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Watch and rip Blu-ray movies on your Mac

Kirk McElhearn | June 25, 2013
If you like the quality and features of Blu-ray, and want to be able to watch discs on your Mac or convert them to other formats for viewing on other computers, all you need is a bit of hardware and software to make it all possible.

The software offers the standard play/pause controls, but also lets you skip forward or back in 30-second chunks; change audio track and subtitle synchronization; adjust brightness, saturation, contrast, gamma, and hue; and much more. I found nothing lacking in the software's functionality.

Ripping Blu-rays
In addition to simply playing your Blu-ray movies on your Mac, you may want to copy them to your Mac to watch on your laptop when traveling, or convert to a format you can watch via an Apple TV, for example.

[Editor's note: The MPAA and most media companies argue that you can't legally copy or convert commercial DVDs or Blu-rays for any reason. We (and others) think that, if you own a disc, you should be able to override its copy protection to make a backup copy or to convert its content for viewing on other devices. Currently, the law isn't entirely clear one way or the other. So our advice is: If you don't own it, don't do it. If you do own it, think before you rip.]

There are two methods you can use. 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—so you may run into space issues pretty quickly. I used Aurora Software's free Blu-ray Copy, and this app copied my Blu-ray discs in roughly real time; a 2-hour movie took about two hours to copy. You can then play the copy by mounting the disc image, and using Mac Blu-ray Player. In that app, choose File > Open File, or click Open File in the main window, and select the BDMV file in the disc image. You can also open BDMV files with the free VLC Media Player.

The second method 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). Using GuinpinSoft's MakeMKV—free while in beta, which it has been for several years (visit this forum thread to find the current temporary beta key)—you can decrypt a Blu-ray disc and save whatever parts you want (if you don't need the 7.1-channel audio mix, for example, just uncheck it) into an MKV container. This takes about half the duration of the movie; when the decryption is finished, you have an MKV file that you can play back with VLC or other software. If you want more manageable file sizes, you'll need to convert the MKV to a smaller file—in the same format, or in a different format, such as an iTunes-compatible MP4—using a tool such as HandBrake.

 

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