides watching the yellow smiley face … turn into a little devil … and then turn to a green smiley face when you insert the DVD you want to copy.

Step 2: Rip DVD to iPod mp4 format using Handbrake

1) Download and install Handbrake (Windows GUI version)

2) In the Source section:

Handbrake Source section

* Click on Browse and select the TS_VIDEO folder in your DVD drive.
* Select the Read Video button.
* Select OK.
* Select the View Data button. This will return all the titles on the DVD.
* Select the title you want to copy and click the Select Title button.
* Optional: Select DVD Chapters.
Take note of the Aspect Ratio value shown at the bottom of the Source section. Example: 1.78

3) In the Destination section:

Handbrake Destination section

* Click on Destination and browse to the folder where you want to save the movie. Enter a File name and select mp4 as the Save movie type.
* For Encoder, select .H.264 (iPod)
* For Audio Encoder, select AAC.
* For Height/Width, select the option that matched the aspect ratio that you noted in Step 1:

  • For 1.33:1: 320 x 240
  • For 1.78:1: 368 x 208
  • For 2.35:1: 384 x 160

4) In the bottom section:

Handbrake video section

* Leave Picture Settings, Audio Settings, H.264 and Query Editor as is.
* Video Settings: Enter 768 into the Video BitRate text box and leave everything else default.
* Optional: Set number of processors under Advanced Settings.
* Finally, hit the Encode Video button at the bottom.
* Hit OK on the start encoding message. A command line window will open the ripping process will start.

Handbrake start encoding

Step 3: Copy your mp4(s) to your iPod

Use iTunes to copy your mp4(s) to your iPod in the usual way.

Additional information

Handbrake is really a CLI (command line) tool and the GUI that is used in this post, really just builds and executes the command line instruction. In the GUI you can see the resulting command line instruction by selecting the “Query Editor” tab and hitting Generate Query Now. Now, you can go further and use this “query” to script batch copying by copying it into a .bat file (note that you will need to replace hbtest.exe in the query with hbcli.exe for it to work).

There are other free solutions like the ones below, but they seem to me to be more cumbersome. For example DVD Decryptor is a powerful DVD decryption program, but DVD43 does it on the fly. Anyway, here are other solutions you could try:
* – Alpha Geek: Copy DVDs to your iPod [using DVD Decryptor and Videora iPod Converter]
* All Things Marked – HOWTO: Convert movies to iPod format [for free] [using 3GP Converter]

27 Responses to “Copy DVD To iPod Using Freeware”

  1. Kevin Bisch Says:

    Hi Mr Epipe,

    Very cool stuff you have here – I am trying out the dvd to ipod stuff.


  2. Kathy Says:

    very helpful for complete beginner.
    I have movie on movie section of itunes but it won’t sync with ipod

  3. udigis Says:

    IMO, Why not just pay around $29 to get a shareware which is capable of converting DVD movies into iPod mp4 in just one step?! It’s all your choice: get iPod mp4 for free in two steps; or pay for a fast ipod converter, and create the iPod mp4 in just one step.

  4. Leonard Says:

    udigis, I agree with you in concept, however, in my experience not all commercial software actually works. Typically they do not have decryption built in and you end up paying $29 plus needing to install decryption software. Also, although it’s described as a 2 step process above it is only the first time and after that it’s a one step.

  5. Raymond Says:

    I have some queries on the setting as below:-

    What is 1.33:1, 1.78:1, 2.35:1?
    How can I optimiae the display of the iPod?
    Why input 768? What 768 means?
    How can I add sub-title?

    Please help.

  6. Bill Roy Says:

    udigis said….”IMO, Why not just pay around $29 to get a shareware which is capable of converting DVD movies into iPod mp4 in just one step?! It’s all your choice: get iPod mp4 for free in two steps; or pay for a fast ipod converter, and create the iPod mp4 in just one step.”

    because typing ./ is easier and cheaper than $hareware. Here’s a nickel, get yourself a better OS.

  7. iPodder Says:

    Thanks Da Vinci, I purchased software to copy DVDs to iPods (Avex DVD to iPod Converter, based on a Consumer Reports article) only to find out that it didn’t work on most DVDs. It took me a while to figure out that it’s the encryption. DVD43 is great :) So I agree with Bill Roy and Da Vinci, using DVD43 & Handbrake may sound like two steps vs one, but 1) at least IT WORKS and 2) you don’t feel ripped of for paying for something!

  8. Al Says:

    Very good and works i have spent a long time looking for something good.

