How-To: Sync AVI Files to Your iPhone

Whether you’ve had them floating around on your hard drive for a while, or you’ve been meddling in the torrent side of life, you probably have a few AVI files somewhere on your Mac. The trouble with AVI is the iPhone and most native mac applications don’t understand what to do with it.

To get an AVI into iTunes and then onto your iPhone, there are two methods you can use, both of which work equally well. However, both require downloading additional software.

Method One: Export from QuickTime

This method is fairly easy as you don’t have to learn to use a new program. On the other hand, I prefer to use method two below as it doesn’t take quite so long to process each file, in my case anyway. To use this method, you will need either QuickTime 7 Pro, which costs $30, or QuickTime X (part of the Snow Leopard package). You will also need to download Perian, which is a free preference pane and enables QuickTime to play AVI files, among other file types.

  1. Once you’ve downloaded and installed Perian, open your AVI file using QuickTime.
  2. QuickTime 7: To convert the file to a format which your iPhone recognizes, choose File > Export… then select a format from the dropdown list; MPEG-4 or iPhone are the best options to choose for this purpose. Choose where to save the new file and hit OK. QuickTime X: QuickTime X can send the file directly into iTunes, which saves a bit of time in the long run. Choose Share > iTunes… and you’ll be presented with three size options. Sometimes only iPhone will be available to select, but this is fine because that’s where we want to watch the AVI. Click Share and QuickTime will export the file directly into iTunes.
  3. You only need to continue with this step if you used QuickTime 7 previously. Once your file has been exported to your hard drive, all that’s left to do is drag it into iTunes, where it will be added to your library and can be synced to your iPhone.

Method Two: Convert Using ffmpegx

As I mentioned before, I prefer this method over the other because I find it faster. Also, using specialist conversion software can get you all the customisation features of QuickTime 7, without the price tag. The application I use is ffmpegx, which is shareware, but can be downloaded for free for our purpose with no limits or expiration dates. It also offers many options for conversion, including a whole host of preset options.

  1. Download and install ffmpegx and the additional files it needs to run.
  2. Drag and drop your AVI file into the From box in the left pane to have ffmpegx locate and open the file.
  3. Click Save As… and choose a file name and location for the converted file.
  4. In the To box in the right pane, click the downward arrow to access a dropdown list of preset file options. Alternatively, use the tabs at the top of the pane to access full customisation options.
  5. Click Encode and the program will do the rest. You can queue up additional files while that one is encoding if you wish.
  6. When the file has been converted, drop it into iTunes to add it to your library and put it onto your iPhone.

So there you have it: two ways of adding AVI files to your iPhone. I encourage you to try out both methods to find the one which works best for your needs. Or, perhaps, if you know of a better way, post it in the comments below for everyone to try out.