How To Rip DVDs on Mac

Is it Illegal To Rip DVDs On A Mac?

Whilst this sounds like an article that would excite anyone involved with anti-pirating, our intention is absolutely not to show you how to do anything illegal. You see, we believe it is perfectly legitimate for you to copy your own DVDs into a format that you can use on, for example, your iPhone, iPad or other mobile device. DVDs don’t play natively on these mobile devices, so even though you have a purchased DVD you may no longer be able to watch it (if, for example you’re on an aeroplane and your Mac is a 27″ iMac that sits on your desk!).

We believe such activities (provided you are not distributing the copies) constitute “Fair Use” and is permitted under most countries copyright laws – under some form or another.

But most DVDs contain copy protection which stops you from simply using Disk Utility or something similar to copy your DVD onto other devices. Various different encryption / copy protection mechanisms exist and different software applications handle these mechanisms with varying levels of success and ease of use. Most of the freely available solutions either don’t handle copy protected DVDs at all, or they require installation of additional libraries to make it happen.

If you have a MacBook Air or no DVD drive for some other reason, you can pick up cheap USB DVD burners and readers from eBay. If your Mac supports USB3 we’d recommend going with one that also supports USB3.

Listed below are some solutions we’ve used (and possibly reviewed) to rip DVDs from your shelf collection to your Mac collection, either in iTunes or straight to your Home Theatre PC such as Kodi or XBMC. Just for the record, do not distribute these ripped versions – it’s not fair to the content producers and distributing them is illegal. It costs a lot of money to produce good quality movies and if you want the studios to continue producing movies then people have to accept they need to be paid for. On the other hand, we don’t agree you should have to pay twice just to watch the DVD on a different medium that you own.


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The most popular, free utility for copying or ripping DVDs on a Mac is undoubtedly Handbrake. It’s free, but by default it does not rip copy protected DVDs. However, when you try to rip a copy protected DVD for the first time, Handbrake will pop up a dialog offering to download the necessary extra software. The other option listed in this article is to install MacX DVD Ripper Pro instead, which does have a free trial version and does make the process quite a fair bit easier. However, Handbrake will do the trick if you’re prepared to do a little work. Installing the software is a matter of following the prompts given by Handbrake. Clicking on Source at the top left will open up the File dialog box. Choose the DVD you inserted and Handbrake will begin ripping the DVD onto your desktop. Depending on the speed of your DVD Drive (and / or USB connection) this could take hours. Once it’s finished your DVD will be available where-ever you told Handbrake to save the file – by default to your Desktop.

Handbrake offers a huge amount of options for optimizing your ripped DVD for whichever type of device you want and is extremely flexible, but does require you to understand a fair bit about what you’re doing in order to make the most of it.

You can download your free copy of Handbrake from

MacX DVD Ripper Pro

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This software isn’t free, although it does come with a limited free trial – the trial is quite limited indeed since it will only rip 5 minutes of the DVD in trial mode. However, it is significantly easier to use than Handbrake and in my trials ripped a DVD in almost half the time that Handbrake took. MacX DVD Ripper Pro leads you by the hand throughout the entire process – from the moment you start it up to the moment the DVD ripping is finished. It is as powerful as Handbrake in that there are many different profiles that can be applied to your rip so that the output is optimised for the type of device you wish to view on. It also has options to automatically add the MP4 to your iTunes library after ripping, as well as shutting down the Mac when the rip is complete (useful if you want to set it going before heading to bed!) and choosing how many CPU cores to utilise (so that your Mac can still be responsive to your needs while ripping).

We’ve done a full review of MacX DVD Ripper Pro at ReviewMacSoftware, feel free to check that out.

To download your trial copy of MacX DVD Ripper Pro, visit

Mac DVD Ripper Pro

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Although this application sounds the same as the one listed above, it isn’t. The two companies are unrelated and the software very different. Mac DVD Ripper Pro is a solid application which looks very polished indeed. The trial version for Mac DVD Ripper Pro is significantly better than MacX DVD Ripper Pro since instead of limiting the rips to 5 minutes, Mac DVD Ripper Pro will instead allow you to rip 5 full DVDs. This should be ample to determine if you like the software and at only $24.95 it’s a bargain too. However, MacX DVD Ripper Pro has lifetime free upgrades whereas this one requires payment for upgrades (albeit discounted to $9.95).

Mac DVD Ripper Pro does one thing that neither of the other options appeared to do, and that was that it picked up the title of my DVD and named the resulting file accordingly. This would make ripping straight into your XBMC/Library much easier. My initial tests appear to suggest that this software is the fastest of them all, working the DVD hard and getting the job done quickly.

You can download your trial copy of Mac DVD Ripper Pro at

Our Verdict

Whilst we’ve only listed 3 ways of ripping DVDs onto your Mac and there are undoubtedly more, these are the 3 most popular options for ripping copy protected DVDs to your Mac. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks, so you’re going to need to make your own decision based on your individual needs. Personally, I’m not all that familiar with all the intricacies of burning copy protected DVDs and so, although it is free and very flexible, I find Handbrake just a bit too awkward. That leaves my choice between MacX DVD Ripper Pro and DVD Ripper Pro. The latter seems more polished, and seems to rip quicker – but it’s hard to go past the free lifetime upgrades of MacX DVD Ripper Pro…. I can’t decide – it’s up to you!

If you have an alternative you would like us to include, please leave a comment below with why you prefer your choice and we’ll look at including it in this list. Feel free to leave a comment for any other reason too

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