Rip smarter, rip better for specific devices with Handbrake

Jonathan Seff, Macworld
6 July, 2012
View more articles fromthe author

HandBrake is a great app for backing up your DVD collection and converting other files on your hard drive to different formats. And to make things easier for users, the software offers a number of built-in presets, including a bunch for Apple devices.

However, when new devices come out, it can take quite a while for new presets to appear. The third-generation iPad, for example, now supports 1080p video playback, but HandBrake’s current iPad presets were designed
for older models and therefore won’t produce the best-quality video for your new device.

Luckily, creating your own presets in HandBrake is easy if you know a few simple tricks. In this example, I’ll show you how to create one for encoding at up to 1080p resolution. (Your source material needs to be 1080p as well, so this preset won’t make any difference for standard-resolution DVDs). You can also use this method to create tweaked versions of built-in presets for specific needs.

First, you’ll need to choose a source file; you can select any video file that Hand Brake recognises. Next, click Toggle Presets in HandBrake’s toolbar to see the various built-in presets and then click the disclosure triangle next to Devices. Among the other iOS offerings, you should see an AppleTV 2 preset – select it to load the preset’s settings. (The reason you select the AppleTV 2 preset as the foundation for your preset is that HandBrake bases your custom preset on the settings of whichever built-in one you select and this preset produces the best default videos for newer Apple hardware.)

Creating a custom preset in HandBrake can save you lots of time when encoding videos.


Now click the plus-sign button (+) at the bottom of the Presets Drawer to create a new preset. In the Preset Name field, enter a name for your preset. From the Use Picture Size pop-up menu, choose Source Maximum (Post Source Scan). Select whether you want to use HandBrake’s picture filters (for removing noise, for example). Enter an optional description, and then click Add. You see your new preset at the bottom of the preset list, in black type as opposed to the blue used for built-in presets.

If you’d like to set this as your default preset for all new video encoding, select it in the drawer, click the gear icon and choose Make Default from the pop-up menu. Your preset now appears in bold.

Your new preset creates the highest- resolution video files for your new Apple devices based on whatever video you feed it. So 1080p video stays at 1080p, but if you’re converting a 720p video, the preset recognises the resolution that HandBrake discovered when scanning the video file and outputs the video at 720p (rather than attempting to upscale it). If you want greater control over the default settings, you can tweak the original preset before clicking the plus-sign button.

Click the Preview Window button to see what your video will look like and what its dimensions will be after you’ve finished encoding it.


Note that the presets don’t store subtitle and selected audio language settings, although the app’s preferences have a Native Language pop-up that you can set and that the program will always attempt to use as a default.

You can now create one or more presets in HandBrake that fit specific needs – quality and size settings suited to watching videos on your 16GB iPhone, for instance. When you’ve finished, select Presets Export from HandBrake’s menu bar to save your presets so that you can use them on another Mac without having to re-create them from scratch.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us