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

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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

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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.

Sincerely,

ISO-Confused

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

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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

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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 ask@howtogeek.com 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.