How to Install and Use Handbrake on Ubuntu

Learn how to install and use the handbrake video transcoder to convert videos into various formats and reduce their size without compromising on the video quality.

Install and Use Handbrake on Ubuntu
Install and Use Handbrake on Ubuntu

Handbrake is an open-source video transcoder software that helps you manipulate and optimize your videos for your needs. This software allows you to convert videos into various formats with a lot of customization options such as adjusting the quality, resolution, bitrate, and more. Handbrake supports a variety of tools such as FFmpeg, x264, and x265 to help you create mp4 and MKV video files.

Apart from video formats, you also get to make your video files smaller so that they take up less space with minimum quality loss. This is made possible with the highly efficient compression algorithm. On top of all that, handbrake helps you crop and resize your videos as you wish.

Note: One cannot use handbrake to manipulate copyright protected DVDs and Blu-Rays for redistribution.

Handbrake is now available for Linux users, Mac, and Windows thanks to the latest release version 1.5.1. In this guide, we'll take you through the steps to install and use Handbrake on Ubuntu Linux. Let's get started.

Installing Handbrake on Ubuntu

Method 1

Start by running a system update command to keep everything to the latest releases. This minimizes room for errors. Use the command below to perform a system update.

sudo apt update

In this method, we use the APT package manager to install the stable handbrake package. Run the following command to perform the installation.

sudo apt install handbrake

The command above gets all the dependencies required by the software and installs them into your system.

Launching handbrake

After the installation, launch Handbrake with the following command from the terminal.




Method 2

In this method, we use the Flatpak framework to install the handbrake software. Let's start by installing Flatpak into the system if it is not already installed.

sudo apt install flatpak -y


sudo apt install gnome-software-plugin-flatpak

You can use either of the commands above. The difference is that the first command installs the core flatpak software which allows you to handle flatpack packages from the command line. The second command installs the GNOME software plugin for Flatpak which enables the graphical management of the Flatpak application.

Once Flatpak is installed into the system, enable the Flatpak repository with the following command.

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

Once the process is complete, reboot your system to refresh all the system memory registers.

sudo reboot

Now that Flatpak is ready, we can install Handbrake with the following command.

sudo flatpak install flathub fr.handbrake.ghb

Launching handbrake with Flatpak

Now that handbrake is installed, you can run the application with the following command.

flatpak run fr.handbrake.ghb

You can also launch Handbrake using the graphical user interface from the Application Menu. Search for Handbrake in the search menu and click to run.

Method 3

The third and last method in this guide is installing Handbrake from the source code. This method is for experienced Linux users. Learn more about rebuilding a package from a source

Ensure you have git and other developer tools. Install them with the commands below.

sudo apt-get install -y git autoconf automake autopoint appstream build-essential cmake libass-dev libbz2-dev libfontconfig1-dev libfreetype6-dev libfribidi-dev libharfbuzz-dev libjansson-dev liblzma-dev libmp3lame-dev libnuma-dev libogg-dev libopus-dev libsamplerate-dev libspeex-dev libtheora-dev libtool libtool-bin libturbojpeg0-dev libvorbis-dev libx264-dev libxml2-dev libvpx-dev m4 make meson nasm ninja-build patch pkg-config python3 tar zlib1g-dev nasm

The next step is to download Handbrake's source code.

git clone

Once downloaded, move it to a secure location using the command below.

cd into the handbrake's directory and build the package.

cd /opt/handbrake
./configure --launch-jobs=$(nproc) --launch 

If you are on a non-GTK version of Ubuntu or any Ubuntu flavor that does not use GTK, you can run the command without GTK as shown:

./configure --launch-jobs=$(nproc) --launch --disable-gtk

Next, move to the build directory and run make.

sudo make --directory=build install

How to use the Handbrake software

Launching the software opens the user interface that seems complex at first but very easy to use when you understand where everything is. Let's see how to use the handbrake software in this section.

This is the image you see for the first time after launching Handbrake. All you have to do here is select the video file you want to manipulate using Handbrake. You can also select a folder with multiple videos. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the files into the software. Whatever works for you. If you don't get this window, you can click on the open source button at the top left corner of the user interface.

After selecting the video, you get this new window with all the options you can play with in Handbrake.


If you are not familiar with handbrake, there are already made presets with different settings you can use to help you accomplish what you want without breaking a sweat.

Choose from the presets provided and click on the Start Encode button to start the conversion process.

If you choose not to use presets, you can use your own settings and save it as a preset afterward. Let's try to use custom settings.

Custom settings

With custom settings, you get more control over what the output should be. The tabs shown in the image below are what we tweak in this demonstration.

The first tab Summary shows a brief of the settings you have chosen for your project.

The Dimensions tab has more options. In this section, you can crop your video to whatever you want. Flip the video, Change the resolution of the video, and add borders to your videos if you wish. At the bottom of this tab, you get the final dimensions that you have set. This stage is all about preference, so make the changes as you see fit.

The filters tab does exactly what the name says. In this tab, you can change your video to grayscale, and sharpen the video among other options. Play with the setting until you get what you like.

The next tab is the video tab. In this tab, you get to choose the type of software to do the encoding. If you don't know what to choose, most users will go with either H.264 or H.265. H.265 is a successor to H.264 and although there isn't much of a difference H.265 is superior. However, keep in mind the platform that the output will be uploaded to because some still don't accept the new encoding. Still in this window, there is an option to change the framerate of the video and the quality. In the quality section, use the quality slider to choose the definition of the video. For high-definition content, it is recommended that the slider is between 20 and 23 RF. This is helpful when you want to have your video in a small size without too much compromise in the video quality.

You can also choose the Encoder speed under the Encoder options.  In this section, choosing fast will impact the quality of the video negatively. Slow encoding ensures that the encoder takes its time to produce great image quality and this also reduces the size of the output. In most cases, the medium speed is the way to go. It balances between the speed and the quality of the output.

The next tab is the Audio tab which in most cases is left to default. Here you can change the codec and the bitrate.

You can also change the Subtitles and Chapters of the video (Not very important) in the remaining tabs.

Saving Presets

After customizing all the settings yourself, you should save them for future use. This way, you won't have to repeat the process again to get a similar output. To save a preset, click on the button above the customization tabs.

Give it a name and a description if you choose then press the Add button.

Once the preset is saved and you are ready to start the conversion, press the start Encode button and wait for it to finish.


This guide shows how to install and use the Handbrake software on Ubuntu. It shows how to use presets to convert your videos, create your own presets, and also use custom settings to manipulate your video. If you found the guide helpful, consider sharing it and subscribing to Geekbits.

Thanks for reading : )

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