Using iTunes Movie Rentals on a Computer

Rent movies from the iTunes Store and play them on your computer

Woman watching a movie on her computer at night
Guido Mieth / Getty Images

The iTunes movie rental service works smoothly. Visit the iTunes Store, find the content you want to rent, pay, and download the movie to your computer. This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of renting movies from the iTunes Store.

If you don't have an Apple ID, set up an iTunes Store account.

Find iTunes Movies to Rent

To find a movie to rent from the iTunes Store:

  1. Launch iTunes on your computer, and select Store (it's located at the top of the window).

    How to use iTunes rentals
  2. To go to the movies section of the iTunes Store, click the media drop-down arrow and select Movies.

    iTunes rentals
  3. Click any movie icon to open its information page. The information page contains trailers for the movie, cast information, and prices to buy and rent the movie.

    The newest movies may only display a buy price, but many of those movies include a date that rentals will be available.

    iTunes rentals
  4. Select either Rent HD or Rent SD to rent a movie. If Also available in SD/HD appears below the buttons, click it to choose the version you want to rent.

    The rental price for the HD version is usually higher than for the SD version.

    iTunes rental
  5. iTunes charges your account, and the rental becomes available.

Download Movies From iTunes to Your Computer

As the iTunes movie rental begins to download, a new tab appears at the top of the iTunes Movies screen entitled Rented. Go to the Rented tab to open a screen with your rental movies on it, including the one you just rented.

If you don't see the Rented tab, make sure you have Movies selected in the iTunes drop-down media menu.

It takes a while for a movie to download—how long depends on the speed of your internet connection. You don't have to download your movie to watch it; as long as you have an internet connection, you can also stream it.

If you watch movies while offline, complete the download of the movie to your laptop before you go offline.

Play iTunes Movies on Your Computer

Hover your mouse over the movie poster and click the Play button that appears to start watching the movie on your computer. Don't click on the rental movie until you are ready to watch it, though. You have 30 days to click on the rental, but once you click on it, you have only 48 hours to complete watching the movie. The rented movie expires after 30 days or 48 hours after you begin watching it, whichever comes first.

If you aren't ready to watch the movie, click on the movie poster—not the Play button—for information about the movie and the cast.

Use the Onscreen Controls

When you click the Play button on your movie, iTunes asks you to confirm that you are ready to watch and gives you a reminder that you have a limited time to watch the movie.

When the movie begins to play, move the mouse over the window to see the controls. You can play or pause the movie, fast forward or reverse, adjust the volume, or take it full-screen by clicking the arrows on the right. Most movies also include a menu of chapter bookmarks and language and captioning options.

Stream Movies From iTunes to Your Computer

Before you stream a movie on your computer, set the playback quality on your Mac or PC:

  1. In iTunes, go to the menu bar and select iTunes Preferences. Or, press Command+comma on a Mac or Ctrl+comma on a PC.

    iTunes rentals
  2. Click the Playback tab.

    iTunes movie rentals
  3. Select the Video Playback Quality drop-down arrow and choose Best Available. This option will stream the movie at the highest quality that your internet connection allows.

    iTunes movie rentals
  4. Click OK to save your changes.

When You Finish

When you finish watching the movie, you can watch it again if you like as long as you do it within the 48-hour window. The movie disappears from your computer automatically 48 hours after you first start to watch it, or 30 days after you rented it if you never watch it.

Stream a Rented iTunes Movie on Other iOS Devices

The Apple TV app provides a centralized system where you can access your iTunes rentals and purchases in one place. When you rent or buy a movie on iTunes, it shows up in the Apple TV app of every device that's signed in to the same Apple ID that rented the film.

Stream a Rented Movie From Your Computer to an Apple TV with AirPlay

If you aren't at home, but your laptop is on the same wireless network as an Apple TV, use AirPlay to stream the movie you rented on your computer to the Apple TV.

  1. Start playing the movie in iTunes.

  2. Click the AirPlay icon (it's located at the bottom of the screen).

    iTunes movie rentals
  3. Click the name of the Apple TV.

    iTunes movie rentals
  4. Press Play. The movie plays on your TV screen. Leave the computer on while it plays.