How-To Geek

Ask HTG: ISO vs. TS Folders, Remembering Window Locations, and Converting Books for the Kindle


Every week we dip into our mailbag and answer your pressing tech questions. This week we’re looking at the difference between ISO and TS folders in DVD video, helping Windows recall folder locations, and Kindle book conversion.

ISO Versus TS Folders


Dear How-To Geek,

I have a hard drive with several hundred GB’s of movies. Some are old family videos in which I just copied the Video_TS folder and Audio_TS folders [from the unencrypted DVD].

I am considering going back and creating ISO images to make the file structure a little easier, to play them in more media players, and for consistency.

Is there any downside to using an ISO image compared to the two folders above.Maybe you could explain what exactly an ISO image is an why I need to burn one to a DVD to play it in most players, but the two files show-up instead on the disc.



Dear ISO-Confused

We can understand your confusion, the differences between the two methods aren’t immediately apparent. Think of an ISO file as a container format. ISOs are useful when you want a perfect copy of a disc with all the menus, extras, and everything intact. Some people like to rip discs to ISO format so they get a perfect copy and can use that perfect copy to create new copies in the future. Other people like to rip discs by taking just the Video_TS and Audio_TS off the discs so they can manipulate them (by, for example, removing trailers, extra menus, or cutting it right down to the feature film).

There aren’t any particularly big downsides to having your files in either format (ISO or the folder structure). Unless your plan on playing the movies on a network device or media player that is really finnicky about one format there’s no compelling reason to go through the effort of converting all your lose TS folders to ISO files. Almost every popular DVD burning application around will happily take your Video_TS and Audio_TS folders and reauthor a proper DVD out of them.

As for what’s actually in the Audio and Video TS folders, we’d recommend checking out this breakdown at FileInfo for an explanation of the individual files you’ll find in the folders and what they do.

Help Windows 7 Remember Folder Locations


Dear How-To Geek,

I run a dual monitor setup in Windows 7 Pro with an extended desktop.  My left monitor is the one that I primarily use.  Some mornings when I start an application it will launch on the left side and other times it will launch on the right monitor.  Is there any way to define what monitor an application with launch on?

Flip Flopping in Fargo

Dear Flip Flopping,

There is no native solution to your flip fop problem—for all its advancements Windows 7 is terrible are correctly recalling window positioning, something Windows XP was quite good at. Fortunately there is a little application called ShellFolderFix that remedies the situation by keeping a running tab on where you applications are and where you want them to be. You can download the installation file here or check out our guide to installing and configuring ShellFolderFix here.

Converting Books for the Kindle


Dear How-To Geek,

I have a Kindle but I have absolutely no idea how to get non-Amazon purchased books and free downloads onto it? I know it can read books that weren’t purchased within the Amazon ecosystem but I don’t know how to even begin working with them. Help!

Off Market Shopping in Manitoba

Dear Off Market,

Amazon doesn’t go out of there way to make it clear how to use non-Amazon sources (we wouldn’t expect any less really, they have a business model to support and encourage). It’s really easy with the use of a free and open-source application called Calibre. Calibre can easily convert many, many, document formats into Kindle friendly formats (such as ePUB,  LIT, LRF, and more to the MOBI format used by the Kindle).  Think of Calibre as a media manager for your books (much like iTunes is common and popular media manager for music). You can download Calibre here or, to get a feel for the application, read our guide to converting PDF to ePUB format with Calibre here. All you need to do is exchanged PDF for whatever format you want to convert and select MOBI instead of ePUB and you’ll be all set. Plug in your Kindle, copy the files, and enjoy!

Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/13/11

Comments (7)

  1. afuhnk

    re: ‘Help Windows 7 Remember Folder Locations’

    I use ‘DisplayFusion Pro’.
    It’s an awesome application that can manage desktop wallpapers, logon screen but also, and more importantly, allows you to set a unique taskbar to every monitor as well as the ability to configure your programs to open on a specific monitor.

  2. grimache

    The only thing I dislike w/ the Kindle, is that for books “purchased” outside of them, you cannot sync across multiple Kindle devices! Quite disappointed when I first learned that, especially b/c I frequently switch between my actual Kindle & my phone app!

  3. DaveS

    To Grimache et al:
    You can use Calibre to create syncable books across multiple Kindle platforms. I currently have about 3,000 ebooks from my old Poclet PC days. I use Calibre to convert them into MOBI files for my Kindle. The wonderful Calibre team has cerated the metadata section so the MOBI books are Amazon syncable.
    Convert your book, then move it to your platforms of choice.
    Don’t email them, just move them. They will work just like an Amazon purchased book. I currently sync my books between my Kindle, iPhone and PCs. Works great.
    To get books on the iPhone, though, you can’t use iTunes. I use a program called DiskAid ($10) which gives me easy access to the file structure on my iPhone.

  4. grimache

    Thanks Dave, I’ll have to give that a shot then! And by syncing, I’m talking about page locations, like reading a chapter, then opening it up on my phone & it’s right where I left off from my Kindle.

  5. carryit

    ummmhhh grimache let me help with your perspective…. if you download a book as text to your computer from a non-drm’d non copyrighted source and you read it on your computer, then you copy it to your kindle, your cell phone, your nook and your sony reader…. how are those devices supposed to know where you left off reading from your computer??? ok so you find your place and you read it on your kindle… then go to read that book on your nook… how is your nook going to know where you left off reading from your kindle????
    IF you have a kindle account and you buy a kindle book you can sink all devices that run the kindle program or the ‘kindle device’ because it syncs to your amazon account…. BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR ACCOUNT VIA WIRELESS OR WHISPERNET…. so even a kindle program or device wont sync your book if its not connected to amazon…..
    you can use caliber to convert non-drm’d non copywrited books and copy those books to various devices (they wont all read the same format), including itunes itself…. that process of converting, copying and moving books from device to device is often called syncing…. that i am aware calibre will NOT keep track of some sort of page number sync if you were to connect all book reading devices to calibre.
    i can open my kindle ap on my iphone download a book and read it…. then go home open up a kindle ap on my computer download the same book and start reading where i left off, later i might open up a kindle for android app on a tablet…. then that night i go to my kindle device, find that same book and again start reading where i left off… (only of course if each device was connected to amazon)… use amazon for most of your book purchases,,,, about 60% of my kindle library was free and amazon syncs them just fine….. the amazon kindle device along with its software for tablets, pc, mac, and cell phones are a great way to go…

  6. grayhoose

    DVDFab to convert Video_TS folders to .iso
    Fairuse Wizard to convert .iso to .avi/.mkv
    DVDFlick to make DVD’s with the .iso/.avi/,mkv

  7. nonosh

    DVD Flick is pretty amazing for converting most media container formats into a VIDEO_TS folder (ready for burning!).

    Do I need to use commercial software such as DVD Fab to create a fully-DVD-functioning ISO file? Can I not just use my burning software (e.g., CDBurnerXP) to create an ISO manually after adding the VIDEO_TS folder to the burn list?

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