Everything You Need to Know About iTunes Movie Rentals

How to see the latest movies without waiting for streaming

Renting movies from Apple is easy whether you own an iOS device, Apple TV, a Mac or Windows PC. Apple's made a few changes from iTunes, so depending on which devices and operating systems you are using, you'll use different software to rent and watch the movie.

Here's how it breaks down if you want to rent a movie from Apple:

  • Macs running the Catalina version of macOS: Apple TV app
  • Macs running the Mojave version and earlier of macOS: iTunes
  • iOS devices: Apple TV app
  • Apple TV: Movies App
  • Windows-based PCs: iTunes

Requirements to Rent and Watch Movies From Apple

To rent movies from Apple, 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 macOS (which comes with the Apple TV app) or, if you are running an older version of macOS, the latest version of iTunes, iOS, or tvOS.

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

Cost Differences for Apple Movie Rentals

Several factors affect the price of a movie rental from Apple. The main difference is between standard- and high-definition versions. For the same movie, the HD version costs 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 as an Apple rental while it's still in theaters or even before it premieres. In both cases, you pay a premium to see the film early or to see it without leaving home.

Terms and Time Limits of Apple Movie Rentals

Two time limits are in place when it comes to Apple Movie 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 expires, and you'll have to rent it again.

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

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

How to Download Apple Movie Rentals Using Apple TV App

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

You can't download movies to the Apple TV, they can only be streamed. The same goes for any smart TV that is running the Apple TV app.

We're going to assume you've found the movie you want to rent. In order to download it for offline viewing:

  1. Select Rent and confirm payment.

  2. Select Rent and Watch Later.

  3. While still inside the Apple TV app, select Library.

  4. Selects Rentals.

  5. Select the download icon of a (cloud with a downward facing arrow) and it will begin the download to your device.

How to Download Apple Movie Rentals Using iTunes

You can still download movies via iTunes on Macs that are running the pre-Catalina operating and PCs running Windows.

These screenshots are on a Mac, but it works the same way in iTunes for Windows.

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

    The Movies entry in iTunes
  2. Click the Unwatched button.

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

Availability of Rented Movies

The Apple TV app provides a central location for all the content tied to your Apple ID, but that 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 be played on one of them at a time.

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