iTunes Store HD Movies Don’t Play on My Monitor: Solutions

iTunes Store HD Movies Don’t Play on My Monitor: Solutions 1

Yesterday, Apple announced that the iTunes Store was now selling $20 high-definition movies for viewing on a computer, as well as renting computer-ready versions for $4-$5 in the same way that it has been through the Apple TV. In an impressive, though space-consuming feat, Apple provides users with both a high-definition video for computer and Apple TV use, as well as one that’s lower-resolution and capable of being played on your iPod or iPhone. The test video we downloaded, Punisher: War Zone, came in a 3.09GB, 1280×532 file, as well as a DVD-quality 1.15GB, 853×354 version. Unfortunately, the HD version refused to play back from a current-model MacBook through a high-definition external monitor—even an Apple Cinema Display.

iTunes Store HD Movies Don’t Play on My Monitor: Solutions 2

If you’re using a relatively new Mac, specifically one with a Mini DisplayPort connector, and trying to play iTunes Store HD movies through any external monitor other than Apple’s recently-released 24” LED Cinema Display, you’re most likely out of luck. Click on the video and iTunes will give you an error message: “This movie cannot be played because a display that is not authorized to play protected movies is connected. Try disconnecting any displays that are not HDCP authorized.” Try again to play it, and the video playback window will appear, completely black, and no audio will be present. But if you try to play the same video on the screen built into your Mac, or on Apple’s LED Cinema Display, it will work just as expected.

 

iTunes Store HD Movies Don’t Play on My Monitor: Solutions 3

The reasons for this error message are simple: Apple has started to support HDCP, “high-bandwidth digital content protection,” an Intel-developed way to stop high-definition videos from being played on older, less secure receiving devices. Virtually all VGA- and DVI connector-equipped external computer monitors sold in the past are non-compliant, so users of Apple’s latest Mini DisplayPort-based Mac computers will need to either watch the HD videos on the screens built into their computers, buy new, HDCP-compliant monitors, or transfer their files to an iTunes-authorized computer without Mini DisplayPort.

 

iTunes Store HD Movies Don’t Play on My Monitor: Solutions 4

That latter option is available because Apple does not appear to enforce HDCP protection on earlier computers. We tested the same HD video on an older, DVI connector-equipped Mac mini with the same prior-generation Cinema Display, and it played without incident—as soon as we installed iTunes 8.1. iTunes 8.0.2 refused to play the HD movie at all, suggesting that iTunes would not authorize the video for that computer.

 

iTunes Store HD Movies Don’t Play on My Monitor: Solutions 5

Even though Apple includes both HD and SD versions of videos when you make an HD movie purchase, iTunes doesn’t currently handle external monitor playback in an especially bright way. The HDCP error message is basically a dead-end, offering no obvious solution or alternative for users who want to watch the videos they’ve just purchased on their external monitors. Thankfully, there is an option. Right click on the movie, and an option will appear in the list of choices: “Version.” By “Default,” iTunes selects HD. But by selecting “Standard Definition (SD),” iTunes will play that movie on an external monitor—at the standard-definition resolution. It doesn’t make the best use of the monitor’s capabilities, but at least users can watch part of what they’ve purchased.

 

iTunes Store HD Movies Don’t Play on My Monitor: Solutions 6

Also note that HDCP isn’t required for all HD videos. High-definition TV shows purchased through the iTunes Store will generally play back on both a computer and an external monitor without a fuss—a reason that users most likely haven’t come across this error message up until now. And homemade HD videos created by high-definition camcorders also play back without any sort of issue.

In any case, iTunes needs to be fixed to deal more appropriately with HDCP-locked content. Assuming that Apple can’t let users play back all the videos they’ve purchased on all their other monitors, the company should warn users conspicuously before purchase that the HD videos may not be viewable on virtually any external display they may own. It should also transform its current error message box to offer an automatic “watch standard-definition version instead” option. Given that the company has been pitching the “MacBook Plus External Monitor” solution for some time now, and also offers desktop machines that will suffer the same blacked out video phenomenon with many external monitors, these simple if not entirely satisfying options will at least save users the hassle of trying to figure out how to watch the videos they’ve just purchased on the monitors they own.

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  1. I’ve recently updated my macbook pro (including the itunes update) and now neither the HD or SD will play on the laptop monitor at all! I’ve watched HD and SD on it before and since the update nothing will play. I’ve made sure the macbook is authorized and tried about 10 other work arounds and still I get the gray screen. Any suggestions?

