How To Rip A DVD To Your Computer

Upon receiving her new MacBook Air, my mother asked me how she’s supposed to watch movies on the plane without a DVD drive. If you’ve got people asking you similar questions, here are some easy-to-follow instructions for ripping a DVD to your computer.Ripping a movie to your hard drive can seem like a complicated task, but it’s actually pretty simple. There are a lot of ways to do it and a lot of different programs out there, but our favourite method uses two programs called Handbrake and VLC. They’re pretty easy to use, and available on both Windows and Mac. The video above should walk you through the process, but you can follow along with these instructions:

Note: Format-shifting (that is, converting media you have legally purchased so you can play it on a different device) is legal in Australia.

  1. Head to Handbrake’s homepage and download the program. You’ll also want to download VLC from its website as well. Install them both on your computer. Note that you won’t actually use VLC during this process, but you do need it installed for the whole thing to work.
  2. Open up Handbrake, and click the Source button. Pick your DVD drive from the list. It will start scanning your DVD, which could take a few minutes, so let it do its thing.
  3. When it’s done, head to the “Title” drop-down menu in the upper left hand corner of the window. This is where you’ll select which part of the DVD you want to rip. In the case of movies, it’s usually the longest title, so just pick that one. If you’re ripping episodes of a TV show, it’s usually the 22 or 44 minute ones, and you’ll have to rip them separately.
  4. Click the Browse button on the right side of the window. Navigate to where you want to save your movie file, and type in a file name in the box. Click OK.
  5. Next, head to the bar on the right labelled “Presets”. This is where you’ll choose what format the resulting file will be in. If you just want to watch it on your computer, the “Normal” preset is fine. If you want to watch it on something like your iPod or iPhone, though, pick the correct preset on the left.
  6. Hit the Start button at the top of the window. This will take awhile, so you’ll probably want to find something else to do for a bit.
  7. When it’s done, you’ll get a popup notification. From there, you can watch your movie from where you saved it, or, if you want to sync it to an iPhone or other similar device, just drag it into iTunes’ left sidebar, sync your phone, and enjoy the movie!

It seems like a lot of steps at first, but it really isn’t very difficult. It’s just a matter of picking the right chapter from the DVD and ripping it to the right format. Note that if you’re going to be ripping a lot of DVDs, you can head to Tools > Options (or Handbrake > Preferences, if you’re on a Mac), and hit “Browse” next to “Default Path” to choose a location for all the other movies you rip in the future. That way, every time you rip, you can skip step 4, and your movie files will always end up in the same place.


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