One of HandBrake’s strengths is its ability to open a wide variety of video formats. HandBrake uses Libav under the hood and generally can open whatever Libav will, in addition to disc-based formats like DVD and Blu-ray.
Note: HandBrake does not defeat or circumvent copy protection of any kind. It does not work with video files employing Digital Rights Management (DRM). See About HandBrake for more information about what HandBrake does and does not.
Videos made by mobile phones, tablets, and many video cameras and DSLRs
Typically, each video will be a single file that you can copy to your computer, and later open using HandBrake. Common video file types are MP4 or M4V, MOV, MPG or MPEG, and AVI.
Some cameras store multiple videos in a folder structure with a playlist similar to Blu-ray discs, specifically cameras that record in AVCHD or AVCHD Lite. HandBrake may be able to open individual video files from the Stream folder inside the BDMV folder. In some cases this is not reliable, e.g. where a single video stream spans multiple files.
Screen and game recordings, web videos, video editing projects, and other computer-related sources
Some screen recording softwares can export or record directly to video files HandBrake can open. Common video file types are MP4 or M4V, MKV, MPG or MPEG, AVI, and WMV.
HandBrake can open web videos in FLV, WEBM, MP4, and many other formats.
Videos made using consumer video editing software such as iMovie must first be exported to a common video format for compatibility with HandBrake.
Professional video production formats
HandBrake can open a number of production formats produced by professional video cameras and NLEs, including ProRes and DNxHD.
DVD, Blu-ray, AVCHD/AVCHD Lite1, and HD-DVD2 discs or disc backups
HandBrake can directly open DVD and Blu-ray discs. In most situations it is better to first copy the contents to your computer’s hard drive3. Common folders are VIDEO_TS and BDMV. Common video file types are VOB, EVO, and MTS or M2TS.
Certain third-party disc copy tools such as MakeMKV commonly make… wait for it… MKV video files. Other tools create ISO (sometimes labeled CDR) images of DVD and Blu-ray discs. HandBrake usually can open these directly.
BIN+CUE, MDF+MDS, and Toast images must first be mounted. Open the image using your operating system or appropriate software, and then open the virtual disc with HandBrake.
Broadcast TV recordings
HandBrake can open common video file types produced by TV recording hardware and software such as TS/MTS/M2TS, MP4 or M4V, and MPG or MPEG.
Recordings made by TV-to-DVD recorders are generally supported, but do note that some recorders are known for poorly making discs. Some discs may not work due to mastering errors.
Digital recordings of VHS, Beta, Video8/Hi8, LaserDisc, and other analog sources
First convert your analog video to digital using a computer-based hardware recording device such as the Blackmagic Design Intensity. It is important to choose a recording device and software that allows recording to or exporting to common video formats. HandBrake can open many common video files produced by recording software, including but not limited to TS/MTS/M2TS, MP4 or M4V, MOV, MKV, MPG or MPEG, and AVI.