  2. I’ve recently updated my macbook pro (including the itunes update) and now neither the HD or SD will play on the laptop monitor at all! I’ve watched HD and SD on it before and since the update nothing will play. I’ve made sure the macbook is authorized and tried about 10 other work arounds and still I get the gray screen. Any suggestions?

  3. Why do people buy products Apple when they continue to lock down there devices and frustrate the consumer. Currently experiencing the same problem with my very expensive iPad using the Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter.

  4. Why do people buy products Apple when they continue to lock down there devices and frustrate the consumer. Currently experiencing the same problem with my very expensive iPad using the Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter.

  5. When connect to an external analog monitor, use the overscan setting to get rid of the black bars on the sides. You can find this in the system preferences/ display pane when connected to an external analog display. Worked for me.

  6. When connect to an external analog monitor, use the overscan setting to get rid of the black bars on the sides. You can find this in the system preferences/ display pane when connected to an external analog display. Worked for me.

  7. What kills me is that I go out of my way to pay for an HD movie on itunes that I CANNOT watch in HD… When I could have found and downloaded the HD movie for free elsewhere. Probably faster.
    Stop punishing the people who have actually paid for your content.

  8. What kills me is that I go out of my way to pay for an HD movie on itunes that I CANNOT watch in HD… When I could have found and downloaded the HD movie for free elsewhere. Probably faster.
    Stop punishing the people who have actually paid for your content.

  9. I just downloaded free tv episodes that won’t play on the ipod or the tower. at least they were free. this really is B.S.
    Why do they even care what monitor we have? geeeze.

  10. The simple answer is because the movie and TV studios are so extremely over-the-top paranoid about people copying their stuff that they force Apple and other content distributors and manufacturers to add all of these extra restrictions. If your monitor isn’t capable of proving that it’s only a monitor or TV then it’s assumed that it’s something insidious like a DVD recorder and you’re therefore capable of pirating the TV show you’re downloading.

  11. I just downloaded free tv episodes that won’t play on the ipod or the tower. at least they were free. this really is B.S.
    Why do they even care what monitor we have? geeeze.

  12. The simple answer is because the movie and TV studios are so extremely over-the-top paranoid about people copying their stuff that they force Apple and other content distributors and manufacturers to add all of these extra restrictions. If your monitor isn’t capable of proving that it’s only a monitor or TV then it’s assumed that it’s something insidious like a DVD recorder and you’re therefore capable of pirating the TV show you’re downloading.

  13. You actually can play the movie that you bought from itunes however it wont play in HD. The key is to go into your itunes folder>itunes media>movies, then select the folder for the movie you wish to watch and play the standard definition m4v file with quicktime. Not the hi definition picture you may have wanted but atleast you can watch it on your TV

  14. You actually can play the movie that you bought from itunes however it wont play in HD. The key is to go into your itunes folder>itunes media>movies, then select the folder for the movie you wish to watch and play the standard definition m4v file with quicktime. Not the hi definition picture you may have wanted but atleast you can watch it on your TV

  15. You actually don’t even need to go that far. Simply right-click on the movie or TV show in iTunes and choose [i]Version[/i] from the context menu that appears. You can then select Standard Definition and iTunes will play that instead of the HD version.

    You can also set ALL of your movies and TV shows to use the Standard Definition versions by default by selecting the appropriate option on the Playback tab in your iTunes Preferences.

  16. You actually don’t even need to go that far. Simply right-click on the movie or TV show in iTunes and choose [i]Version[/i] from the context menu that appears. You can then select Standard Definition and iTunes will play that instead of the HD version.

    You can also set ALL of your movies and TV shows to use the Standard Definition versions by default by selecting the appropriate option on the Playback tab in your iTunes Preferences.

  17. Well it was bound to happen sooner or later, Apple seems to be returning to the take it or leave it attitude I remember from back in the 80’s and early 90’s that nearly destroyed their company. They took their customers for granted, so their customers went to other manufacturers.

    I doubt they will be able to count of the design/illustration industries to keep them a float this time, since apple threw that customer base to the road side soon as the company regained traction in 2000.

  18. Well it was bound to happen sooner or later, Apple seems to be returning to the take it or leave it attitude I remember from back in the 80’s and early 90’s that nearly destroyed their company. They took their customers for granted, so their customers went to other manufacturers.

    I doubt they will be able to count of the design/illustration industries to keep them a float this time, since apple threw that customer base to the road side soon as the company regained traction in 2000.

