How to watch a DVD on Apple TV



I just set up my Apple TV and was very surprised that when I played a DVD from my Macbook  it came out all grey on the Apple TV. This thread claims that you cannot play a DVD on Apple TV due to copyright. Here are two ways to get around Apple’s DVD viewing protection.

To play a DVD on an Apple TV you need to load the DVD into another computer  then ‘stream’ it to the Apple TV.  You can do this with movies you have hired or purchased from the Apple store, but when you try to view a DVD, it comes out grey.

 “The licensing from the DVD technology owners generally prevent video DVDs from being streamed, mirrored, or otherwise displayed on anything other than the device for which the player has been licensed.” (Apple support thread)

I believe it is legal to watch a DVD you have purchased or rented.

Here are two ways to watch a DVD on Apple TV:

1. Instead of using the Apple DVD player to watch the movie, use VLC. (VLC is free.) VLC does not have the greyed out problem. You can do this live.

2. RIP the DVD to your computer using Handbrake. (Handbrake is free.)  In Handbreak select  ‘Apple TV’ as the preset. You can then drop the movie into iTunes and access it from your Apple TV. You need to do this before you watch the movie and it can take up to an hour or two.  Alternatively you can copy the ripped DVD to a thumb drive and stick the thumb drive into the Apple TV USB port.



16 responses to “How to watch a DVD on Apple TV”

  1. Anne

    This has happened even with VLC. Not only does the TV hooked up to the Apple TV go grey, so does my MacBook — so long as the AppleTV is set to “computer”.
    This does not seem to affect the sound.
    Also, I am left with a reduced screen on my MacBook – a black bar stays across the top of the MacBook screen (and the rest of the display seems in a bigger font).
    Any thoughts?
    Thanks — from a mom whose tech support is 4,000 kms. away :(

  2. george

    I can’t believe this! But it is correct. If the Apple TV is connected the DVD is useless even to be watched on the system the DVD is connected to. Damn Apple has become what it once mocked, a Fascist tool of the State.

    And worse, searching their discussion boards doesn’t provide an answer. A few are posted but years later not answered.

    Sad but true.

    1. Yes it still doesn’t work and its 2016 – 3 years since I first wrote this post!

  3. Susan

    Well thanks for all this information. Now I know that it isn’t my low-tech problem! Guess I’ll just watch the small screen or move to a room with the DVD player:(

  4. David Burton

    VLC media player works for me. Thanks for the tip.

  5. Jackson

    The Wonderfox DVD ripper pro I am using now is a great DVD crawler, but I don’t know if I can copy dvd to apple tv

    1. You should be able to make it good for Apple TV using Handbrake.

  6. Steve

    Seems like a lot of work to write a web article about something that doesn’t even work

  7. Howie

    Worked perfectly for me. thanks for the tip.

  8. K

    VLC works like a charm! I was skeptical (…haha…) but thankfully the chance was rewarded. Tremendous thanks to the original poster. I paid good money for my DVD’s, so it’s nice to be able to watch it from the laptop>>bigger screen via Apple TV. Really grateful for the shared wisdom.

  9. Smith

    Thanks! I just got the external drive and was irritated beyond belief that it wasn’t working with Air Play. All these issues makes me want to go back to the PC!

  10. Thevang

    We just today opened up our new Apple TV and this question (how do we easily stream our DVD collection?) came to mind immediately. I found this article and can’t wait to give it a try — have to buy an external DVD drive as our 2 Macs don’t have one. Anyway, look forward to trying this and reporting back. No clue what VLC is but assume it’s a software we can use for this.

  11. Mike

    Just worked for me using VLC, thank you for the great tip.


    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! After wrestling with the geeks at our local computer shop, I finally found the answer to how to stream my DVDs on Apple TV.

  13. YC YANCH Apple Watch Sport Band

    Thank you so much! I couldn’t get the DVD to work to show a movie to my students. Your directions were easy to understand and quick to apply.

  14. renl

    I installed HandBrake but it didn’t seem to be able to read my DVDs. So, I read through the features of HandBrake and found that it can’t support copy-protected sources. I guess this is what the problem is. So, I had to find an alternative. I got WinX DVD Ripper. Thank god, it worked. Finally, I successfully imported my DVD movies into iTunes and played on my Apple TV.

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