How To: Rip a Blu-Ray movie on the Mac - Macenstein

How To: Rip a Blu-Ray movie on the Mac

Ahhh… Megan Fox’s midriff in stunning HD, as God intended it to be seen.

Last week I tweeted about having successfully ripped my first Blu-Ray disc on the Mac, and while the process wasn’t actually all THAT difficult, quite a few of you inquired about how I did it, and what my hardware/software setup was, so I figured I would throw this quick tutorial up.

First, the most important piece of the equation is that you have a Blu-Ray drive hooked to your Mac. I don’t anticipate Apple including them even as a BTO option any time soon, so your best bet is to go external. I happen to have used a LaCie d2 Blu-Ray 12x USB 2.0 and FireWire Drive 301906U just because we had one kicking around Macenstein Labs. Personally I am not a fan of LaCie’s hard drives (or more importantly, their power supplies) but to be fair the drive performed impeccably and was whisper quiet, so perhaps the external Blu-Ray drive will be their thing.

Most of you are likely familiar with the excellent Handbrake for ripping standard Def DVDs, but while the latest version of the software has added SOME support for reading Blu-Ray folder structures, it cannot yet decrypt the Blu-Ray discs the way it can with regular DVDs, so you’ll need to add an intermediate step. The software you’ll need is called MakeMKV.

Basically what it does is decrypt the Blu-Ray file into a GIANT MKV file (as large as 41 GB or so), which you can then use in Handbrake as a source instead of the Video_TS folder you’re used to in SD ripping. It works well, and reasonably fast, assuming you have a recent-ish system. I found my 2 year old unibody MBP did the decrypt in about real-time.

Step 1: Assuming you have downloaded both MakeMKV and Handbrake the first step is to load your Blu-Ray disc and fire up MakeMKV. The software should recognize the disc, and you can go ahead and hit the button on the left with the Blu-Ray disc and a green arrow pointing towards the hard drive to start the process (see below).


Step 2: You’ll then be presented with a list of chapters and titles that the software found on the disc, somewhat similar to how Handbrake works. You want to choose the largest one with the most chapters listed. I’ve found that depending on the disc, you may only see 2 or 3, as in the shot below, or as many as 15 or so.

Uncheck the other titles, and then twirl open the main one you’ve selected.


Step3: Uncheck everything except the Title, and the first two audio checkboxes (TrueHD 5.1 and DD 3/2) in the language of your choice, and Forced Subtitles (again, in the language of your choice). The hit the green MakeMKV button in the top right.


It should then start cooking.


Step 4: Once the file is done, the workflow is pretty much the same familiar Handbrake workfow you’re used to, except that you’ll be selecting your MKV file as the source instead of the Disc’s Video_TS folder. So fire up Handbrake, Hit SOURCE, select your MKV (possibly named Title00.mkv) and then choose your desired device preset from the preset window on the right. (If you don’t see a list of presets, hit the TOGGLE PRESETS button on the top right).

The only hiccup I have ever run into so far is in selecting the correct audio track. You may remember that when we ripped the movie using MakeMKV, we told it to give us both the TrueHD and the DD3/2 audio. I’m not entirely sure of the difference, but it seems that in my experience, certain discs work better with either track, so I rip both and then choose in Handbrake. For the most part, I choose Track 1 (see below) in Handbrake’s audio tab. What I usually do is choose a random chapter somewhere in the middle of the disc, and just rip a 6 minute section or so to see if everything sounds good. If yes, I then do the whole MKV with that track selected.


So there you have it. Pretty simple. The only thing to keep in mind is that with this workflow, you’re going to need to keep a good 50 GB or so free on your hard drive in order to make your source MKV. Obviously you can throw this out once you’ve made your iPod/iPad/AppleTV version.


24 Responses to “How To: Rip a Blu-Ray movie on the Mac”
  1. Ed says:

    Awesome, thanks Doc!

  2. BMOC says:

    this is Bitchin!

  3. MacDesigner says:

    What about subtitles, did your rip include forced english subtitles, Star Wars uses subtitles during the cantina scene with Han and Greedo. You have to choose forced only English to get the translation to show on a handbrake rip.

    • New_To_Mac says:

      Anybody have a solution for the question from MacDesigner (Feb. 13, 2011).
      About subtitles…??

    • DaWhoLagn says:

      At this time I don’t believe Handbrake supports forced subtitles for formats encoded for Apple devices. The workaround would be to include the correct subtitle option(usually #1) and then manually enable the use of the subtitle on your device.

    • Aimee says:

      Well, I have the same problem too, and I found this guide “What is the best DVD ripper that can rip DVD movies including subtitle on Mac OS X?” in iFunia, and would take a try, hope can solve the subtitles converting problem.

  4. Alf Nielsen says:

    nice, gonna give it a try once I get my hands on a BR.
    Thanks Doc 😉

  5. Gene says:

    Might Why wouldn’t/coudn’t a standard Blue Ray Player be used, instead of a Blu-Ray Drive.

  6. Rush says:

    I tried it & the makeMKV Beta worked great. VLC media player played the file fine. I was unable to get my handbrake Version 0.9.1 (2007100800) to use the file when i shwed the source file, I got this message, No Valid Title Found. I know it’s there and see it but Handbrake just wont pick it up, it even plays fine with VLC player. Your thoughts?

  7. Mark says:

    Hello, thanks for this article. I plan on trying MakeMKV out this weekend with an LG BE12LU30 that I recently purchased. I have a couple questions that I would like answered if possible. Is it possible to limit the file size in MakeMKV at all? I plan on backing up my Blu Ray and HD DVD collection and putting them on a Netgear Stora, which supports .MKV video playback. I was hoping to save some time by not having to convert/compress with Handbrake unless I absolutely have to, but putting 40+ GB videos on the Stora isn’t very practical.

