How do I rip a DVD or Blu-ray movie to my Mac?

In this day and age physical movies are becoming a thing of the past; even Apple itself has made a conscious move away from physical discs with the removal of DVD drives from its computers.

But DVD films aren't gone completely, and you've probably got some DVDs lying around the house which you'd like to watch on your Mac, or better still want to transfer them to your iPhone and iPad so that you can watch your movies on the go. 

How to rip a DVD or Blu-ray Disc to Mac

How to rip a DVD to Mac: is it legal or illegal to rip DVDs?

Before we get into this guide, we should remind you of the legal complications of ripping a DVD to any computer. Ripping DVDs, especially those that have copyright protection such as a DRM (Digital Rights Management) on them, can be legally iffy: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) enforce the law against the ripping of copy-protected DVDs. In other words, by the nature of the changes within UK law, ripping DVDs is considered illegal, no matter if the DVD is purchased by you or by someone else.

Therefore, please consider this before following our guide. The chances of being caught are extremely slim, it's fair to say. And if you've bought the DVD yourself, some would argue that after a purchase the DVD should be used as you please, as long as it's not shared with others. But the decision is yours.

How to rip a DVD or Blu-ray Disc to Mac

How to rip a DVD to Mac: Ripping unprotected DVDs

Some DVDs come without any protected content on them, whereby you can easily rip the contents of the DVD to your Mac.

Before proceeding, you'll need a few hundred megabytes or even gigabytes to copy a DVD to your Mac. The size of a DVD can vary from anything from 700MB to even 9.4GB, so ensure you've got enough space on your computer before continuing.

To rip the DVD, you'll need to open your 'Disk Utility' (found within Applications > Utilities) and find your DVD. Once you've found your DVD, simply click on it and you'll be presented with several options, one of them being 'New Image' which is the option that enables you to rip a DVD.

You'll then be presented with various options, where the option you want to look out for is 'Image Format', which you should set to 'DVD/CD Master' and selecting the 'Encryption' to 'None'. Once you've selected the options, hit save and the DVD will start copying to the destination you selected. When the process is complete, safely eject the DVD from your Mac.

Now enjoy your film! If for any reason you have trouble playing the file, we suggest downloading VLC for Mac OS X, which supports a large variety of video formats. Read next: How do I play a DVD movie on my Mac?

How to rip a DVD to Mac: Using HandBrake to rip copyright-protected DVDs

If you want to rip a protected DVD, you'll need to use software called HandBrake. The software has a lot of different features which will offer you a great way of ripping DVDs to your Mac. This also includes a built-in compressor and even the option to adjust the framerate of the DVD rip.

Read next: MacX DVD Ripper Pro Giveaway: Rip All Your DVDs to Mac iPhone iPad

How to rip a DVD or Blu-ray Disc to Mac

Download and install HandBrake.

Insert your DVD with Handbrake open in the background. Handbrake will either pick up your DVD automatically or you'll have to select it by selecting 'Source' and locating the DVD in the pop-up window.

Once Handbrake has picked up the DVD, you'll be able to adjust the output settings. We suggest you stick the 'Format' to 'MP4' as that is capable of being played back on a Mac and iOS devices. (If you're ripping solely for an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, click the Toggle Presets button on the toolbar and select the device from the list at the right - this will set the optimum quality and file size.) 

We'd also suggest sticking the DVD rips to a maximum 'Target Size (MB)' of 750MB, as this makes it easier to share through your different devices. Alternatively, let Handbrake rip the DVD at the maximum allocated size and you'll receive the best quality possible.

After selecting the right settings for you, hit 'Start' and wait for the Handbrake-magic to happen. Once complete, you'll be able to view your film on your Mac and transfer it to an iOS device to watch it on the go. To transfer the ripped file to your phone or tablet, open iTunes, then drag and drop the ripped movie file on top of it. Then attach your device, select it from the dropdown list at the top right, click on the Movies heading, and ensure Sync Movies has a check alongside it, and that your movie file beneath is checked too. Then click the Sync button.

If the ripped movie has strange audio or starts in the middle, see this Macworld Q&A.

Note: Due to the DVDs being encrypted you might be protected by Handbrake to download and get 'libdvdcss'. This is an attempt by VideoLAN, creators of VLC Player to decrypt files. Some video publishers might choose more elaborate methods of encryption, which might prevent you from ripping the DVD all together. This is pretty rare, but is something you should be aware of when performing a DVD rip.

Cloning

An alternative method to ripping is to clone the DVD, which means you also backup the menu and extras. However, the clone could take over 9GB of disk space, and if the disc uses copy protection, this will block cloning. In this case ripping is the best option (see above) but some commercial apps like RipIt ($24.95) can clone even these discs.

Create a new folder named after the movie, then select the DVD disc under the Devices heading on the left. Drag and drop everything you see - likely to be one or two folders called VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS - to your new folder. If Finder appears to get jammed then, sorry, but the disc uses copy protection.  

Rename your folder, keeping the movie title but adding .dvdmedia to the end. If the folder is called Star Wars, then you'd rename the whole thing as Star Wars.dvdmedia. Once you do this, the folder will turn into a single file. It will also gain a DVD icon, and act like a DVD too - when double-clicked it will start playing in DVD Player. (If DVD Player doesn’t work or is unreliable, try opening it in VLC.)

How to rip a DVD or Blu-ray Disc to Mac

How to rip a Blu-ray Disc film on a Mac

There are two ways of ripping a Blu-ray Disc to a Mac. The first involves decrypting and copying the entire disc to an .iso disc image. This file will be the same size as the original Blu-ray: about 30GB to 40GB. We used Aurora Software's Blu-ray Copy (free); a two-hour film took two hours to copy. To play the copy, mount the disc image. In the Mac Blu-ray Player app, choose File > Open File and then select the BDMV file in the disc image. You can also open BDMV files with the VLC Media Player (free).

The second option is to make an MKV file. MKV is a file-container format that can hold video, audio, picture, and subtitle tracks in a single file. GuinpinSoft's MakeMKV (free while in beta) is a good program for this task. It can decrypt a Blu-ray disc and save whatever parts you want in an MKV container.

The decryption process takes about half the duration of the film; you'll have an MKV file that you can play back with VLC or other software. If you want a smaller file size, convert the MKV to a smaller file - in the same format, or in a different one, such as an iTunes-compatible MP4 - using a tool such as HandBrake, which we used in the DVD section above.

That's pretty much all there is to it. In general, playing and ripping Blu-ray discs is fairly easy as long as you're willing to invest a little time and money.

Contains additional reporting by Kirk McElhearn and Keir Thomas.