Using iTunes Movie Rentals on a Computer

Woman watching a movie at night
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The iTunes movie rental service works just about as smoothly as all the other services you’ve come to expect from the iTunes Store. Just 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.

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Finding iTunes Movies to Rent

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

  1. Launch iTunes on your computer.
  2. Go to the movies section of the iTunes Store by clicking on the drop-down media menu and selecting Movies. Click on Store at the top of the screen to open the iTunes Movie screen.
  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 to rent the movie. The newest movies won't display a rental price, only a buy price, but many of those movies will say when the movie will be available for rent.
  4. Click the Rent HD or Rent SD button to rent a movie. Toggle between HD and SD with the button beneath the rental price. The rental price for the HD version is usually higher than for the SD version.
  5. Your iTunes account is charged the rental price and the download begins. 
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Downloading Movies From iTunes to Your Computer

As the iTunes movie rental begins to download, a new tab appears at the top of iTunes Movies screen entitled Rented. Click on 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 can begin watching the movie as soon as enough of it has downloaded to begin. 

If you are in the habit of watching movies while you are offline, say on an airplane, you'll need to complete the download of the movie to your laptop before you go offline. 

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When You Are Ready to Watch

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 24 hours to complete watching the movie. The rented movie expires after 30 days or 24 hours after you begin watching it, whichever comes first.

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

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Using the Onscreen Controls

When you click the Play button on your movie, iTunes asks you to confirm you are ready to watch and gives you a reminder that you have 24 hours to watch this movie.

When the movie begins to play, move your mouse over the window to see the controls. With these familiar 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 far right. Most movies also include a menu of chapter bookmarks and language and captioning options.

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Streaming Movies From iTunes to Your Computer

Starting with macOS Sierra and Windows iTunes 12.5, some movies are available for streaming, rather than as downloads. If streaming is available for the movie you rent, you can start watching the movie immediately. The movie streams at the highest quality suitable for your computer.

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

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Select iTunes > Preferences from the iTunes menu bar.
  3. Click Playback.
  4. Select Best Available in the drop-down menu next to Playback Quality.
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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 24-hour window. The movie disappears from your computer automatically 24 hours after you first start to watch it, or 30 days after you rented it if you never watch it.

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Streaming a Rented Movie From Your Computer to Your Apple TV

If you have an Apple TV on the same wireless Wi-Fi network as your computer, you can use AirPlay to stream the movie you rented on your computer to the Apple TV. To do so:

  • Turn on the Apple TV.
  • Tap the Sharing icon at the bottom of the movie screen on your computer.
  • Select Apple TV.
  • Leave the computer on while you watch your movie on the Apple TV.

Note: This method may not deliver the best quality available for Apple TV. If you plan to watch on the Apple TV, it is better to rent the movie from there to guarantee the highest video quality available for the device.

iTunes movie rentals are also available on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.