Recipes, Software

Ripping a DVD Using HandBrake

HandBrake is a free program that will encode (“Rip”) a DVD movie to your hard drive. In this recipe, we’ll show you how. It goes without saying that this applies only to DVD movies that you own, and that you will only use the encoded files in your own home. Otherwise, well we just won’t speak about how much trouble you’d be in.


1 – A computer with a DVD-ROM drive.

1 – The HandBrake program. See the video at the bottom of the page for more details about the latest version.

1 – A standard DVD.


  1. Insert the DVD movie or video you want to encode to your hard drive. You will probably have to stop and quit the default DVD player for your computer.
  2. Start the HandBrake program.
  3. HandBrake will open with the “Source…” dialog box open. Select the DVD drive on your computer and click Open.
  4. HandBrake will begin scanning the DVD for “titles” that it finds, and it should eventually select the main movie by default.
  5. You should have already selected a destination for encoded files. You can click the Browse button to select another destination.
  6. You will also need to select a preset. You view the presets by clicking the Toggle Presets button in the upper-right corner of the program. The default preset is Normal under the Regular category. If you have a specific device that you want to encode for (such as iPhone 4 or Apple TV), select it under the Devices category.
  7. Now click the Start button and your encode should begin. Depending on the speed of your machine and the length of your movie, the encode could take quite a while. A standard movie might take an hour or more. Go have lunch.
  8. When the encoding is done you will have an MPEG-4  file on your computer that you can play in various media player programs or even some media player boxes such as the Apple TV, Roku, or WD TV Live (more on that in a future episode). Enjoy your movie!


We have a supplemental video below that will go into detail about the new version of HandBrake, version 0.9.6. Previous versions of HandBrake for the Mac used the VLC program for its decryption. VLC no longer includes the decryption library so you need to download and install it separately.  We include the installation of the new library in this video. More info on HandBrake for the Mac and the decryption library is available on their forum.


  1. George

    I have some homemade dvds made from 8mm film—the Handbrake acts like it wants to work,
    then just stops, with no notice of error. Just quits.

    Any ideas?


  2. Andy Rush

    George (and anyone else has similar issues), While I can’t support HandBrake issues, I can suggest you see if you can play the DVD in a program like VLC, rip the DVD with other programs, a list of which is also on this site. Try it on another computer. Other than that I can only say that your DVD just might throw HB an unexpected error and there is no fix.

    • George

      Well…I purchased MacX DVD Ripper Pro last night—it does the same thing.

      • Andy Rush

        Does it play in VLC? You can record clips (MPEG2 format) from it. Otherwise try it on another computer, if you can.

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