HandBrakeBatch review: Easy-does-it batch video conversion
At a Glance
HandBrake can handle batch conversion of video files, but HandBrakeBatch makes the process even easier.
When you mention HandBrake around media-savvy Mac users, DVD ripping is the first thing that comes to mind. And while HandBrake is indeed a great tool for ripping the DVDs you own, it’s also quite a good (and free) video-conversion tool, letting you take video that doesn’t play on a particular device (like, say, an iPhone or an Apple TV) and converting it to a format that does. One thing that HandBrake doesn’t handle very elegantly, however, is batch processing—converting a bunch of video files in one shot.
In fact, for a long time, HandBrake didn’t support batch processing at all. It’s recently gained this feature, but it’s still not as easy as it could be: To batch process a group of videos, you must click HandBrake’s Source button, navigate to a folder full of videos that you wish to convert, choose File > Add All Titles To Queue, select the conversion preset you want to use, and then click Start. If the desired videos happen to be spread across several folders or volumes, you must repeat this process for each folder or volume. While the procedure is hardly painful, it’s not as easy as simply dragging movies into a single window, choosing a preset, and then starting the conversion.
Fortunately, there’s a utility that does exactly that: Cesare Tagliaferri’s HandBrakeBatch, and it doesn’t even require that you install HandBrake—HandBrakeBatch includes the open-source components of HandBrake necessary to perform conversions. (Though if HandBrake is installed on your Mac, and you’ve added any custom conversion presets, HandBrakeBatch will be able to use those presets.) HandBrakeBatch is free to download, but the developer asks that if you find it useful, you donate to a charity.
Launch HandBrakeBatch, and a single window opens—into this window you drag any and all videos you want to convert. Click the HandBrake Preset pop-up menu, and you’ll find all of HandBrake’s default conversion presets as well as any custom presets you’ve added to HandBrake—choose the desired preset. Finally, choose the folder where you want converted files saved. (HandBrakeBatch will remember this folder for future conversions.) Click Start, and HandBrakeBatch uses the engine that powers HandBrake to perform the conversion(s).
HandBrakeBatch accepts many of the same file types as HandBrake: In addition to the QuickTime and H.264 files you’d normally convert, it will also convert the .VOB files found within the VIDEO_TS folder from a ripped DVD. It can also handle .mkv files, which are typically images created from Blu-ray discs. And if you drag a mounted DVD into HandBrakeBatch, the utility will produce a converted movie file. (HandBrakeBatch uses HandBrake’s code to automatically determine the disc’s main title, which means that some copy-protection schemes may foil this step. If so, you’ll need to use HandBrake proper to find the right title.)
For movies with multiple language tracks, HandBrakeBatch’s preferences let you choose a particular language; you can also choose to include subtitles.
HandBrakeBatch offers a very easy-to-use avenue for converting multiple video files to common formats. If you’re not the kind of person who needs to routinely fiddle with arcane conversion settings, it’s definitely worth the download and optional charitable donation.
(Note that the developer of HandBrakeBatch has announced that since HandBrake now includes a batch-processing feature, HandBrakeBatch will no longer be updated. But I still find HandBrakeBatch’s workflow to be enough of an improvement that it’s still worth recommending.)