Everything You Need to Know About iTunes Movie Rentals

How to see the latest movies without waiting for streaming

Group of teens watching television

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If you own an Apple device, iTunes is maybe the simplest and most flexible way to rent the movies you want to see the most. You can watch recent releases along with older ones that aren't available on streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. And because the rental process ties to your Apple ID, your payment method is already in place.

Here's everything you need to know about renting movies on iTunes.

Requirements to Rent and Watch Movies on iTunes

To rent movies from the iTunes Store, you'll need an Apple ID with a valid credit or debit card on it. You'll also need a high-speed internet connection of at least 8 megabits per second for high-definition movies.

As far as software goes, you'll need the latest version of iTunes, iOS, or tvOS depending on where you're accessing iTunes.

To watch your rented movies from iTunes, you'll need one of the following:

Cost Differences for iTunes Rentals

Several factors affect the price of an iTunes rental. The main difference you'll see is between standard- and high-definition versions. For the same movie, the HD version will cost more than the SD one, but it may also include special features and content like deleted scenes and featurettes.

Other rentals are priced higher because they offer something extra. In many cases, this means that the movie is available at iTunes while it's still in theaters or even before it premieres. In both cases, you're paying a premium to see the film early or to see it without leaving home.

Terms and Time Limits of iTunes Rentals

Two time limits are in place when it comes to iTunes movie rentals.

The first determines how long you have to watch the movie after you make your purchase. You have 30 days from the day you rent to view it. If you don’t watch the film in that 30-day window, your rental will expire, and you'll have to rent it again.

The second starts once you start playing your rented movie for the first time. After hitting Play, you have 48 hours to finish watching it. If you don’t, the video will expire, and you'll need to rent it again. You can watch the movie as many times as you'd like in that period.

After you watch a movie, or if its rental period expires, iTunes will automatically remove it from your computers.

How to Download iTunes Rentals

As long as you stay connected to the internet, you don't have to download the films you rent to watch them. They'll stream directly to your computer from iTunes. But if you're going to travel, you can also download them and watch anywhere. Here's how:

The downloaded movie, like the rental listing, will leave your computer once the rental period expires.

  1. Open iTunes, and click the Movies listing under the pull-down menu in the upper-left corner of the window.

    The Movies entry in iTunes
  2. Click the Unwatched button beneath the playback window.

    The Unwatched heading in Movies in iTunes
  3. The next screen will show all of your rentals. Click the Cloud icon to download one to your computer.

Availability of Rented Movies

Apple's TV app provides a central location for all of the content tied to your Apple ID, but that freedom only extends to films and TV shows you purchase. You can watch an iTunes rental on any device you own regardless of which one you used to make the purchase, but it can only "live" on one of them at a time.

So you could buy a rental on your Mac, start it on your iPad, and then finish it on your Apple TV. But you can't watch it on your iPad and Apple TV simultaneously.