How to use Handbrake

Sometimes there is a need to convert videos to another format, add subtitles, compress to reduce file size or change the settings of the sound track. With all that copes the free utility Handbrake, which is multi-threaded videotranslation.

In this article, you’ll learn how to install Handbrake on a computer with Ubuntu or other Ubuntu-like operating system, how to use Handbrake in order to properly make the video the desired changes.

  • Install Handbrake
    • 1. Repository developers
    • 2. The Ubuntu repositories
    • 3. Using Flatpack
  • How to use Handbrake
    • 1. The program’s interface
    • 2. Converting media files
    • 3. Video compression
    • 4. Trimming video
    • 5. Optimization audio
    • 6. Insert subtitle
  • Insights

Install Handbrake

Being a user of Ubuntu or based on it the OS, you can install Handbrake in three ways: in the Ubuntu repositories, a repository developer or by the utility Flatpack.

1. Repository developers

The first thing you need to add to the list of available repositories, repository developers of the program. To do this, run the terminal command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases

sudo apt-get update

Then install the command line version of Handbrake:

sudo apt-get install handbrake-cli

And for convenience add a graphical interface:

sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk

The program will appear in Menu section Audio and video and will be fully ready to work.

2. The Ubuntu repositories

Run in terminal the following command:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt install handbrake

3. Using Flatpack

If the Flatpack is already installed in your OS, find the Handbrake app in application Manager and install it by clicking on the button to Install or Install. Be sure to scroll the settings page down, most likely, you will be prompted to install additional plugins (for example, IntelMediaSDK plugin for HandBrake).

If Flatpack is missing, you need to start its installation. Run the command:

sudo apt install flatpak

Then install the plugin to manage software:

sudo apt install gnome-software-plugin-flatpak

Add to system repository Flathub:

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub

After completing all steps, restart the computer and run the application Manager.

How to use Handbrake

The official website of the program has a detailed user manual, however, it is written only in two languages — English and German. Therefore, we tried to concisely and in an accessible form to explain the basic nuances of working with Handbrake.

1. The program’s interface

The software allows to work only with files that reside on your hard drive or SSD of your computer. To open the file, click Open source, which is located at the top left.

Next to this button are three others:

  • Add to queue — use it when you plan to delay processing already prepared a video for later. At the same time in line can be an unlimited number of files.
  • Start — video processing will start immediately after clicking on this button. During processing, the button will change to the other Stop; it allows you to immediately stop processing.
  • Pause — need to temporarily suspend processing the video.

To the right are four more buttons:

  • Preset — to select the type and the quality (resolution) video.
  • Preview — is designed to ensure that before the start of treatment to see how the image will appear in the output file.
  • Turn — the button opens a list of videos that have been queued and awaiting processing.
  • Activity — allows you to view logs of the program.

Under these buttons displays information about the open file, and below is a row of buttons to move between tabs.

At the bottom of the window is a box to enter the name — this is the title of the video will be saved on your computer. Next to this field there is a button to select the folder into which the program places the finished file.

2. Converting media files

Handbrake allows you to convert any files to mp4, mkv and webm. In order to use this option, click the Description and select one of three formats:

  • MPEG-4, if you want to get the mp4 file;
  • Matroska if you want to get a mkv file;
  • WebM, if you want to get the file

By default, the program gives the file an mp4 with the m4v extension. To change this setting, go to FileOptions and uncheck the box next to Use friendly iPod/iTunes file extension (.m4v) for MP4.

3. Video compression

Let’s see how to compress video Handbrake. In the tab Video has a set of settings, which is a compression of the image. In particular, to reduce the file size you can:

  • changing the video codec standard for most of the clips in H. 264 to another (for example MPEG-4 or MPEG-2);
  • reducing the frame rate;
  • reducing the bitrate.

Reducing the frame rate and bitrate, do not overdo it, otherwise you will suffer video quality. Also the image quality is affected by the processing speed of the file, so if you have enough time, drag the slider next to the options Preset to the right. By default, the speed of handling is medium, but it is advisable to change it to slow, slower or very slow.

4. Trimming video

If necessary, using Handbrake you can crop video in two ways:

  • automatically to remove the black bars on the sides;
  • manually crop the image.

In order to remove the black bars, go to image Size and set the checkbox next to the option auto-crop black bars. Nothing more needs to be done.

If you want to crop the video manually, check the option Arbitrary cropping and specify the size of the fields that will be cropped. To leave any of the parties to the uncircumcised, put in the corresponding cell to 0.

Will look like after cropping the image can be viewed by clicking the Preview button.

5. Optimization audio

Handbrake also allows you to work with sound tracks. By clicking on Audio and selecting the menu item the track List, you will see a list of all sound recording attached to the video. You can delete them by clicking on the x located in front, or to optimize, by clicking on the pencil.

Optimization consists of setting the plurality of parameters. In particular, you have the opportunity:

  • to select the audio codec for the track;
  • specify the bitrate and quality;
  • to install the mixing of the channels;
  • specify the sampling frequency;
  • to adjust the gain or attenuation of a sound track.

Don’t forget to register for the name of the track — you will need it when you select the voice in the player.

Please note that even if initially you have only one audio track, you can create several audio options. To do this, click Add.

If you have multiple audio tracks, work with each of them in turn. Make the desired track is active, by clicking on the name with the left mouse button, then select the menu item Selected track. Here, the same way you can create from one track to several audio options, using the button Add (located at the bottom left).

6. Insert subtitle

In order to add to the video subtitles you first need to create a file with the extension srt or ssa, within which to register the timecodes and the text that will be displayed on the screen. Internal Handbrake it can be done, so work will have a simple text editor like Nano. To popular movies and video clips you can find on the Internet ready files with subtitles.

If you already have an srt or ssa file, click Subtitle, click the track List and click Add.

In the new opened window:

  • select the type of uploaded file;
  • enter the name of the track (it will be shown in the list of the subtitles when viewing the video in the player);
  • select subtitle language and text encoding;
  • if you are using downloaded from the Internet subtitles, timecodes where phrases do not coincide with a soundtrack of your videos, correct it by specifying the offset; otherwise, leave the value zero;
  • select the file that contains the subtitles;
  • give the program indicating how it should be added the subtitles superimposed on the video (in the future they will not be able to enable and disable) or written as a separate track.


Our instruction came to an end. Even if you had not had to work with Handbrake, now you will be able to figure out how to add subtitles to videos, change the video format or reduce the file size by compressing images. You can’t do something and need help from experienced users? Leave your question in the comments and wait for a response.


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