How to watch HDCP protected movies on a data projector in iTunes


iTunes has copy protection on their movies called HDCP which will not allow you to play iTunes rentals or purchases on some older data projectors.   Thankfully there is a simple solution. You just need to watch an SD version  of the movie and it does not have the HDCP protection.  This is not mentioned on Apple’s support webpage but I was able to find out about it when I rang Apple iTunes support.  Read on for how to do this step-by-step.

 If you try to play an iTunes rental or purchased movie on an older style data projector you will see an error like this:

HDCP error

This happened to me.   The suggestions in the window are not helpful.  Sure, you can move the movie to your laptop window but then you can’t watch it on the data projector!  Turning mirroring on or off does not help either. I rang Apple iTunes support, and thankfully there is a simple way around the problem.  You just need to download the movie in a standard definition (SD) version.  SD iTunes movies do not have HDCP.

To do this, open up the iTunes application on your computer, select the’ iTunes Store’ tab, click on ‘Purchased’, select ‘Movies’ up the top, and down the bottom right underneath all your movies there should be a little checkbox that says ‘ Download HD When Available’.

Un-check this box and your videos will download in SD.

Unselect the option for HD movies and you will get an SD movie that can play on older projectors.

SD versions of iTunes movies do not cause the HDCP error.  You can watch them on a projector no worries.


Where to find the ‘Download HD checkbox

Some people in the comments below are saying that it is hard to find the checkbox. I agree!

Here’s how to find the checkbox.

  1. Firstly select ‘Movies’  in the drop-down box on the left hand side of your iTunes window just under the play button,  then select the tab called ‘Store’  which is over the right under the Apple logo.

2.  Now go over to the right hand of the store screen and under ‘Movies’  there will be a little place where you can select ‘Purchased’.

3. After you click ‘Purchased’  then this option should appear on the bottom right hand side of your iTunes window:

If this is selected the movies will download as HD and will not play on older projectors.  If you deselect this then the SD version of the movie will download automatically which you can play on projectors.

20 replies on “How to watch HDCP protected movies on a data projector in iTunes”

I explicitly purchased the non-HD version. When I connect to a projector, I get the message saying I’m not authorized to show it on that device.

That’s odd, and different to my experience. Are you sure the movie is SD? If you option-click on the movie from iTunes, then select ‘Show in Finder’ how big is the movie file? If you open the movie in Quicktime, and select ‘Show Movie Inspector’ from the ‘Window’ Menu, what does it was under ‘Movie Properties’?
If it is definitely SD, it would be good to give Apple support a ring and see what they say.

Thanks so much for your excellent advice. I have been able to download i tunes movies in SD and watch them on my “older” data projector.

If you have Apple TV (and even though it might be a pain in the a** to unlplug from your TV) you can plug it directly into your projector to watch in HD without it being “blacked out” from iTunes copyright protection

I have a related issue. I currently have a projector (newer model) connected via HDMI and Apple AV adapter to an iPad (12.4 OS and 1673 model) where I am trying to play movies via iPad native TV app. All my personal content works fine and most TV shows. However, when I try to watch movies, most work for picture, but no sound. Most of these movies are Disney, but I don’t see any restrictions on the content and I don’t get the error message noted above. Just no sound. Hoping to get feedback. Thanks!

I tried this multiple times, but even with the box deselected it seems like I am downloading really large files. IN any case, they do not play, still.

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