How to Rip a DVD with VLC on OS X

This article is the result of fiddling with various instructions on how to rip a DVD, none of which were clear or took care to provide OS X specific instructions. I’ve done that with this article. I had previously resisted publishing this article for a couple of years (since 2007) as I could never quite make it work, but –in hindsight– it may be beneficial despite my unresolved caveat. In any case, it would seem (to me, at least) that 1) this problem pertains to VLC (at least with the Intel Mac port versions 0.8.6i and 0.9.10), 2) the problem is surely to be fixed in future VLC versions (if not already), 3) and the instructions herein are sound. Thus at the very least, this article serves as reference material.

Disclaimer: The DMCA, prohibits ripping a DVD with CSS. I do not condone circumventing this protection, not that you could with these instructions, anyway –as you would need a specific key and software to do so. Rather, these instructions are for legitimate work, such as family videos. If you’re worried about violating your local law (or even concerned about violating CSS), I recommend you inform yourself on the subject.

As a side note and as I understood in 2006, Canadian law guarantees the right to copy legally purchased CDs and DVDs for back-up purposes (despite CSS related laws). That’s one backup per CD/DVD that’s allowed by law. Yeh, for sovereignty!


File Dialogue

File Dialogue

1. Open up VLC and click the open button on the left (command “d” on OS X or “File” then “Open Disc…”)

From inside the “Disc ” tab …

A dialogue box appears from which you should select the Disc tab and then the DVD dial button.

2. In the device name box, insert the letter that corresponds to your DVD-ROM drive. Also, insert ‘0’ in the title box (probably /dev/rdisk1 on OS X, but try the default first.  This should read something like dvdread:///dev/rdisk1@1:1- on OS X, up in the MLR box). Select OK, and check if it’s the source you want to rip. (The movie starts to play when you select the correct number.) If your selection doesn’t play, keep increasing the number (“0”, “1”, up to 15 or so). You may want to select “Use DVD Menus”. If so, select “Streaming/Saving:” and then the “Settings…” button if not prompted.

Transcoding Dialogue

Transcoding Dialogue

3. From the resulting pop-up, open and uncheck the “Display the stream local” box and select from the following.

  • To tell VLC where to save the rip, use “File”-Select. Select “File” in the Apple Menu (or hit “browse” on Windows), then navigate to the target folder. Save with an “.mpg” extension)
  • Encapsulation for DVD: Use MPEG PS or MPEG TS.
  • Video Codec: Leave MPEG TS (from the above drop-down dialogue) for .mpg. You can also select mp1v (mp2v and up to 4-9.8Mbps for DVD is suggested). With .mpg video, 1024k usually provides a good compromise between size and quality.
  • Audio-Mp3 for audio is a safe selection (a52 for DVD audio with 2 channels at 192K seems to work well [mp2a not in selection and there is mp4a, but I don’t know if mp4a works for DVD burning]). According to j-b on #videolan, 160K or 192K is recommended for audio.

4. Click OK a couple of times. VLC should start ripping.

Warning: be sure that the “Streaming/Saving:” selection remains unchecked, otherwise you may lose your transcoding.

Unresolved Caveat
I started at about 4 a.m., and by noon the next day, it was still going with the following errors and a growing file size of 8.32 GB. I got the following error.

“pictures, resetting its ring buffer stream_out_transcode: decoder/filter is leaking pictures, resetting its ring buffer”
“stream_out_transcode: decoder/filter is leaking pictures, resetting its ring buffer”

Further DVD Considerations
* For audio, mp2a 2-channel 192K works well. If you need more channels, use a52 and increase the bitrate; budget 64 or 96K/channel (2 channels 192K, 6 channel 384K,…

* A DVD format file should be 720×480 resolution for NTSC, or 720×576 resolution for PAL.

Further Reading
As an alternative source, read Dmitri Popov’s “Transcoding and Streaming DVD Films with VLC Media Player”.  The posting by joetain on April 9, 2006 briefly mentions a raw method, the streaming method to access menus, and also compression (mp4v, audio as vorbis and container format as ogg… moviename.ogm).

If you want to burn to DVD as a DVD, look at “Burn” for OS X.  The site says that Burn converts QuickTime readable files to DVD or other formats. Thus, if you’re looking to burn a DVD and need an affordable (free of cost) method, Burn should give you a readable DVD disc.

Maurice Cepeda


All rights reserved on article –content and images. All brands mentioned are properties of their respective owners. This article does not guarantee, nor does it insinuate results of any sort, and is created for informational purposes. By reading this article, the reader forgoes any accountability of the writer. The reading of this article implies acceptance of the above stipulations.


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