How to rip a DVD to m4v (mp4) or mkv using HandBrake in Ubuntu, Windows, or Mac

After writing my previous post about ripping DVD to avi using k9copy (and the ddrescue workaround), I found HandBrake. After doing a little reading on it, the general consensus is it does a better job at reading DVDs, even those with some issues. I was able to get HandBrake to completely convert my DVD easily and, although it is a little slower than k9copy, it is quite capable. Another nice thing about HandBrake is it’s cross-platofrm support — it’s available for Windows (exe), Mac (dmg), Ubuntu (PPA/deb), and Fedora (rpm).

This comes with the same general disclaimer as the previous post: Notice: This walk-through is not intended to encourage or facilitate piracy. It is the user’s responsibility to observe all applicable licensing and copyright laws.

That said, on with the how-to.

Installing HandBrake

You can either install HandBrake via the HandBrake Releases PPA (Ubuntu) or the HandBrake download page (Windows, Mac, Fedora).

PPA for Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) or newer (Recommended): Open a terminal and enter the following three commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk

Direct downloaders: Download your installation file from the download link above and follow the installation procedure for your operating system.

Using HandBrake – Ubuntu Linux

HandBrake has a lot more flexibility (and therefore a lot more options) but only a few need to be changed to get the best rip possible. You can find HandBrake in the launcher after installing it.

After starting up HandBrake, click the Source button in the top left.

In the new window that opens, go to the bottom and find the “Detected DVD devices” drop-down box. Select the device appropriate for your system and click the Ok button.

After a few moments of scanning your DVD, the summary tab will populate with information.

On the video tab, click the “Target Size (MB)” radio button. The default value of 700 is correct.

Go to the chapters tab and uncheck “Chapter Markers”

Click Start to begin the ripping process.

Using HandBrake – Windows

Windows usage is similar to the above, but with some slight modifications. Also, the below is based on the latest version (0.9.8).

First, go to Tools > Options > Output Files and make sure a directory is selected for Default Path.


Next, insert your disc and click the Source drop-down, and select the disc.

After a few moments, select your preset on the right (based on the intended playback device — if unsure, use Regular > Normal).

Then, click Chapters and uncheck Create chapter markers.

Now, click Start to rip the DVD.

For more information, see the HandBrake Users Guide.

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