Having an iPhone or iPod touch is great for music or checking email, but its slightly less known talent is using it to play movies. More accurately, I should probably say the slightly less used talent is playing movies.

Thats because getting movies onto the device is absurdly overcomplicated for the average user…to me, this is because Apple wants you to just buy it from the iTunes store because its so simple and convenient.

However, repurchasing movies just so I can watch them on an airplane on my phone is unacceptable to me, primarily because I am very very cheap. I already bought the darn movie on DVD, so I should be able to put it onto the iPod, right?

Well, legally I’m pretty sure the answer is “no.” Regardless, thanks to an easy to use (and free!) piece of software called “Handbrake”, you can easily (albeit slowly) put DVD’s onto your iPhone with just a few clicks.

For legal reasons, I’m not sure if it is a good idea for me to put up a direct link to the software. Just go to Google and search for “handbrake” and it should be one of the top results, and it ends in a .fr instead of .com.

Why is this so much work? Simply put, the iPod is only able to play video in a very specific type of format, and DVD’s unfortunately are not in said format. By changing around the file type, we are taking it from the DVD version to a language the the iPod will be alble to understand.

First, lets download Handbrake and install it. Go to the downloads page and choose which version you need, Mac OS X or Windows. Once it has downloaded, the installation should only take a few moments.

Alright, put your disc in the DVD drive and select it from the “source” list. Once you select the D:\VIDEO_TS option it may take awhile, as it is going through your disc looking for the video files.

The program will say “Scanning…” on the bottom left while its looking through the disc. This probably will take awhile, and there is a chance that Handbrake will tell you that the disc will not work. If that happens, then just try another movie.

Once the scanning is finished, you will need to select the proper preset from the right hand side of the page. Since we want our video to be compatible with the iPod touch or the iPhone, thats what we click on. If you click on something else, the video most likely will not work on the device.

So now you need to choose where to save the new video and what to call it by clicking on the browse button. Make sure you put it someplace easy to find so you don’t have to waste a lot of time, like the desktop.

Now you’re ready to begin. If all goes well, in a while you’ll have your video. However, there is a chance that the disc won’t work – some newer DVD’s have some methods that prevent you from doing things like this. If Handbrake doesn’t succeed, then chances are it wasn’t meant to be.

Once Handbrake says you’re done, then its time to add the video into iTunes. Just drag it into your library, and you will see iTunes copying it in. Then when you have your iPhone plugged in you can click on the “Movies” tab and select it to be added! Ta da!