Directly Rip and Convert Blu-ray Disks With Handbrake

| How-To

Handbrake is an excellent tool that allows you to take a movie and convert/compress it into a Mac-and-iOS-playable movie file. It's free, and it works. If you also have VLC installed Handbrake will read DVDs and convert them directly.

Blu-ray, disks, however, are not supported directly by this Handbrake/VLC combo, and that makes things frustrating. Typically you need to first rip the Blu-ray into some format that Handbrake will understand and then you can convert/compress from there. 

MakeMKV is one such program that will do that Blu-ray conversion. What many users don't realize, though, is that MakeMKV can be invoked on-the-fly to allow Handbrake to rip and convert/compress Blu-ray disks directly.

To do this, you first need to download and put Handbrake, VLC and MakeMKV into your Mac's Applications folder. The first two are completely free, the last is a paid app but Mike Chen, MakeMKV's author, has said that all of its features will remain free while in beta. You can get an updated key at any time during this extended beta directly from MakeMKV (or, you know, you can buy it and support its development <nudge>).

Once you've copied MakeMKV to your Applications folder, you need to point the OS at a special library baked inside of MakeMKV. This is the magic that will let Handbrake see your Blu-ray disks directly. The instructions (from this MakeMKV thread, also penned by Mike Chen) are to go to the Terminal and type the following (each of the 4 commands on their own separate line, followed by return):

cd ~

mkdir -p ~/lib

ln -s /Applications/ ~/lib/libaacs.dylib

ln -s /Applications/ ~/lib/libbdplus.dylib

So that you know what you're asking your computer to do, the 'cd' command just changes your directory (with ~ meaning "home"), the 'mkdir' command just creates a new folder and the 'ln -s' command creates a symlink (similar to a shortcut) to make these libraries visible in a spot that OS X would look.

That's it! From then on Handbrake will attach to your Blu-ray disks via these MakeMKV libraries, and you can use it just like you would with any other disk.

If your Mac doesn't already have a Blu-ray drive (and most don't, since none come from the factory that way), I've had 100% success with this USB Blu-ray player for US$42 from Amazon. Low price, works great. It's even Prime-eligible!

(As always, check your local laws before ripping disks. Here at TMO Towers in the US it has yet to be tested to see whether or not one actually has the right to back up a movie that one purchased).

Torn paper/disk image courtesy of Shutterstock.


Jeff Davies

Alternatively you could just get DVDfab inc their converter and do it all in one app. And play the Blu-rays on the Mac using their Media Player

Scott 2

I appreciate the post, since I already use all three apps to rip my purchased DVDs and Blu-rays. I was unaware that Handbrake could utilize the MakeMKV library so directly. So great tip.

However (and don’t you just hate it when people do this?), I really REALLY recommend users not rip this way. Even with DVDs. Ripping the content from the disc to an image first and then encoding later uses more disk space and takes longer, but it sure reduces the amount of time that optical drive sits thrashing. I have found, over hundreds of DVDs and several dozen Blu-rays, that I can rip one disc, start an encode in Handbrake (or using Robert Yamada’s (mac.jedi) excellent Batch Rip Actions for Automator), and rip another two or three discs during that first encode. Queuing up the encodes, my Blu-ray drive works hard for a fraction of the time while my Quad-Core gets to do what it does best.

Just a consideration…


Awesome, Dave!

Thanks, MUCHO!

Mark Withers

Very handy! I really enjoyed reading and will definitely use this as we often convert our blue-rays.
One caveat for me was
I had to first:
mkdir ~/lib
So that the ln commands would work.

Mark Withers

You had that command in there for the mkdir…and for some reason I didn’t see it at first. lol smile

Mark Withers

Great buy on the USB Blue-Ray drive!

Mike MacDonald

Can this be used via USB to my iMac? The description on Amazon mentions, “Note: If you connect with your Desktop Computers ,you need to connect it with the computer’s mortherboard “

Dave Hamilton

@Mike - yep, just plugs into a normal USB2 port. Nothing special after that (and I don’t think I even had to install drivers, if memory serves).


Great information!
While if you wanna skip the rip and convert process, you may choose some Blu-ray player software such as Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player which could play Blu-ray and DVD directly on Mac with an external Blu-ray drive. I think this is the best way to enjoy the original image.


I prefer watching movies in the living room on my Apple TV with my family.  How can I convert these MakeMKV files for import to iTunes so that they can be streamed over my gigabit network to my Apple TV?

