How To Rip a DVD on a Mac

Despite the plethora of freeware available to rip DVDs on a Windows or Linux machine, Mac users have been somewhat cast aside for one reason or another. Most search results direct a user to expensive software that doesn’t even allow for a proper trial before use. Handbrake is a popular freeware video conversion application for Mac (and Windows and Ubuntu) that can also be used to decode and record DVD titles as soft video files with just a little bit of tweaking.

First thing to do is install the latest version of Handbrake. Download the Mac disc image, mount it, and copy the app to your applications folder like you would any other. Launch Handbrake and insert a DVD into your optical drive (assuming you actually have one still). Due to licensing restrictions, Handbrake doesn’t include the proper DVD codecs stock, but will prompt you to download the open-source libdvdcss library. Download and run the package installer, then restart Handbrake.

Now you can open your DVD in Handbrake, choose the title you wish to rip, choose the appropriate settings, and click the “start” button!

If you run into problems, the DVD probably contains some level of copy-protection that will have to be circumvented. A word of warning here: the DMCA specifically prohibits breaking copy-protection, but as a freedom-loving American, I believe that once recorded media is legitimately obtained in any format, then it is within the rights of the owner of that media to convert it to any other format for personal consumption. For more information on the moral and legal implications of the Digital Millennium Copyright Atrocity, click here. In this case, open the DVD Player app, then navigate through the menus until the title you wish to rip is playing. In the menu bar, select “Go”, then “Title”, and note the title with the check mark next to it. Back in Handbrake, select “File” and “Open Source (Title Specific)”. Select your DVD, then enter the title number in the dialog before clicking the “Open Title” button.

There are a lot more settings that drill down into the fine details for each video file to be encoded, but I will leave their explanations to the fine folks at MacWorld who wrote the article on which this tutorial is based. You can read the full article here.

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