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I moved to different continents a few times (Europe -> North America -> Asia -> Europe) and ended up with a stack of DVDs I can't play now.

I looked around for a firmware update for my iMac, but it doesn't look like it exists:

http://www.rpc1.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=49450

Since I got the DVDs legitimately, I feel like I have the right to play them. So my question is, I mainly have a whole bunch of DVDs from North America. Is my only safe option to buy a secondary external DVD player for this region, or is it possible to find a region-free DVD player altogether (I'm in Germany right now). I had trouble finding it.

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non-computer solution: if you get down to New Zealand, a lot of our dvd players are multi-zone. IIRC our power supplies are euro-compatible too. –  LRE Jul 10 '12 at 21:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

What I believe you can do is to use VLC instead of the built-in DVD Player app to play your DVDs.

I've had a similar problem, because DVD Player always wanted me to pick one region. I then discovered that if I play the DVD in VLC it doesn't ask me about any region settings and just plays the movie.

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1  
Yes, VLC is the way to go. I used that for all new Macs that I got so far, and I've never had to switch DVD regions aside to setting it up for the first time. –  XCool Jun 28 '12 at 4:07
    
@XCool: I didn't even set it up the first time, and it still works :) –  houbysoft Jun 28 '12 at 4:12
    
I don't recall what happened, but I was kinda forced to set it up once, and I set it to Region 1. But that's about it. :) –  XCool Jun 28 '12 at 5:23
    
I will try this! –  Evert Jun 28 '12 at 8:33
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Depending on your Mac, it can be a software limitation, or a firmware limitation. If VLC works, then you're in luck, and it was simply a software limitation! On some Macs, it's enforced in firmware, and VLC can't help. In these cases, there is sometimes (but not always) a region-free firmware you can try, if you're brave. –  Ken Aug 23 '12 at 5:50

I have a MacBook Pro and I followed a similar solution to the one above.

  1. Download VLC.
  2. Open System PreferencesCD's and DVD's.
  3. Set When you insert a video DVD to VLC.

Works like a charm. It is the DVD player that is bound to regional restrictions.

Note, your video may not start up automatically when you insert a DVD (but VLC will) so you may have click "open file" to play it. It will then play with normal functionality, except that you will have to manually select "fullscreen" if you should so desire.

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VLC may not be an adequate solutions -- on some Macs (my 2009 Mac Pro, for one), if a drive doesn't have a matching region code, it won't serve data to VLC or any other software. If you have such a drive, your only solution will be to get another DVD drive that is not so restrictive. The external superdrive that I use with my Macbook Air, for example, allows the VLC trick to work, and allows me to rip non-U.S. discs so I can convert them to universal format and play them on my DVD player.

I don't know of any way to tell the friendly drives from the unfriendly ones except by trial and error.

Remember to go to System Preferences, "CDs & DVDs" and set "When you insert a video DVD" to "Ignore" before you try any of these tricks. If it's set to "Open DVD Player," that program will do a region check every time, which you do not want.

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