Dave Hamilton

@Khürt - that’s exactly what we’re talking about above. If you use Handbrake to convert them to, say, the Apple TV 3 preset, then you can add the resulting file into iTunes and stream it to your ATV.

And a tip from Don Melton yesterday on Twitter to help limit the size while still keeping the quality up:

“I recommend starting with the HandBrake ‘AppleTV 3’ preset, change to ABR mode at 5000 kpbs, and add ‘ratetol=inf’ to the x264 advance option string. That should work for most Blu-ray input.”


Thanks Dave! Didn’t realize that’s what you were getting at.  I just bought a [portable blu-ray burner from OWC]( but was stumped as to how to convert my movies.  If this works well I may be able to retire my Sony BD player.


I picked up the recommended drive but Makemkv or Handbrake both don’t see the BR to be ripped. Maybe I missed a step?

Dave Hamilton

@Bowers - MakeMKV should see it regardless (just all by itself). Does the disk mount in the Finder OK? It should. If not, then maybe the drive is bad. If it does and MakeMKV *still* doesn’t see it, email us at and we’ll dig in deeper with your particulars.

Michael Johnston

Finally hit the “Buy now with 1-Click” button after much debate. It finally came down to the fact that I’m sitting here ripping movies on my MacBook even though they’re headed to my Mini. The Mini’s DVD drive has become increasingly bad at pulling error-free streams from my DVDs and of course I don’t know about it until I’m sitting there with popcorn half way into a good movie.

This will be a nice upgrade even though I don’t REALLY need Blu-Ray support… (but I want it). Thanks man!

Stephen Kac

Its great idea but it didn’t work and it made it so i can no longer play blurry movies on my computer with aiseesoft… Is there a way to undo the changes made?

Dave Hamilton

@Stephen Kac — interesting side-effect. I wonder what Aiseesoft is doing? smile

To “undo” the software changes applied here, you just need to remove the symlinks we created. The steps to do that would be to go to the terminal and type both of the following lines, each followed by a return/enter:

rm ~/lib/libaacs.dylib
rm ~/lib/libbdplus.dylib

That should (un-)do it!


Weird.  I followed the directions and downloaded the software needed.  My Mac recognizes the blu-ray.  When I select the drive in Handbrake it scans and then says, “no valid source found.”  Any suggestions?


I must be doing something wrong.  The only way I have gotten this to work is rip through MakeMKV and then after its done to then convert to whatever format I want using Handbrake.  Its taking twice as long depending on the BR. I can’t get Handbrake to just rip for me (DVD’s are fine, BR’s are not working).  Handbrake just says no valid source found.


@evank - I was getting the same error message in Handbrake after faithfully carrying out the steps above. I restarted MKV, then Handbrake and THEN, when choosing the source file, I chose the movie disk folder in the sidebar and NOT the BDMV file contained within that disk folder. [Whenever I chose the BDMV file on its own, I got the “no valid source found”; choosing the entire disk seems to work in Handbrake.]

BTW, cheers for this @Dave Hamilton!


Dave… thank you for posting these instructions. i have used it and successfully ripped over a hundred BDs to my backup drive. However, yesterday, it just stopped working. I’ve deleted and reinstalled all three programs, re-entered the commands in the terminal and… nothing. Just “No valid source found”. Nothing has changed on my system… any suggestions?


Fixed. Figured out by running MakeMKV alone that the beta trial activation key expired. Purchased a key, and it works fine now. I am happy to support the developers… it’s a great program and I use it a lot.

Michael Johnston

Just a heads-up to future readers: at some point this will mysteriously stop working. That’s because you didn’t follow Dave’s instructions wink Remember the part about a license key? And how it’s free while in beta? And the direct link posted to it above? Go click it and register MakeMKV using the code you find.

Happy ripping!

Chuck Forester

I just tried this with my favorite program - Handbrake. It worked perfectly with my brand new Pioneer BDR-XD05S on my late-2009 iMac. I’ll be purchasing MakeMKV when the Beta is done. I will not be paying the $60 that DVDFab is charging, hopefully. I’ll also be reading more Mac Observer.

Thanks for the article and all the informative posts.

Chuck Forester

PS - Another cool think about using Handbrake:

If MakeMKV fails, you still may be able to rip using Handbrake (but not full size).

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