  19. Bye bye iTunes. Hello piracy. It sucks that someone totally willing and able to pay for content is encouraged to turn to illegal content because legal content is unusable.
    I would call that a fail on the industry side.
    People are going to steal your stuff, that’s life. You can’t stop them, not really. But if you make buying it legally a bad choice (like you can’t enjoy the experience of consuming your product) people will not feel so bad about stealing your stuff because “if I’m going to be punished anyway…”

  20. Bye bye iTunes. Hello piracy. It sucks that someone totally willing and able to pay for content is encouraged to turn to illegal content because legal content is unusable.
    I would call that a fail on the industry side.
    People are going to steal your stuff, that’s life. You can’t stop them, not really. But if you make buying it legally a bad choice (like you can’t enjoy the experience of consuming your product) people will not feel so bad about stealing your stuff because “if I’m going to be punished anyway…”

  21. … I can’t vouch for Apple when they do stuff like this… I can’t watch old episodes of the Boondocks that I purchased because of this crap… what if I can’t afford to buy a freaking HD TV? itunes gonna give me my money back? cuz I’m not spending hundreds of dollars to see something I legally purchased for a couple bucks!

  22. … I can’t vouch for Apple when they do stuff like this… I can’t watch old episodes of the Boondocks that I purchased because of this crap… what if I can’t afford to buy a freaking HD TV? itunes gonna give me my money back? cuz I’m not spending hundreds of dollars to see something I legally purchased for a couple bucks!

  23. As others have pointed out, this is NOT Apple’s idea. They have two simple choices:
    * do not sell any of the most popular movies and TV shows
    * sell DRM’ed versions of them which require a full HDCP chain to display

    If you were a business, would you choose to not serve the portion of your customer base who has an HDCP chain? Or would you choose to play ball with the studios and do it the way they insist upon?

    I’d do just what Apple is doing, myself… if they gain enough market share they can put pressure on the studios to relax these restrictions. It worked with the music industry – iTunes used to sell only DRM’ed music but now has everything available in iTunes Plus with no DRM.

    Hopefully, they will help the studios see the light as well.

  24. As others have pointed out, this is NOT Apple’s idea. They have two simple choices:
    * do not sell any of the most popular movies and TV shows
    * sell DRM’ed versions of them which require a full HDCP chain to display

    If you were a business, would you choose to not serve the portion of your customer base who has an HDCP chain? Or would you choose to play ball with the studios and do it the way they insist upon?

    I’d do just what Apple is doing, myself… if they gain enough market share they can put pressure on the studios to relax these restrictions. It worked with the music industry – iTunes used to sell only DRM’ed music but now has everything available in iTunes Plus with no DRM.

    Hopefully, they will help the studios see the light as well.

  25. Should I pay an additional $99.00 for Apple TV so I can watch an iTunes TV, which cost ~$30.00, using a computer HDVI monitor connected to my MACBook Pro? DA

  26. Apple TV at acost of an additional $99.00

    Just an idea, Apple TV at acost of an additional $99.00 will allow you to view/hear all iTunes purchased content is this good or is Apple forcing users to pay more for content protection. Apple stock sell for ~$700.00 a share, it seems that Apple could better protected iTunes media content with-out the Apple TV.

  27. Should I pay an additional $99.00 for Apple TV so I can watch an iTunes TV, which cost ~$30.00, using a computer HDVI monitor connected to my MACBook Pro? DA

  28. Apple TV at acost of an additional $99.00

    Just an idea, Apple TV at acost of an additional $99.00 will allow you to view/hear all iTunes purchased content is this good or is Apple forcing users to pay more for content protection. Apple stock sell for ~$700.00 a share, it seems that Apple could better protected iTunes media content with-out the Apple TV.

  29. I purchased a movie for my kids on iTunes called “The Smurfs” – it is the first time I’ve purchased a movie on iTunes. It was downloaded to our iPad on holiday. When I tried to play it for my kids on the HD TV with an HDMI output it would not play giving an error message something about HDCP copy protection. When we got back home the same thing happened. As they are little kids we do not allow them to use the iPad so we are not willing to show them the movie on the iPad. This is incredibly frustrating and of course my kids were very disappointed on holiday. I have Googled this problem and see it is another outrageous attempt at Apple trying to sneakily limit and solicit money from consumers in an underhanded way. I went back to iTunes to check and two things became clear:

    1. On iTunes, HD download is set as the default in a tiny little button – it does not even look like a button but rather it looks like that is just telling you what the movie format is in. It certainly does not look like the other buttons such as “Details, Ratings and Reviews, Related” which are round and have a little arrow pointing to them – and they are a different colour grey.