  9. jackie Says:

    I downloaded (DVD43 and) Handbreak Windows GUI but in use it doesn’t offer me the chance to enter the aspect ratio (the boxes are there but I can’t type into them, it doesn’t have a video bitrate box (has an avg bitrate box instead which I was also unable to type into – default value was 1500) and in several other respects doesn’t look like the screenshots in your instructions. I succeeded desipite these difficulties in creating a movie that I can view on my PC but it won’t sync with my iPod nano – says it isn’t compatible.


  10. Da Vinci Says:

    Jackie, the Handbrake GUI has been updated since I posted this solution. I used Version 0.8 Build 2.1. You can try finding that version somewhere. When I get time I hope to create an updated post using a current version of Handbrake.

  11. Bob Says:

    This is only DVD to iPod program that I have tried which I have found to work each and every time.

    Thank you

  12. Samuel Says:

    Dude. This is the best thing ever.

    I’ve been trying to find a windows tutorial for HandBrake but all I’ve been able to find is Mac, Mac, Mac!!!


    (and for all the skeptics, It really does work!)

  13. JayJay Says:

    to udugis, who said:

    IMO, Why not just pay around $29 to get a shareware which is capable of converting DVD movies into iPod mp4 in just one step?! It’s all your choice: get iPod mp4 for free in two steps; or pay for a fast ipod converter, and create the iPod mp4 in just one step.

    why should you have to pay for more stuff when you already payed for the dvd?

  14. KD Says:

    This worked perfectly other than (as noted) there is now a newer version of Handbrake. I would recommend this to *anyone* – it is very simple to use.

  15. yumengzhong Says:

    For iPod users, Tipard iPod Converter Suite is a requisite iPod converter to rip DVD and any video to iPod MP4 video format and MP3, M4A, AAC audio format. It can also backup the files on iPod to computer. This iPod Converter Suite is discount software for the coming Christmas. It is actually the combination of Tipard DVD to iPod Converter, Tipard iPod Video Converter and Tipard iPod to PC Transfer.

  16. Caro-chan Says:

    Is the Windows/System/cmd window with the percentage that is slowly going up the encryption-thinggy? Because right now I can’t view the DVD at all. >.< I also can’t get iTunes to open the file that I saved. I’m quite confused right now.

  17. Llamaslayer Says:

    Yes, the WINDOWS\system\CMD window is the “encryption-thingy”. It shows how much of the encryption has been done and how much is left in percentages.

  18. Llamaslayer Says:

    By the way, this is pretty much awesome. I tried ripping the DVD without DVD43, but it said it was gonna take about 22 hours. Then, I followed this tutorial and it took less than one hour.

  19. How To Copy a Copy Protected DVD Says:

    [...] either copy protected or it failed without clear reason. In a previous post I have described how to copy a DVD to an iPod, but here’s a way to simply backup your DVDs to DVDs. There are two main problems with [...]

  20. Johnny Umphress Says:

    IMO, Why not just pay around $29 to get a shareware which is capable of converting DVD movies into iPod mp4 in just one step?! It’s all your choice: get iPod mp4 for free in two steps; or pay for a fast ipod converter, and create the iPod mp4 in just one step.

    I did pay for a commercial copy to iPod program ($40) only to find out that it honors the copy protect codes. What good is a copy program that will not copy?

  21. ggddd Says:

    here is a step on how copy dvd to ipod

  22. Sally Bee Says:

    I’ve just started using this in total frustration at trying to get video’s onto my daughter’s ipod. It’s giving me an ETA of 5+ hours in the cmd window! – what am I doing wrong?

  23. Online PC Repair Says:

    Hey, I just thought I would let you know your template doesn’t display correctly in Amaya. Cool site tho!

  24. Sophie Powell Says:

    Thanks for the guide. QUite a few of my precious dvd are getting scratched, so time to make some backups!

  25. stonee Says:

    Handbrake is great, it’s is an open source platform and totally free. But to be honest, it’s a little bit complicated and not easy-to-use, especially for beginners. I’ve been using it before one of my friends got me an ifunia DVD Ripper for Mac.

  26. so long. Says:

    so why is it going to take 4 hours to do a 90min DVD?


  27. Jeff Says:

    Handbrake worked fine for most of my movies, but for 2 (DaVinci Code, Hancock) it did nothing. I downloaded and installed, worked perfectly. I will keep Handbrake because I like being able to set my own size and width, but am willing to spend $39 to have a program that works twice as fast and reads all my dvd’s. I keep DVD43 on, and never use bootlegs. I hate spending money, but trial version only works for 10 days and 3 encodings.

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