Best Free DVD Player Software for Windows or Mac

Jessie T. used our Ask the Burning Geek form to ask the following question:

“I’m looking for a software that can play DVD movies in addition to ones I download. What is the best software to do this?”

So to answer her question I thought it would be best to add it to our blog so everyone could benefit. Or perhaps someone else has a better recommendation that I would welcome in the comments section. Please list what you are currently using to playback video, DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.. on your Windows, Linux, or Mac machines.

Ok, what I think is the best free DVD/Video player currently is VLC Media Player. Why do I think it’s the best?  Well for starters it’s open source and a non profit organization run by volunteers which usually means they are trying to offer the best solution naturally.  Others than being free the main reasons I like this are:

  • It’s fast loading. No clunky high res image menu screens trying to load.
  • It supports almost all playback mediums like DVD and DVB and video formats like DivX, MKV, MP4, x264, etc…
  • It can stream video from streaming video sites
  • It can play AVCHD format which is used on HD camcorders
  • Cross platform support. Works on Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD, Solaris and others
  • It’s an excellent basic audio and music player with playback supporting MP3, AAC, AC3, Vorbis, FLAC

Included Decoding and Encoding API’s

One of the major reasons VLC is so popular is because of the built in DVD Decoder that is included.  This function enables the player to run DVD movies that contain CSS or the content scrambling system which is a copy protection code added to movies to prevent the unauthorized use of duplicating or copying.  All major (paid)  DVD Player Software including PowerDVD incorporate a DVD decoder within the software so playback is seamless. Without this crucial addition you can not playback DVD movies.  However software like Windows Media Player does not include a built in DVD decoder thus this free software does not playback DVD discs.  This is one of the best reasons to have VLC on your system. If you don’t use it as your main video/audio player, it’s good to have as a last resort just in case your regular player takes a dump.

VLC Interface

As you can see in the following screenshot the main user interface is pretty basic and straightforward.  The software does support interface skins by utilizing the skins2 interface. This is a nice addition because of the blandness of the main skin. But hey, it’s free and it works.

Here is a short video on how to stream video over a network by using VLC Media player:

Continue Reading >>> Drawbacks of using a Free DVD Player

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Digital Poet at BurnWorld Inc.

I am the Team Leader here at BurnWorld. I am an audio/video enthusiast and have been in this industry for over 10 years. I love testing DVD/Blu-Ray and Video software.

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  • Roger Farnham says:

    I have used VLC for some time and like enough that I have donated to the site. Works for everything I need it for.

  • stan says:

    Just a quick note. I’ve been recommending this software to my customers for a long time.
    In fact I sell a lot of off lease/refurbished equipment and this is the go to product when I’m loading the systems (along with another free product we may have heard of called Open Office).
    Best of all…it works without any dependancies (think codecs).

  • Owen Fouts says:

    I agree 100% That VLC is currently the best free DVD player software, its simple, very quick, and does more than most will ever do, Oh did I mention its FREE.

  • Guido says:

    Have also been recomending this software for years. Very simple and complete. It even works with my network TV box. You have reminded me, just how good this software is, and I am sending another donation!

  • Galaxyclass says:

    A friend started having problems with what he was using. I recommended this one and he’s been happy ever since. I had installed additional codec on my machine and I’m able to play everything (non Blu Ray) I’ve tried so far though Windows media. If that changes I’ll go with VLC too.

  • keith harris says:

    I totally agree that VLC is the most versatile and best free video player out there. In my opinion it is better than most commercial players. I use VLC about 95% of the time.

  • Colin says:

    I don’t know when this article was published.
    But Windows Media Player Version 12.0.7601.17514
    plays all my dvd’s.
    Never had a problem decoding dvd’s.
    Also running Windows 7 Ultimate.

  • Paul Toschi, New Zealand says:

    VLC doesn’t play downloaded .flv files (Flash Video). As far as I know, you need RealPlayer which takes forever to load. Get Koyote’s Video Converter – cheap enough – and convert to avi, wmv or just about anything else and play on Windows Media Player.

  • Jean Gagnon says:

    Un logiciel facile à utiliser pour convertir les dvd et un excellent lecteur DVD!

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