Change iTunes Video Quality on iPhone, Mac and Apple TV

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Change iTunes Video Quality on iPhone, Mac and Apple TV

iTunes offers 1080p video quality, however, not everyone wants to download large video files. This article covers how to change iTunes video quality settings on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV and Mac.

Why Change iTunes Video Quality?

The 1080p video content on iTunes offers remarkable resolution and a high frame rate. Unfortunately, this means you have to download very large files. A 48 minute episode of Breaking Bad is a whopping 1.89 GB at 1080p. Depending on the device you will watch this on, 1080p may be overkill. If you have an Apple TV 2, for instance, it only displays video in 720p. There’s no sense downloading 1080p if you end up watching it on an Apple TV 2.

Many people have limited Internet access. Some have a cap on the amount they can download. Others must pay for each gigabyte of data downloaded. This is common with data plans for the iPhone. If this is the case, you can avoid costly data charges by changing the iTunes video quality setting.

How to Change iTunes Video Quality on the iPhone

There is no global setting on the iPhone to change video quality. It is possible to do this with iTunes on the Mac, which is covered in this article. Users can adjust the video quality of iTunes Movie Trailers. It is also possible to download an HD purchase from the iTunes store as SD.

iTunes Movie Trailers is not a stock app on the iPhone. It is a free download from the App Store. Once you have it installed, you can adjust video quality by playing back a trailer. Press the SD or HD button to toggle between standard definition and high-definition videos.

adjust video quality for the Trailers app

If you have purchased an HD movie or TV show in iTunes, it is possible to download the SD version on your iOS device. Unfortunately, Apple’s support site presents misleading information on how to do this. This cannot be done from the Downloads screen in the iTunes Store app. Instead, go to the screen which allows you to purchase the movie or show. From here, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap on “Also available in SD”.

select SD content from the iTunes Store

You can also do this from the individual episode’s screen. Finally, tap the download button for the movie or TV show. It will download in SD instead of HD.

Unfortunately, you cannot change HD video quality (720p vs. 1080p) directly on your iOS device. This can only be done using iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC. This article covers how to change this setting on the Mac. Changing the HD video quality setting is global — it will change the setting on all devices using your Apple ID. (continue…)

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  1. I always select hd but when I check my I tunes purchase it shows as sd I play through Apple TV and through my projector how can I get full hd

  2. This was great info because I could not find where to rent SD movies. However, they aren’t $1 cheaper any more. Same price as HD.

    1. Thanks for letting me know about SD movie pricing. It’s a surprising move, but I guess there aren’t that many people who buy or rent SD movies anymore, so few will complain. I will update the article soon.

  3. I have an iPod Nano 7th Gen and it won’t let me put my two movies onto the iPod because it says High Quality SD is not supported. Is there a way to change the quality of the movies so that it will be able to go on my iPod?

    1. Yes. You have to go into iTunes and set the video quality. First, start iTunes on your computer. Click on iTunes > Preferences from the top menu and then click on the Store tab. Un-check “Download high-quality SD videos” and then click OK. Next, delete the movies from iTunes, then download them again. The videos should now sync over to your iPod Nano.

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