I have a non-encrypted DVD (of my wedding, if you must know) and I was wondering if I could extract clips from the DVD into files in some standard video format (i.e. clip1.mp4) so I can look at them on my iMac and perhaps upload them to YouTube.

I suppose I would be willing to install software for this, but I'm especially curious to know if the software that shipped with my iMac (i.e. iLife) can do this. I clicked around under "File -> Import" in iMovie but haven't been able to figure it out. I regularly import video from my video camera into iMovie, but I've never imported video from a DVD before.

Here's a listing of the DVD contents:

imac:~ pdurbin$ cd /Volumes/ClickToDVD
imac:ClickToDVD pdurbin$ find .
imac:ClickToDVD pdurbin$ 
  • Handbrake + VLC can handle most encrypted DVD's as well. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


I would look into using Handbrake, the iLife suite is good for some things, but not this scenario - it will let you create and edit films that are already in a decent file format, or burn them to a DVD, but not take from a DVD with ease (or at all).

While it is possible to snip a portion of a DVD, it's not desirable for a number of reasons, mainly file size. A DVD is encoded in Mpeg2. Good for DVDs, or it was when it was when DVDs were new, but woefully poor compared to a modern codec like H.264. A 3-hour film might take up 8Gb of space on a dual layer DVD, but perhaps as little as 1Gb in a more modern format. Certainly, if the intended recipient is YouTube, then reducing the quality and resolution can easily also reduce file size 20x +, which makes for quicker uploads.

So, considering that, what you will end up doing, regardless of what program you use, is decoding the Mpeg 2 and re-encoding it into something else rather than snipping out (Could be h.264, DivX or any number of others, all of which provide the same quality or better (You can't improve a bad source) at massively lower file sizes). h.264 is a good choice, YouTube use it directly for delivery to mobile devices.

Handbrake lets you choose by DVD chapter, DVD Chapter Episode, or just a section of seconds and quickly re-encode it into something more modern and more suitable for computing use rather than brown box DVD player use. It will do loads of other things, including messing around with subtitles and multiple audio channels (think directors commentary) which your wedding video is unlikely to have, but it's nice to have the ability if you need it for something else later.

Handbrake is free, works on Windows/Mac/Linux, and is actively developed & updated, so a popular choice.

  • Thanks for this answer. I went ahead and accepted it as I'm not sure iLife or other software from Apple will work. I did try creating a .dmg of the DVD per "Part 2. How to import Non-Commercial DVD into iMovie" of "Hassle-free Ways to convert DVDs to iMovie on Mac OS X" at iskysoft.com/rip-dvd/convert-dvd-to-imovie-mac.html but I never saw "Camera Detected, Scanning Contents" in iMovie. Commented Feb 11, 2012 at 20:58
  • 1
    HandBrake is working great. Thanks. I didn't feel like installing it on my wife's iMac, but I installed it on Linux and was able to extract a chapter successfully with the defaults as media.m4v. In order to play back the video on Linux I had to install gstreamer-ffmpeg, but I'm sure it'll play fine on the iMac. I'm still a little disappointed this functionality isn't available from iLife or OS X itself but I guess it doesn't matter ultimately. I'm glad I won't to worry about losing or scratching my wedding DVD. Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 2:12

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