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How do I convert video files for use on the AppleTV? I've tried Handbrake but it crashes on a lot of the video files I have. Any alternatives that are free? I've got an Intel Mac running Snow Leopard.

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I'm running the latest versions. It's crashing in Thread 13: Thread 13 Crashed: 0 org.m0k.handbrake 0x0029218a mp_decode_layer3 + 3114 – FigBug Oct 9 '09 at 3:08
I wonder if I have bad ram? – FigBug Oct 9 '09 at 3:13
The fact that Handbrake crashes is not a very good thing. I've used it and have never had any problems with it. – alex Oct 9 '09 at 6:29
What are you trying to convert?. Handbrake does get flaky sometimes, in a pinch I always go to Visual Hub for transcoding, it never seems to fail. – Bryan Schuetz Oct 9 '09 at 12:34
up vote 1 down vote accepted

My favorite free converter is ffmpeg.

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How do you use ffmpeg to 'convert video files for use on the AppleTV?' Could you please provide an example command? – Josh Hunt Oct 9 '09 at 12:40
According to (, Apple TV can play MPEG 4 files using either the Advanced Simple Profile or H.264. There are a lot of flavors of ffmpeg out there, not all of which can produce H.264, so I'll give the incantation to make ASP-compressed video: "ffmpeg -i name-of-file.avi -vcodec mpeg4 -b 1200k -acodec aac -ab 128k name-of-file.mp4". Note: if you prefer a GUI interface, you might try (, which is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. – CarlF Oct 9 '09 at 15:09

What version of handbrake & VLC are you running? I haven't seen any issues with Handbrake crashing, and I am using VLC 1.02, and handbrake 0.93.

Handbrake now relies on VLC's libraries for some of it's features including DVD decryption... So if you have an old copy of VLC, that could be an issue.

Also make sure you are running handbrake in 32bit mode...

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+1. I just started using Handbrake 0.9.3 myself with VLC 1.0.3 and it works for me. – Chris W. Rea Oct 9 '09 at 2:59

I recommend iSquint, it's been discontinued but still works great. It's free and will convert the videos to the proper format. You can even set it to add them automatically to your iTunes Library.

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Don't convert. Just add XBMC to the original AppleTV software, and you will be able to play tons of other filetypes:

XBMC is installed onto the Apple TV built-in harddrive but you will still be able you use your Apple TV software as normal, XBMC will only be an extra option that you can launch from the Apple TV's original menu when you want to utilize the extra features and functions that are available in XBMC compared to the original Apple TV software. So XBMC will not replace the original Apple TV software, it instead works as complement the existing Apple TV software.

Here's the wiki on how to install it:

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