How to Rip a DVD to Your Computer

Save DVDs to your hard drive with Handbrake

You can use a program called Handbrake to rip DVDs to your computer. That way, you upload movies to your mobile device or watch them on your TV using programs like Plex.

Instructions for using Handbrake apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and macOS 10.11 and later.

What You Need to Rip a DVD

You can find numerous free DVD ripping tools online. For example, Handbrake is a versatile program for Windows, Mac, and Linux that allows you to rip both Blu-rays and DVDs. It has dozens of built-in presets, so you can optimize your movie files for different devices, screen sizes, and video resolutions.

Most DVDs are encrypted to prevent consumers from making copies, so you'll also need a free decoder called libdvdcss that works seamlessly with Handbrake. Alternatively, you can use a premium decoder like AnyDVD from RedFox.

How to rip DVDs to your computer using Handbrake.

Copyright laws prohibit you from copying DVDs for distribution or resale, but creating your personal library to watch at home is fine.

How to Use Handbrake to Rip DVDs

The process for ripping is virtually the same on Windows and Mac:

  1. Download Handbrake and install it on your computer.

  2. Install the decoder. See the sections below for instructions on how to set up libdvdcss on your operating system.

  3. Insert the DVD into the optical drive on your computer. You can use an internal or an external drive. Give it a few seconds to read the disc.

  4. Launch Handbrake, which will immediately prompt you to choose the source file you want to rip. On a Mac, select the DVD drive in the Finder window, then choose the VIDEO-TS folder and select Open.

    Select source video files in Handbrake.
  5. On Windows, select Folder (Batch Scan), then select the VIDEO-TS folder to load your movie in Handbrake. 

    Select batch scan in Handbrake for Windows.
  6. When your movie loads, you will see a preview picture of one of the frames. 

    Mac interface for Handbrake.
  7. Select the Title drop-down menu to make sure the correct movie file is selected. Typically, Handbrake chooses the correct file, but sometimes there are different versions of the movie. Generally, the highlighted one is correct.

    Select the movie title.

    Leave Angle and Chapters settings alone; they should default to the correct settings.

  8. Select the Preset drop-down menu and choose your output type. Handbrake includes presets that choose settings for you based on what kind of file you want to create. For example, you can create a 4K HD movie file that will look great when played on a Roku TV.

    Select your video preset.

    You can also save files for Apple TV and mobile devices, but the higher the quality, the larger the files will be. If you need to conserve disk space, go with a lower resolution preset.

  9. Select the Format drop-down menu, then choose either MP4 or MKVMKV files are ideal for high-definition movies, but you'll need special software to read them. MKV files work fine on Plex and Roku, but MP4 files are more universally supported.

    Select your video file format.
  10. The last choice is where you want to save the file. Select the Summary tab, type the name of your movie in the Save As box, then select Browse to select the folder you want to save it in.

    Type in your movie name and click browse to save in a location.
  11. Once you're happy with your choices, select the green Start icon on Mac or Start Encode on Windows. You can pause the ripping process at any time and restart it.

    The green Start icon in Handbrake for Mac

    If you want to process additional movies, select Add To Queue. You can select Preview to see how the movie looks. Check the Activity log to see which movie files have already been processed.

  12. As the movie rips and the file is saved, you can view the progress bar at the bottom of Handbrake. Video files take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more to rip depending on the quality and size.

    Check the progress bar at the bottom of the Handbrake window.
  13. When your movie is done, you will see Encode Finished on Mac or Queue Finished on Windows. You can now remove your disc from the drive and close Handbrake. Check the quality of your completed video, then you can move it to another location or upload it to another device. 

    Encode finished on the Mac.

Other DVD Ripping Options With Handbrake

In the Handbrake software, you'll notice a bunch of different tabs including:

  • Dimensions
  • Filters
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Subtitles
  • Chapters

Within each of these tabs, you have specific options to customize the file size, interlace settings, encoder information, frame rate, audio formats, language titles, and even chapters. Most users won’t need to change these settings, but you might want to explore them to achieve the perfect balance of quality versus size.

How to Install the Decoder on Windows

On Windows, you must first download libdvdcss.dll. Choose the 32-bit or 64-bit version, then navigate to your download folder and move the file into your C:/Program Files/Handbrake directory.

Handbrake library file installation on Windows.

How to Install the Decoder on Mac

The security protocols on macOS prevent you from installing the library file using an installer. Thankfully, there is a very easy way to do it using Terminal and an add-on called Homebrew.

  1. Open Terminal on the Mac.

  2. Copy and paste the text below into the Terminal window and press Return

    /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
  3. You will be prompted to select Return and type in your administrator password.

  4. The process will also download and install some portions of Apple’s Xcode developer software. Approve this when the pop-up prompts you to do so.

  5. Once the process is complete and you see the normal prompt, copy and paste the code below into the Terminal window and press Return.

    brew install libdvdcss
  6. Once complete, close the Terminal window and you're ready to begin.