Home > Mac administration > Converting video files to play on both Macs and PCs with Handbrake

Converting video files to play on both Macs and PCs with Handbrake

Telestream’s recent conversion of Flip4Mac from a free app to a paid one has left many Mac admins without a free vendor-supported solution to display Windows Media files in. One particular niche that Flip4Mac has filled for me over the years has been with groups collaborating across platforms on shared presentations. Flip4Mac allowed embedded .avi and .wmv movies created on Windows to work without many issues in PowerPoint presentations that were ultimately given on a Mac.

In situations like this, if paying for the Flip4Mac plug-in isn’t an option, the best fix is going to be converting the video files from a platform-specific format to one that is supported on multiple platforms. A good candidate here is going to be the MP4 format using the H.264 video codec and fortunately, there’s free tools like Handbrake available to help with this conversion. See below the jump for how to convert a Windows Media File to MP4 format using Handbrake.

The conversion process is essentially the same on all platforms, but here’s how to convert a single Windows Media file to MP4 on both OS X and Windows.

OS X

1. Launch Handbrake

2. Click the Source button

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.07.13 PM

3. Select the video you want to convert and click the Open button.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.07.19 PM

4. In the Destination blank, click the Browse button.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.07.43 PM

5. Select the place where you want to save the video file’s converted copy, then name the new video file if needed.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.07.42 PM

6. In Output Settings, verify that Format is set to MP4.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.07.49 PM

7. Click on the Video tab if needed and make sure the video codec is set to H.264

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.07.54 PM

8. Click Start to begin the encoding process.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.07.55 PM

You can monitor the progress of the conversion process via the progress bar that appears at the bottom of the screen.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.08.07 PM

Once finished, it should report Encode Finished.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.08.17 PM

9. Locate the file in the destination directory.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.08.54 PM

Windows

1. Launch Handbrake

2. In Output Settings, set Container to MP4.

Capture1 (2)

3. Click the Source button

Capture1

4. Select the video you want to convert and click the Open button.

Capture2

5. In the Destination blank, click the Browse button.

Capture3

6. Select the place where you want to save the video file’s converted copy, then name the new video file if needed.

Capture4

7. Click on the Video tab and make sure the video codec is set to H.264

Capture6

8. Click Start to begin the encoding process.

Capture6a

You can monitor the progress of the conversion process in the lower left corner.

Capture7

Once finished, it should report Queue Finished.

Capture8

9. Locate the file in the destination directory.

Capture9

Once the conversion is completed, open the converted video file on both a Mac and PC to ensure that the converted copy performs as expected.

Mac:

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 2.13.40 PM

Windows:

Capture10

Categories: Mac administration
  1. May 13, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Nice writeup! You should also check out HandBrakeCLI [http://handbrake.fr/downloads2.php] for automated, scriptable video conversions. Very slick.

    For example, here is the command to do what you showed in this post:

    HandBrakeCLI -i Wildlife.wmv -o “My Great Movie.mp4” -e x264 -q 20 -B 160

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