How to rip a Blu-ray disc

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[Editor’s note: The MPAA and most media companies argue that you can’t legally copy or convert commercial DVDs or Blu-ray discs for any reason. We (and others) think that, if you own one of these discs, 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.]

Over the years we’ve talked about creating backups and portable copies of the DVD media you own. But the world of disc-based media has shifted largely to Blu-ray. Once upon a time ripping Blu-ray discs wasn’t all that necessary because these discs came with digital copies available from the iTunes Store. Regrettably, the movie industry has moved to the Ultraviolet digital copy scheme which is neither convenient nor reliable, so it’s back to ripping we go.

In this movie I’ll show you how it’s done with the admonition that you should do this only with the media you own. Doing otherwise is piracy and isn’t cool. Now, let’s proceed.

First of all, you’ll need a Blu-ray reader for your Mac as Apple doesn’t supply the things. You can find these for well under a hundred bucks at places like Amazon and Other World Computing. Once you’ve connected that player you’ll need the software necessary to rip your discs.

Although there are a number of utilities that claim to do it, they can be costly and some of them are promoted via spam—which also isn’t cool. I’ll instead suggest a free utility called MakeMKV, which you can get from

Once you’ve installed it, insert your Blu-ray disc and click on its image. MakeMKV will scan the disc looking for real titles rather than fake ones that might have been created to help protect the disc from copying. When it’s finished scanning it will present you with a list of chapter’s it’s found. Select the one you want (the largest one in size) and click the Save Title button. MakeMKV will set about creating the copy of the title.

Once it’s done so you have a .mkv, which won’t play natively on an iOS device. Unless you want to watch the movie on your Mac using something like VLC to play it (which supports such files) you’ll have to convert it to an iOS compatible format. I use the free HandBrake for that.

Just launch HandBrake, click the Source button, and choose the .mkv file you just created. Select an appropriate preset—iPad or Apple TV 3, for example—and then click Start. The .mkv files will be converted to an MPEG-4 file, which will play on your Mac, iOS device, or Apple TV.

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