How to use handbrake? Handbrake – The Master Guide (2021)

According to the company itself, Handbrake is an open-source post-production software used to convert videos in MP4 or MKV from any supported format.

It can also let your compress and organize your video files, including 4K! Yes, it supports DVD, Bluray, 4K, and even GoPro videos.

In this guide, we will go through everything that Handbrake has to offer, right from downloading Handbrake on your device to using it to the best of its capabilities.

So lets’ go!

Basics of Video Encoding

Before getting into the working of Handbrake, it is important to understand the basic components of which a video file is made and what are the basics of encoding.

Video Compression is one of the most crucial steps in the entire post-production process. It is a process carried out by major production houses to freelance video makers alike. It helps with the portability of the digital files. 

Video Compression helps to reduce the byte size of a digital file without reducing the actual quality of the video itself. Such compression is achieved by form information encoding.

So let us understand how video encoding works:

Difference between Video Containers and Codecs

Video Containers and codecs go hand in hand, therefore the difference between the two can be confusing.

Codecs are protocols that are used to encode video files. This is done to save bandwidth consumption while maintaining good quality. There are a variety of codecs available and the quality of the output depends upon the codec used. Some of the popular codec formats are FFMpeg, H.264, and H.265. H.265 is growing and becoming very popular these days.

On the other hand, Video Containers are containers that hold all the information about the video files like metadata, subtitles, and encoded files(as defined by the codecs). Some popular Container formats are MP4, MKV, AVI, WMA, etc.

How to install Handbrake?

The first step is to download the Handbrake application on your device. Visit the official website and download the application. The website will recognize your OS and download the compatible version.

Launch the set-up file once it is downloaded. Follow the steps of installation until the setup is complete. 

Understanding the Handbrake UI

Once you have installed the application successfully on your device, you will see the HandBrake UI, which will be something like this:

The majority of the functionalities of the Handbrake can be accessed through the top header portion. Let us understand what each tab means.

Open Souce

This button is used to select the video that you want to encode. You can even drag and drop the file to start encoding.

Some of the most useful presets available in the application have the following properties:

Queue

Add to queue button, as the name suggests, is used to make a queue of videos to be encoded. All you have to do is add all the videos you want to encode to the queue and set the configuration for each of them.

The queue button is used to see all the files in the queue and start it.

Activity

If you want to troubleshoot or see all the activities you have performed, just open the activity tab. It contains a log of all the actions performed.

How to encode Videos using Handbrake

Handbrake has a lot of presets that can help you to encode your videos with just one click. It is recommended that you choose a lower video version, as a high version will slow down the encoding process and increase the file size. On the other hand, choosing a lower version will increase the encoding speed and also decrease the file size.

According to Handbrake’s guide: “Small decreases in value will result in progressively larger increases in the resulting file size. A value of 0 means lossless and will result in a file size that is larger than the source.”

To compress high definition sources, you can play with the Quality Bar, 19 to 23 for High Definition, RF 20 to 24 for Full High Definition, and 22 to 28 for Ultra High Definition.

Manual Encoding

It is recommended that RF must not go below 18 as it can lead to a significant loss of quality in the final product.

You can preview the final result before exporting the video using to preview button. 

You can make changes in the video during the preview as well. This will let you see your changes live.

If you have selected a preset and made some customization to the default settings, then you can save that as a new custom preset. This will help you to use your settings for other videos with just one click.

Using Queues

This feature of the Handbrake application is one of the most important and crucial features. Encoding and processing videos require a lot of computation power and time. So instead of waiting and manually adding videos one-by-one, you can add them to a queue with configuration and let the Handbrake app do its job.

You can set notifications, or set your computer to sleep, or shut down entirely after every job in the queue is complete. 

You can even edit the video in a queue, in the windows application, the video you want to edit will be removed from the queue and added to the main screen for editing. Once the edit is complete, you have to add it to the queue again.

When your queue is set, you can press the start button.

Point to Point Encoding

This is one of the unique features that Handbrake provides. It lets you encode a part of a video instead of the entire video. If you are using a video from DVD or Blue-ray, then you can encode the video according to the chapters.

Apart from the chapters, you can use seconds and frames as reference points to set the range for encoding.

Video and Audio Optimizing with Handbrake

You can easily edit and optimize video and audio using Handbrake. Let us first look into optimizing videos. Open the home screen and click on the video tab. From here you can change many parameters related to video like Average Bitrate, encoder settings, framerate, etc.

Video Compression for Web

If you want to compress video with handbrake without losing its quality then you must use one of the webs presets available. Handbrake gives you options to choose the platform on which you are going to upload as well. This way, you get the best quality with compressed file size in an instant.

handbrake how to compress video

Video Cropping and Modification of Output Size

In the dimension tab, you can see many available settings using which you can modify the output video with ease. You can crop the video or set anamorphic or storage size as well.

The Storage size represents the total number of pixels that are going to be encoded. Whereas, Display Size means the number of pixels that will retain their resolution the same in the.

These two values are not changed by default as changing these can result in a stretched video or it could transform into an anamorphic projection.

Anamorphic means to adjust the lens in such a way that the video stretches and covers the entire film vertically. This gives a higher quality but distorted output. There are four different options available for anamorphic settings in Handbrake:

  1. Off: Storage and Display size is the same.
  2. Auto: As the name suggests, it auto-adjusts to give max storage resolution while keeping the aspect ratio the same.
  3. Loose: It tries to keep the storage aspect ratio but can result in small storage resolution loss.
  4. Custom: Let’s you edit manually.

Cropping

Handbrake’s automatic crop is a nice and reliable feature. It will remove the black border parts from the video. There is also a set of manual crops. This means that you can adjust the crop size from each side by just entering the number of pixels you want to crop.