    Thanks for your help!

  8. mercadocm says:

    Hi, thanks a lot for this guide. I’ve been looking for ways to put my blu-ray movies on my iPad and this is great! Do you have any recommendations for a more affordable blu-ray player for my iMac? Second, does it need to be a blu-ray burner or could it just be a blu-ray player?

    Thanks again!

  9. Iskander says:

    Hey thanks for your guide it works fine but i have 2 things that i have problems:
    – Forced Subtitles
    – Picture Settings
    Forced Subtitles don’t work in HandBrake how you put this in?
    My Movies have black bars on top and down is this normal?

  10. Gigaom says:

    Great idea! You might also have a look at Pavtube Blu-ray Ripper for Mac which directly translates a Blu-Ray into more than MKV-files. Pretty cool. Supports all kind of blu-ray features like chapters, different subtitles, etc. It helps you rip bluray with forced subtitles and provides editing functions to help you remove black borders.

  11. OGMill says:

    I know this post is old but perhaps you have an answer to my question, now that some time has elapsed. I would like to be able to back up my Blue Ray DVDs to a recordable Blue Ray disc. Is there a way to copy the commercial Blue Ray to MKV then burn it to a Blue Ray in that same .mkv file structure? My Sony s580 claims to be able to read .mkv files so there would be no reason to reconvert to the Blue Ray structure, or would there? Alternatively, is there a way to rip in the original file structure (standard commercial Blue Ray) and then burn back in the same file structure with or without the protection? How does 3-d file structure affect the equation? Thank you for your consideration.

  12. Drew says:

    Do you loose the high resolution of the Bluray when doing this?

  13. Scott says:

    I’m getting a notification that MakeMKV requires $50 for registration if you plan to use it for Blu-Ray, after a 30 day trial… Not cool.

    • ryan says:

      why is it not cool that they are asking $50? Do we really expect absolutely everything to be free?

      • Scott says:

        because this app is not worth $50 and also, why should a programmer that has developed something to bypass the copyright and anti-piracy laws make money off of it? Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

  14. homie says:

    I’m having an issue with the Titanic and Skyfall Blu-rays I just bought. The MKV seemed to work and created a file that is 25-35GB but when I run Handbrake (for 5 hours on an i7 iMac) with the Apple TV 3 or 2 setting. The MKV will run fine on VLC. But I get an 8-12 GB m4v file that will not run in VLC or import into iTunes with the handbrake conversion. I did get a 12GB version of Titanic out of the file with MP4tools but nothing from the Skyfall MKV.

    Any ideas? Copy protection?

    • homie says:

      Well, I think my problem was that I did not have “large file size” checked which makes large files unusable. Oops. I needed to read the FAQ’s for Handbrake.

  15. Andrew says:

    I managed to convert everything from my Blu Ray movies except for the dialogue when I attempted to play on my iPad Air. After reading this I worked out what I needed to do. Thanks Doctor Macenstein – I am glad you posted your step by step guide.

  16. chris198810 says:

    As Macs users well know, OS X still doesn’t support Blu-ray playback, nor has any Mac shipped with a drive capable of even reading or burning data on a Blu-ray disc. While to most of us, Blu-ray disc is an essential part of our life (If you lack a fast Internet connection, it may be quicker and easier to buy a Blu-ray disc than wait to download a file). Then it’s time to learn how you can watch and even rip Blu-ray discs on a Mac.

    As mentioned above, the MakeMKV is a good choice for ripping Blu-ray files on Mac OS X. Well, if the limited output MKV format can’t meet your needs for playing your Blu-ray rips anywhere you want, you can try a MakeMKV alternative like Brorsoft’s Blu-ray Ripper.

  17. Andrew says:

    How To Maximise Your HandBrake Conversion Quality:

    If you check the TV and video technical specifications for your model iPad / iPhone / iPod – you will ascertain what is the video and audio maximum capabilities. For the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 in the video tab 4.2 can be selected for the H.264 Level. (As per MacEnstein’s processes tick ‘large file size’ box and select H.264 Profile as high.)

    When it comes to maximum audio quality, ensure you have ripped all the English audio tracks from the Blu-Ray disk using MakeMKV as sometimes the programme will untick some of the English audio tracks. In HandBrake’s audio tab select the track that has DTS-HD MA as first preference or any audio track that has HD in it as second preference. (I don’t think a HD option is available in older movies filmed before high definition cameras existed.) The maximum bit rate that current iPads (as of June 2014) can play is 160 bps. A higher than 160 bps bit rate will cause the movie to playback on an iPad with no actor dialogue. I believe the best mix down is 5.1 channels and so far I have found that AC3 codec doesn’t support a bit rate as low as 160 bps so change codec, in this order, to either AAC (ffmpeg) or AAC (faac) or AAC (CoreAudio) until 5.1 channels and 160 bps are achieved.

    This will make most movies saved in iTunes, 6 – 10 GB in size – this is better than DVD quality. As you are aware that iOS devices have only two speakers to provide stereo output; I suspect that when AirPlay mirroring to an Apple TV (third generation) or Lightning digital AV adapter connected to a HDMI TV that the 5.1 surround sound will transmit as the 1080p HD video content does.

    I’m not an expert in video and audio so if I am incorrect in anything I have typed then some constructive criticism is welcomed. My intention is to help others as did MacEnstein assist me to successfully playback my Blu-Ray DVDs on my iPad Air.

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