You’ve got a bunch of DVDs sitting around your house, but you can’t even remember when you last saw your DVD player, and your laptop doesn’t even have a disc drive anymore. It’s time to modernize your collection. Here, we’ll show you how to rip your DVDs to your computer using the swiss army knife of video conversion tools: Handbrake.
Step Zero: Install Handbrake and libdvdcss So You Can Decrypt DVDs
The main tool we’ll be using to rip DVDs is called Handbrake, which you can download here. Out of the box, Handbrake can rip any DVD that isn’t copy protected…but almost all DVDs you buy in the store are copy protected. Getting around this is a weirdly gray area legally, so applications like Handbrake can’t legally include the software needed to decrypt copy protected DVDs. You can, however, download it separately—as long as you’re just using this to watch a movie on your computer and not starting a bootlegging business, we promise we won’t tell on you.
We’ll be using a free DVD playback library called libdvdcss. This will let Handbrake read your encrypted DVDs and rip them to your computer. The process is a little different for Windows and Mac users, so we’ll go through each one individually. Note that you don’t have to do this every time you rip a DVD—once libdvdcss is installed, you can skip to Step One each time you rip a new disc.
How to Install libdvdcss on Windows
First, you’ll need to download libdvdcss to your computer. For 32-bit versions of Windows, download this version. 64-bit users should download this version. If you aren’t sure which version of Windows you have, check out this article.
Copy the .dll file to your Handbrake program folder. If you used the default installation settings, this should be in C:\Program Files\Handbrake.
After this, Handbrake will be able to read your encrypted DVDs.
How to Install libdvdcss on macOS
Installing libdvdcss is a little more complicated on macOS, because El Capitan introduced a security feature called System Integrity Protection that won’t let you install libdvdcss without a little help. If you’re on Yosemite or older, you can download the libdvdcss package file here and double-click it to install it.
However, if you’re on El Capitan or newer, we’re going to use a command line tool called Homebrew to get it. If you’re not familiar with Homebrew, check out our guide on how to install it here. Fortunately, it only takes a few Terminal commands to install Homebrew if you haven’t already. Once you’re done, come back here.
To install libdvdcss, press Command+Space and search for Terminal to launch a command line window. Then, type in
brew install libdvdcss and hit enter.
Homebrew will download and install the libdvdcss library. Once you’re back at the command prompt, the library will be installed.
Once this is finished, Handbrake should be able to read all of your encrypted DVDs.
Step One: Open Your DVD in Handbrake
Once you’ve installed libdvdcss, it’s time to get ripping. Open Handbrake and choose your DVD drive from the sidebar that appears.
Handbrake will take a moment to scan the titles on your DVD. Wait until this process is finished. It should only take a moment. If libdvdcss wasn’t installed incorrectly, you’ll see an error saying that the disc can’t be read here instead.
Don’t be scared by Handbrake’s complex window—most of this should be pretty simple. Once your DVD is open, head to the “Title” dropdown box and choose which title you want to rip. By default, Handbrake will choose the movie, but if you want to rip any special features or deleted scenes, you can change the target you want to rip here. You can also change which chapters you want to rip, if you only want part of the movie.
Under Destination, click Browse to pick where you want to place the movie after you’ve ripped it.
Step Two: Choose Your Quality Preset
Next, you’ll need to decide the quality of your output file. The higher quality the movie, the more space it will take on your hard drive. If you’re technical, you can use the Picture, Video, and Audio tabs to adjust these settings, but most people only need to click one thing: a Preset.
Along the right side of the Handbrake window, you’ll see a selection of Presets (if you don’t see it, drag the corner of Handbrake’s window and expand it until you do). There are presets for nearly anything you could need: Apple TV, Android phones, PlayStation, and lots more. If you’re watching on your computer, use one of the “General” presets—“Fast” and “Very Fast” will be low quality but small in size, while “HQ” and “Super HQ” will have higher quality but take up more space.
If you’re ripping a DVD sold in the US, choose the 480p preset. European DVDs are usually 576p. Don’t choose larger presets like 720p or 1080p for DVDs—they won’t make your video look any better, they’ll just make the file bigger.
Step Three: Start Ripping!
Once you’ve chosen your Title and Preset, click Start Encode at the top of the window. Then, grab a snack.
You’ll see a progress bar along the bottom that will let you know how much time you have left in the rip. Higher quality rips will take longer, so you’ll want to let your computer run for a while.
Once the rip is done, you should be able to double-click on it to watch it! Or, if you’re using a movie library program like Plex, go ahead and add the movie to your library.