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How to rip DVDs to your mobile device

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How to rip DVDs to your mobile device
With carriers switching to data limits these days you might start thinking twice before streaming endless videos to your mobile device, the good news is with increasing onboard storage and lower prices on larger capacity microSD cards, the lowly DVD can get a second life by being ripped to a mobile friendly format.

So before you head out on that next family vacation with a stack of DVDs for the kids or get stuck on an airplane with no way to stream your favorite videos, take some time to read through this tutorial and start ripping DVDs for your next mobile adventure.

There are several software packages available out there that can easily and efficiently rip DVDs while keeping the file size in check so that you can cram a bunch of movies on your favorite smartphone or tablet. For this tutorial we are going to use HandBrake. HandBrake is an “open source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for Mac OS X Linux, and Windows.” In short, it’s free and works on all platforms. It also has presets for iOS and Android devices making it super simple for beginners.

With that being said, first things first, head on over to http://handbrake.fr/ and download and install the correct version of HandBrake for your operating system. Because HandBrake doesn’t include decoding libraries anymore, you will also need to grab a copy of VLC Media Player so that HandBrake can use the VLC libraries. VLC is also free and can be obtained at http://www.videolan.org/.

Because HandBrake can’t handle copy protected DVDs, we need one more file in order to rip our DVDs properly. Skipping this step will cause OS X users to get an error that says, “HandBrake could not find a compatible version of libdvdcss.” Windows users will go through the entire ripping process only to get garbled video and audio.

Follow the correct link based on the copy of HandBrake you downloaded:


OS X users can either download the libdvdcss.2.dylib file and place it in /usr/lib/ or download the libdvdcss.pkg and run the package installer, which will put it in the correct location for you. The second method is recommended for ease of installation.

Windows users need to download the correct libdvdcss-2.dll file. Make sure you download the same –bit version of the file as the version of HandBrake you downloaded otherwise you will end up with unplayable files. Copy that file into your HandBrake’s installation folder. The default location is c:\Program Files\HandBrake\. Finally, rename the file, removing the "-2", to "libdvdcss.dll" (without quotes).

Select Source

Select Source

Once that is installed, you can insert your DVD into the drive and launch HandBrake. OS X users will be greeted by a screen that looks similar to the one on the right. If you didn’t get this screen, forgot to insert the DVD, accidentally hit cancel, or are on Windows, no biggie – simple select the icon that looks like a clapboard that is labeled “Source” on the top left of the menu bar. Then, select your DVD drive and click open.

Once you select your source HandBrake will spend a few minutes or so scanning the source drive. The speed of this step basically depends on the speed of your optical drive; so if it doesn’t finish right away, don’t panic. Just grab a cup of coffee or something and it’ll finish soon enough.

Select Title

Select Title

One that finishes, you want to select the Title that you want to rip. As you can see, the dropbox is filled with Chapter numbers and clip durations. In most cases, you can simply select the one that is the longest and that will be your feature. In other cases, such as a collection of TV shows, a specific special feature you want, or the DVD has more than one version of the film on it, you may need to figure out what clip is what. In our case, the particular DVD that we are using for this tutorial is the unrated edition of Grandma’s Boy. This DVD includes the unrated version and the original theatrical release. In order to determine that you are ripping the correct clip, play the disc on your computer’s DVD player. Once you play the specific content you want, you can view the chapter number.

Title 2 of 31

Title 2 of 31

The method will depend on your DVD player software. For example, in DVD Player that comes with OS X, you can simply click on “title” in the control panel and it will show you which title you are currently viewing. In our case as you can see in the picture, the unrated version of the film is actually Title 2 of 31. Windows users can also use VLC Media Player, that was downloaded at the beginning of this tutorial, to find out title numbers.

Once you select the correct title, you have the option to chose the angle and specific chapters. You can leave this set to the default settings unless for some reason you don’t want the entire movie or your disc supports different angles that you want to capture instead.

Underneath Source, you will see a section labeled “Destination.” At this point you can simply select where you want to save your video file. We highly recommend you output it to your computer’s hard drive and copy it to your mobile device after the rip is complete rather than going directly to your device.

Next we move on to the meat and potatoes of HandBrake – the Output Settings.

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