How to Convert Your Videos for the New Apple TV

The new Apple TV (s AAPL) is all about streaming online content, offering you direct access to the iTunes store as well as Netflix. (s NFLX) However, chances are you have quite a bit of digital content on your hard drives as well, whether it be homemade vacation movies or TV show episodes you downloaded from BitTorrent (of course we are only talking about legal torrent downloads here).

No worries, you can play all of this content with your Apple TV as well — you just have to convert it to a supported video file format and then share it the proper way. Simply follow our how-to, and you’re gonna be able to watch all your videos on the Apple TV in no time.

Fist, you’re going to need software to convert your video files. There are a number of programs out there that do the trick, but none is as easy to use as the Miro Video Converter, which is available for free for Windows and OS X.

Miro Video Converter has a number of presets for popular devices, but there’s no distinct preset available for the Apple TV yet. Instead, you can just select the iPad as the device of your choice: the iPad and the Apple TV share a lot of the same hardware and software roots, and both devices support the same video codecs and resolutions. Make sure you also have the Send to iTunes option enabled. That way, you won’t have to manually import your videos to iTunes after converting them.

To actually convert your files, you simply drag and drop them one by one onto the Miro Converter application, and then press the Convert button. Then it’s time to wait: Video conversion can take a while, especially if you’re working with large HD files. A fast CPU can greatly improve results, but even on my current-gen Macbook Pro, I always seem to have enough time to make and enjoy a quick Espresso while I’m converting an entire movie.

Afterwards, your movie will automatically pop up in iTunes, ready to be shared with your Apple TV. To actually enable sharing, you need to go to Advanced > Turn On Home Sharing and sign in with your iTunes account. I know, it seems unnecessary, but bear with me.

Now you’ll have to go to your Apple TV and add the shared library — something that obviously only works if your computer remains up and running. To do so, you have to select Computers – Home Sharing on your Apple TV and turn on home sharing. Here, you need to enter your Apple ID one more time, and you can decide whether you want to also use that same ID for iTunes store rentals on the device.

Done? Great, because that’s it. Your iTunes share will now show up under the Computer menu item, and you’ll be able to stream local videos just as easy as any remote content.

Another bonus: You can even access your iPhoto library or any other folder on your computer via your Apple TV this way. Simply go to Advanced > Choose Photos To Share in iTunes and select either your entire iPhoto library or select albums, events or folders.

Want to know more about how devices like the Apple TV transform the way we watch TV? Then don’t miss NewTeeVee Live 2010!

Related content on GigaOm Pro (subscription required):