Playing region 1 DVDs on a region 2 mac
October 20, 2007 4:43 PM   Subscribe

is it possible to play region 1 DVDs on a region 2 macbook without changing the drive setting? I can play them using VLC player on my PC but the mac just ejects the disc if I don't change the drive setting to region 1. Is there any way around this or will I have to keep my old PC around to play all my American DVDs?
posted by Andy Harwood to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I havent found a way to hack the Mac/Macbook DVD drive to make it region free. AFAIK, this isn't possible.

The way I get around it is by strippping the region code from the DVD using MacTheRipper. You just feed the original DVD, and it will dump the DVD to a disc image with the region code removed, as well as any Macrovision protection and CSS removed. You can then mount the disc image, and play it in DVD Player
posted by melorama at 4:54 PM on October 20, 2007

No. Some drives don't even let you do the raw reading that VLC requires if the disc hasn't been "unlocked" by running DVD Player in the right region. You might have better luck with an external DVD drive. (Put your PC's drive in a firewire enclosure, perhaps.)

Your best bet is to rip the disc on the PC and move the rip to the Mac.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:55 PM on October 20, 2007

Try at your own risk.
posted by sharkfu at 5:01 PM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

That takes some time, though. If money & portability can be sacrificed, another drive can be bought, set to region 1 and plugged in as needed. Of course, if it were my DVD library that I suddenly couldn't play because of industry BS, I'd download handbrake or MacTheRipper and probably both.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 5:09 PM on October 20, 2007

Just a caveat with TG's MTR link...that site links to MTR 2.6.6 as the available download, which is not a Universal Binary. If you read the comments in this post on the RipDifferent site, you'll find out how you can download beta of MTR 3.0, which is much improved, and is a Universal Binary that will perform much better on your Macbook.
posted by melorama at 5:14 PM on October 20, 2007

2nding MacTheRipper. You can rip and strip out the region encoding. If you have a strong need for a physical disc, you can even burn the new ISO to a blank DVD and it will work fine in most DVD players and computers. If you have tons of disc space on your network, you can even save all the ISOs and just mount as needed and watch whatever movie you want without a disc.
posted by MasterShake at 5:16 PM on October 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

System Preferences -> CDs and DVDs -> When you insert a video DVD: Ignore. Then you can play it in VLC.
posted by gramcracker at 5:17 PM on October 20, 2007

I had much the same issue with this, but the other direction. I left the UK with a sizeable wallet of DVD's and moved to Canada, and now I have to use my work laptop to play them, and leave my Mac for the ones I buy over here.

Irritates the shit out of me.

I am, when I can be arsed, going to rip all the UK ones onto disks and sell the UK ones when I next go back home. The fact that I have a perfectly legitimate need to play disks that I paid for - legally! - yet can't fucks me off in such a massive manner that I consequently lost any respect I had for the concept of avoiding movie piracy.
posted by Brockles at 5:26 PM on October 20, 2007

I meant to add, to make my answer useful, that after lengthy searching, I couldn't find anything that wasn't a total hassle other than the 'rip them and make pirates of your perfectly legal dvd's"

Sorry. I'm getting ll wound up about it again.
posted by Brockles at 5:27 PM on October 20, 2007

Brockles, did you try the firmware in my post?
posted by sharkfu at 6:26 PM on October 20, 2007

There are firmware hacks for some of the Matsushita drives used in Macbooks. Go here and see if you have a model number that matches. This procedure is not risk-free, so don't blame me (or anyone else) if you ruin your dvd player.
posted by O9scar at 6:26 PM on October 20, 2007

Response by poster: Gramcracker's suggestion worked a little - 4 of the 8 DVDs I tried played. I'll try ripping the ones that didn't. I don't think it's worth trying anything risky when I can easily use my PC.
posted by Andy Harwood at 7:03 PM on October 20, 2007

sharkfu: I looked at a similar link to that when I was searching late last year, but the whole 'You may entirely fuck your computer up' provisos scared me off. The one you have linked to seems to have an undo option, so I'm reading up on it and downloading it now.

I'll let you know how it goes....
posted by Brockles at 7:13 PM on October 20, 2007

Hmmm. It doesn't seem to work. The stages all worked - the DVD drive now displays as region free, but changing the region with Region X has no affect at all.

Bah. Nothing got screwed, but it doesn't let me read my region 2 things. The disk image appears (as usual) but I can't play it.

Arses. I got all excited and everything.
posted by Brockles at 7:59 PM on October 20, 2007

Hmm...I just tried it myself on my 2.16 Macbook Pro (UJ-857 with HAEA firmware), and it works great! I can now watch my Louis Theroux DVDs from the original discs, instead of my MTR'ed rips.

Thanks for the link, sharkfu!
posted by melorama at 8:38 PM on October 20, 2007

I got region-free firmware for the SuperDrives in both my iMac and my MacBook from here.
posted by mrbill at 8:40 PM on October 20, 2007

The answer is 'no,' unless you update the firmware.

Unfortunately, the kind folks who brought you the DVD Region Code nonsense in the first place (in order to better gouge you!), decided to "improve" the system a few years back. Rather than just enforcing the region codes in the playback software (trivially avoided by using software that ignores it, like VLC, or most el-cheapo Chinese set-top DVD players), they started mandating that the region coding be enforced by the drive mechanism itself, in firmware.

The drives have only a certain number of region switches before they're (more or less) permanently set, just as an additional charming feature.

You can get 'region free' firmware hacks for many common drives, but I woudn't do it to your expensive MacBook internal drive. If I were you, I'd get a cheaper generic DVD, and hack that instead. (Or just get one that's old enough that it doesn't have "RPC2" -- that's the crippling technology -- anything from 1999 or earlier is safe, if you can find it.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:45 PM on October 20, 2007

Clarification: I mean get a cheaper external DVD drive, probably in a Firewire-to-IDE box so you can interface it to the Macbook.

You may need to put the drive into a PC's internal bay to do the firmware flash, and then move it into the Firewire box once the deed is done.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:48 PM on October 20, 2007

There's another option that no one seems to have mentioned -- if you have a MacBook, you could install Windows.

I got tired of VLC et al refusing to play so many copy-protected DVDs on my MacBook (both regions 1 and 2) so now I split the difference: I leave the OS X DVD Player set on region 1 (since I play those more often) and when I want to play region 2, I just boot into WinXP.
posted by macdara at 2:36 AM on October 21, 2007

Interesting. It seems that it DOES work, as I can now rip my DVD's from region 2 (I love Handbrake!), but I can't play them in front row...

I will check to see if there is some sort of region checker in there...
posted by Brockles at 11:21 AM on October 21, 2007

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