Make use you preview the output before exporting.

Optimizing Audio

The first step to start audio optimization must be setting the configuration for “Selection Behaviour”. This setting will directly show its impact on the added audio tracklist.

Selection Behaviors lets you define the matching languages, auto pass-thru, and the audio encoder for each selected track.

You can change the codec settings of the audio as well. Apart from this you can take many different sound mixdowns and pass them through your source. Handbrake by default adjusts to sound so that the audio sounds good in stereo as well as in the multi-channel audio systems.

 

How to embed Subtitles in the media file

If your file has subtitles in it already, for example from DVD, you can keep the subtitles in the video. Else, you can find some online and add them. In this section, we are going to learn how to do the latter.

Step 1: Add a video source and go to the subtitles tab.

handbrake subtitles

Step 2.1: If you are adding from DVD then Handbrake will automatically find the subtitles, you can find the language and click on the Burn it checkbox.

Step 2.2: If you are adding external subtitles, mostly in the case of digital files then you have to configure selection behavior to automatically add SRT files, or else you have to manually add them.

Click on Import subtitles, browse and select subtitles file.

handbrake subtitles default

In some cases, the subtitles and the audio will not be in sync, so you have to set an offset to match the timing. This is just trial and error until you can match the timings.

HandBrake for Ripping DVDs

Handbrake is a great tool to rip files out of DVDs and Blu-rays and organize your media as digital files on apps like Plex. You can rip both copyrighted and non-copyrighted files, but for copyrighted files, you will need to include software files into Handbrake to be able to decrypt such DVDs. 

You need to download the Libdvdcss library. It will help you to rip out the copyrighted content with ease. It can pass the CSS(Content Scrambled System) used in the DVDs. The process for the same varies on the OS of the system.

Linux

On Linux, mainly Debian and Ubuntu, the relevant files can be grabbed here and installed via bellow handbrake command line:

sudo dpkg -i libdvdcss2_version_arch_.deb

Windows

Download the files from here and copy them into your Handbrake installation folder.

macOS

On macOS, go to libdvdcss and download the latest and version of files. Run the installer, to put the files where they belong (or copy them to /usr/local/lib). 

Choose what to Rip from a DVD

Handbrake lets you choose and select the title that you want to Rip from a DVD, Handbrake will fill in all the remaining details automatically.

Select the folder you want to save the file in from browse and click on save.

best handbrake settings for dvd

Optimal settings for handbrake

Squeezing a video file from AVI to MP4

Squeezing is the process to reduce the file size to reduce the disk space consumed or to use less bandwidth for uploading digital files. It is one of the most known features of Handbrake.

Encoding an AVI file using the H.264 codec can reduce the file size to a significant amount while maintaining quality. But if the file is already encoded using any of the Handbrake given codecs, you can change attributes like frame rate, pixel dimension, audio rate sample, etc. to get a nice squeeze.

Converting video from MKV to MP4

MKV is a container format, but not a popular one. To play MKV file you need a video player that supports such formats or you need to download codecs for those files. One popular and preferred way is to convert the MKV file into an MP4 file. In this way, the files are supported by all the players.

Open the MKV file in the Handbrake video converter, In the summary section, select the format as MP4. Go to the Video tab and select H.264 codec and encode the video.

If you want to convert MP4 to MKV, upload the video in MP4 format, click on presets and find multiple presets for MKV files under the section “Matroska”.

handbrake dvd to mp4

Reducing the Resolution of a video to 480p

It is easy to do, just add your video to Handbrake and select any one of the presets for 480p and start encoding.

handbrake 4k settings

This same process can be done for every single format exchange. From 720p to 480p or from 4K to 1080p. 

Advanced Handbrake Operations

Using Handbrake with other Tools

The best use of the Handbrake tool is that you can consolidate it with other interactive media instruments to automate your encoding work processes. For instance, you can set up a programmed media assortment instrument and let Handbrake convert all that media so you can stream it flawlessly. 

For instance, if you are continually downloading media files through the Internet and ripping DVDs, the vast majority of those files won’t accompany similar configurations and encoders. 

To develop a media assortment a Seedbox can assist you with automating torrent downloads and secure your privacy simultaneously. To normalize every one of those distinctive video designs, use Handbrake to naturally get videos and encode them to a particular preset arrangement. 

At last, to coordinate your media assortment, the Plex Media Server can assist you with unifying everything into a solitary stage, present it in a lovely dashboard, and permit you to play in through any customer device.

Although Plex, adjusts the video quality on the go for every particular gadget, it takes high assets to pack web-based video. This is when Handbrake turns out to be truly helpful because you can get ready and advance all your media records previously.

With a Seedbox or VPS (Virtual Private Server) from Iseedfast, you can have everything in one spot. The assistance accompanies a one-click application installer that permits you to effortlessly coordinate every one of these applications to smooth out your work process. 

Summary

Handbrake is a truly useful asset and the best of everything is that it is 100% free and open source. With it, you can pack those enormous video files into more modest measured versions with great fair quality. Individuals love Handbrake in light of the fact that it accompanies awesome preset boundaries so you are a couple of snaps away into changing over media records. 

You can likewise leave numerous documents in the line, each with various presets, and go out to drink some espresso while Handbrake accomplishes everything. Handbrake can likewise tear any DVD or Blue-ray disk. 

Handbrake can do some incredible things with different arrangements of instruments, for example, with a Seedbox and Plex media worker. Simply download media documents securely and namelessly from the Internet into your Seedbox, computerize and streamline the video encodings directly from the Seedbox, and arrange your media assortment with the Plex Server.

Let us know in the comments how do you like to use Handbrake!