Region Free your DVD with VLC

Every time I get a piece of pseudo-spam from Amazon these days it’s pushing multi-region DVD players for £29.99 and I get slightly peeved. Not because they’re selling them but because the DVD drive I bought quite recently for my Mac isn’t region-free, having that stupid “5 changes and you’re locked” thing going on. It strikes me as very stupid indeed that a piece of specialist kit for my computer than can do pretty much anything I want it to is not as good as a cheap mass market player in this regard.

So it was with some glee that I discovered, via Cult of Mac, something rather cool. The excellent VLC player (which plays pretty much any movie format under the sun) ignores region coding. Disable the annoying DVD player app that comes with OSX, open the disc in VLC and it plays. No firmware zapping necessary.

Score yet another one for open source, methinks.

(I don’t know if this applies to Windows but I’d be surprised if it doesn’t)

[Update: a new Cult of Mac post has more on DVD ripping and video playback]

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7 Responses to Region Free your DVD with VLC

  1. Dad says:

    Yes, I found this solution earlier this year and then lost it when my Powerbook was stolen in London in June. VLC has its problems; for example it does not seem to uncompress the video image as well as the Apple app and this is best seen when displaying in full screen mode. On the other hand, imagine having half your DVDs in Region 1 and the other half in Region 2 because you happen to have moved from one country to another. I was not aware of the 5 switches and you’re out rule when I bought my Powerbook. Anyway, thanks for the reminder – it works with avi files as well! (but then you knew that!)

  2. Martin says:

    Hi there,

    I’ve found that I can’t load different regions into VLC for some reason. Is there a trick to it???

    Martin

  3. Pete Ashton says:

    Hi Martin.

    Do you mean when you put a DVD with the “wrong” region in your Mac the Finder itself rejects it? Or is VLC rejecting it? Or is the Apple DVD player kicking in and rejecting it before VLC can have a go?

    It could be that the DVD has some super-region coding on it (some new ones do aparently, refusing to play on anything set to Region 0, though I don’t think that would make any difference here) or it could be, um… something else…

    One other trick (again assuming you’re using a Mac) would be to rip the whole disk to your hard drive using Mac The Ripper (shit name, great app) which removes all region coding and play it from the hard drive, assuming you have a spare 8 gig or so.

  4. Pete Ashton says:

    Oh, and from that Cult Of Mac post there’s a mention that the VLC trick doesn’t work on newer Macs, so that might be the problem. Try the ripping trick. Let me know if it works.

  5. Dominique says:

    Well,

    now I understand why the VLC does not work on my machine. I am quite despearate to find something that allows me to watch dvds from any region on my Mac. VLC does not do the trick (although I managed to watch one or the other non region 2 dvd). Xine (which works fantastically well under Linux) and MPlayer are no better.

    By the way on my new Win notebook VLC does not work either. For Windows user there is a fantastic shareware (http://www.dvdidle.com/ , 30 days free trial) but I am not aware of any similar software for Mac (I tried MacTheRipper but no positive result). This is a shame because I have legally purchased DVDs from 3 differenet regions and cannot play them. I would be very grateful for any advice.

  6. nontechgirl says:

    Help, I am desperate! I’ve just moved from canada to the continent and am unable to play any continental dvds on mt powerbook g4,Processor 1.33 GHz MacOSX version 10.3.4. I’m furious as i have just purchased a lot of dvds and want to see them- if i read about Mac the Ripper, they claim i can ruin my computer, and what is with these other applications. I, dumb as I am, called Mac and asked how to fix this mess and the guy went bsllistic,claiming that i was asking him something totally illegal. oops.. HELP!
    nontechgirl

  7. Longbow says:

    hi Nontechgirl,

    I thnk the Mac guy had the reason to go ballistic. However you can ask him to reset the regions of your drive.

    Otherwise use Mac the Ripper, as per my legal knowledge it is perfectly legal as well as efficient way to transfer the DVD’s to hard drive. Since it will also erase the region restrictions.

    However try this website,

    http://www.afterdawn.com/software/alternative_platforms/mac_software/

    I haven’t had much to brows through it but I think you should be able to find it usefull.