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Summary:

Despite lack of official support, you can use Blu-ray on the Mac. It just takes a few more steps than on a Windows machine, and only comes with a lot of help from third-party software. But it can be done. Here’s how.

apple-blu-ray

Despite lack of official support, you can use Blu-ray on the Mac. It just takes a few more steps than on a Windows machine, and it depends on your hardware. For internal solutions, you’ll have to have a Mac Pro, but external drives will let you add Blu-ray abilities to any OS X computer. Along with some help from third-party software.

For the hardware side of things, Other World Computing has a variety of Blu-ray solutions for all Macs, as well as instructional videos on how to upgrade your Mac Pro with a new Blu-ray burner. Once you’ve got that part taken care of, you’ll need special software to make use of your new drive.

Burn High Definition Blu-ray Content

With more cameras supporting HD video, the desire to burn that content on a format that supports HD playback is increasingly important. Toast Titanium has had the ability to burn to Blu-ray discs since Toast 7.  Version 10 supports Blu-ray through a $20 plugin.  It works especially well with high-def videos created on your iPhone, Flip or other HD video cameras.  Just drag and drop your raw video files into a new Blu-ray video project and click the big red burn button. Be warned, the process can take quite some time to complete depending on your source format. If you opt to purchase Toast with your Blu-ray burner from OWC, you may want to check out its step-by-step account of how to burn your high-def video.  Toast developer Roxio also has a video tutorial of the process on its site.

Rip Blu-ray Content to Your Hard Drive

When it comes to getting the raw content of a Blu-ray disc onto your hard drive, Pavtube Blu-ray Ripper is about as good as it gets. Using the “Full Disc Copy” feature, you can preserve the Blu-ray’s original file structure.  The process is straightforward. Insert the Blu-ray disc, click on the “Full Disc Copy” button, and select a folder to copy to.  While Pavtube Blu-ray Ripper also supports conversion to popular device formats, I find that getting the raw Blu-ray files onto my hard drive, then using another tool like Handbrake to convert the file to the format I want is easier. Using the latest release of Handbrake which can now read Blu-ray file structures, and has an updated template that supports the latest Apple TV yields noticeably better results. Pavtube Blu-ray Ripper is on sale at the company’s site through Jan. 10, 2011 if you choose this option.

Play Blu-ray Movies on Your Mac

This is where it all starts to fall apart. Direct playback of Blu-ray content from the disc directly to a player is the real forbidden fruit. Leaving aside that Steve Jobs has changed Apple’s status regarding Blu-ray support from “Bag of Hurt” to “Mafia,” one would think that an independent developer would have stepped up sometime in the last two years to fill the gap.

You can work around this limitation by streaming a movie from a Blu-ray disc using MakeMKV and  then open the networked stream in VLC.  This trick may come in handy if you want to watch a Blu-ray movie on your MacBook Air using your Blu-ray drive in your Mac Pro.  The interesting part is that VLC can play the raw MPEG-2 Transport Stream files (.m2ts extension) after they have been ripped to the hard drive as outlined above, but can’t find the files on the disc itself.

Actually watching Blu-ray movies is my last priority when using the format on my Mac. Backing up or archiving content, or transferring my digital memories into a format I can easily share with friends and relatives are much more relevant. If I want to watch a movie, I’ll use Netflix or iTunes, which is probably why Blu-ray never officially made it to the Mac to begin with.

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  1. Hamranhansenhansen Friday, January 7, 2011

    It says a lot about Blu-Ray that this post is about working around its antique problems. The final nail in the coffin is USB flash drives that are cheaper than Blu-Ray blanks.

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  2. You might also have a look at MakeMKV which directly translates a Blu-Ray into MKV-files. Pretty cool. Supports all kind of blu-ray features like chapters, different subtitles, etc.

    http://makemkv.com/

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    1. As indicated by my streaming to VLC from MakeMKV comment above, I did give it a look and did like it because it only supported ripping to MKV. Pavtube supports ripping to MKV and many, many more formats including the ‘raw’ blu-ray directory structure. MakeMKV does still seem to be an online favorite though. Not sure why though.

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  3. Thanks for the info. I wish Apple would make it an official option. ~heavy sigh~

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  4. Helpful post! Purchased the Pavtube Mac Blu-ray Ripper software and it works excellent so far. Made backups yesterday of the Twilight Eclipse and The Expendables using the “Full Disc Copy” feature. Stunning image quality. Also used the H.264 format for iPad as it seems to provide a good compromise between image quality and file size.I’m going to have my favourite movies on my iPad with the software…

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  5. Urgh.

    My macbook pro just ejects my blu ray disc after 20 secs every time :(
    any help??

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    1. You would need to first replace the internal slot loading SuperDrive with one that supports Blue-Ray. No shipping Mac from Apple supports Blue-Ray. In the article above, I replaced the internal SuperDrive with a Blue-Ray drive I purchased from MacSales.com.

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