    2. There is NO mention of this HDCP thing anywhere on the page. There is no warning that this movie can only be played on certain formats or is limited to the device you are downloading it to.

    I would like a refund please.

    It is the last time I buy anything from the iTunes store! And I am certainly going to blog and Facebook about this. It is outrageous considering how expensive the movie download was – its far cheaper to buy the DVD on the internet! Selfish Apple strikes again…

  30. I purchased a movie for my kids on iTunes called “The Smurfs” – it is the first time I’ve purchased a movie on iTunes. It was downloaded to our iPad on holiday. When I tried to play it for my kids on the HD TV with an HDMI output it would not play giving an error message something about HDCP copy protection. When we got back home the same thing happened. As they are little kids we do not allow them to use the iPad so we are not willing to show them the movie on the iPad. This is incredibly frustrating and of course my kids were very disappointed on holiday. I have Googled this problem and see it is another outrageous attempt at Apple trying to sneakily limit and solicit money from consumers in an underhanded way. I went back to iTunes to check and two things became clear:

    1. On iTunes, HD download is set as the default in a tiny little button – it does not even look like a button but rather it looks like that is just telling you what the movie format is in. It certainly does not look like the other buttons such as “Details, Ratings and Reviews, Related” which are round and have a little arrow pointing to them – and they are a different colour grey.

    2. There is NO mention of this HDCP thing anywhere on the page. There is no warning that this movie can only be played on certain formats or is limited to the device you are downloading it to.

    I would like a refund please.

    It is the last time I buy anything from the iTunes store! And I am certainly going to blog and Facebook about this. It is outrageous considering how expensive the movie download was – its far cheaper to buy the DVD on the internet! Selfish Apple strikes again…

  31. Speaking as a dork technophone.

    Having just invested about $20 in downloading “The Bourne Legacy” on my iPad3 – and then being told when I connect it to my TV to play back that – it isn’t (f******g) compatible – or some such bull**** – you can perhaps guess just how may more films I am likely to buy on iTunes!

  32. Speaking as a dork technophone.

    Having just invested about $20 in downloading “The Bourne Legacy” on my iPad3 – and then being told when I connect it to my TV to play back that – it isn’t (f******g) compatible – or some such bull**** – you can perhaps guess just how may more films I am likely to buy on iTunes!

  33. I’ve encountered this exact same problem. It irks me to no end. In my office I have an old 23 inch apple studio display (very expensive from 2003) which still looks beautiful. It’s connected to my spare MBP13, and I use it to watch tv and movies. However none of my HD content purchased from Apple will play on the external monitor.

    Being an apple user for more than 20 years, I decided to research Apple’s competitor (Google).

    Please don’t call me a fanboy, but Google has the same exact restrictions in it’s “Google Play” store (for Android).

    It looks like I’m unable to post links here, so Google this phrase (without the quotes) and look at the first result (on support-dot-google-dot-com/googleplay…)

    “google play store movies hdmi out android”

    Quote:
    To watch movies or TV shows from Google Play on your HDTV, you’ll need:

    an HDTV that supports High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP)—check your tv manufacturer’s website to see if your HDTV is HDCP compliant
    a Micro-HDMI to HDMI cable or an MHL adapter and HDMI cable, depending on your device

    i.e., this means you can connect an android device to an HDCP device, via HDMI only (not an analog adapter).

  34. I’ve encountered this exact same problem. It irks me to no end. In my office I have an old 23 inch apple studio display (very expensive from 2003) which still looks beautiful. It’s connected to my spare MBP13, and I use it to watch tv and movies. However none of my HD content purchased from Apple will play on the external monitor.

    Being an apple user for more than 20 years, I decided to research Apple’s competitor (Google).

    Please don’t call me a fanboy, but Google has the same exact restrictions in it’s “Google Play” store (for Android).

    It looks like I’m unable to post links here, so Google this phrase (without the quotes) and look at the first result (on support-dot-google-dot-com/googleplay…)

    “google play store movies hdmi out android”

    Quote:
    To watch movies or TV shows from Google Play on your HDTV, you’ll need:

    an HDTV that supports High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP)—check your tv manufacturer’s website to see if your HDTV is HDCP compliant
    a Micro-HDMI to HDMI cable or an MHL adapter and HDMI cable, depending on your device

    i.e., this means you can connect an android device to an HDCP device, via HDMI only (not an analog adapter).

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