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handbrake_image.pngHandBrake is a great software program, not to mention it's free, that you can use to convert your own DVDs for the purpose of putting them on a hard drive or iPod.  It's available for Mac or Windows.  You can download HandBrake here.  Once you have it installed on your computer, it's pretty easy to start converting your DVDs.

Start by inserting your DVD into your computer.  If the Apple DVD player automatically starts up, just close it.  Now open HandBrake.  Select your DVD and click Open.

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HandBrake will scan your DVD and then open the main HandBrake window.  Check the title of your movie to make sure it's selected the correct one, and set your destination file.  The default is to save it to your desktop, however you can save it wherever you want, such as an external hard drive.  Now, if you're just converting your DVD for your iPod, there's no need to keep it as such a large file or at such high quality.  You can definitely slim down your file by changing the Codec to MPEG-4 (FFmpeg) and reduce the quality by using the Constant Quality slider.  You might have to play around with the settings to find the right combination for you. 

handbrake_main_window.pngYou can also reduce the quality of your audio to slim down your file size.  Click on the Audio Tab on the HandBrake Main window and change your sample rate to 44.1 and reduce the bitrate to 128.

handbrake_audio_tab.pngYou can also cut down your screen size by clicking on Picture Settings.  Since you're just using this for your iPod, there's no sense converting a movie with a screen size twice that.  You can easily tweak the height and width of your picture to fit the size of your destination.

handbrake_picture_settings.pngOnce you have all of your settings in place, click on Start, and let her rip!  Be patient though, sometimes the process can take a while.
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