DVD region switching workaround for macbook
October 5, 2012 4:27 AM   Subscribe

Watching European and US DVDs on a macbook pro: To avoid the region problems, can you keep your internal drive set to region 2 and use an external drive for region 1 DVDs?

My SO has a macbook pro, and likes to watch films on it. She has a pile of region 2 DVDs and, when she's in the US, access to a good collection of region 1 DVDs.

The macbook was sold in Europe, and is currently set to play region 2 DVDs. As far as we can tell, she *can* change the drive's region, but only five times, and then it's locked into that last region forever.

The most obvious work around seems to be to leave the internal drive on region 2, and buy an external DVD drive, set to Region 1. Then watch European DVDs with the internal drive and US DVDs with the external. Is this possible? It feels a little too obvious.

If it is possible, what should we look for when choosing an external drive?

Is there a better solution for region switching on a macbook pro that we're overlooking?

(Yes, ripping or pirating all of her DVDs from one region then leaving the drive set to the other region is a possibility. But for reasons that are not interesting enough to get into here, we'd rather avoid doing that.)
posted by metaBugs to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My understanding is that the region is set within the hardware of the DVD drive, so what you are proposing should work.

(There are some dicier ways of going about this which need you to patch the firmware on your drive to be region-free. The so-called "Region-X" software doesn't work unless you have a region-free drive already. An alternative is to use VLC.)
posted by outlier at 4:39 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Setting "when you insert a video DVD" to: ignore. In the CDS & DVDs System Preference, and then using VLC to play DVDs seems to work well when playing multi region discs.

It needs to be done prior to the final region lock on the drive. Once it's locked I don't know of any way around the problem, other than replacing the drive.
posted by Packed Lunch at 5:23 AM on October 5, 2012

There are some dicier ways of going about this which need you to patch the firmware on your drive to be region-free.

While dicey, this actually is the best solution to your problem and, when done correctly, will allow you to watch DVDs from any region.

You should able to find the specifications for the DVD drive from the computer's original specification or in the device manager settings. Make a note of the device name and manufacturer and try The Firmware Page to suss out what firmware you'll need to use to reset the drive. eHow has instructions on how to update the firmware. It is very important that you follow the instructions to the letter so you don't brick the drive. I've done this at work for testing and on a drive at home, so feel free to Memail me if you need assistance.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:50 AM on October 5, 2012

No need to change the region. Use VLC to play your DVDs instead. The Mac, by default, will use the built in DVD player which will reject the DVD from an "incorrect" region. To avoid this go to System Preferences, select "CD & DVDs", and change the "When you insert a Video DVD" to "Ignore".

Now when you pop in a DVD (regardless of in or out of region), nothing happens; just launch VLC and go your way. You could also set the System Preferences to launch VLC, iirc.
posted by techSupp0rt at 1:32 PM on October 5, 2012

I seem to recall having to change the firmware on my macbook pro's dvd drive from RPC2 to RPC1 before VLC would work as a multi-region player. Something about Matshita drives actually enforcing region restrictions at the hardware level, to an extent that other manufacturers' drives didn't. Is that not the case any more? The macbook I have is five years old now, so maybe newer ones are better (in that they have more permissive drives).
posted by hades at 5:08 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Looking to Hack my Bra and Stop the Chafing   |   Bug on my neck! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.