Play NTSC dvds?

I’m based in Europe but I want to play some dvds that were bought in the US with my external Apple DVD drive hooked up to my MacBook Air.

Does anyone know if this is this possible before I purchase them?

Yes, I’ve done it. I think you might only get so many times to switch the drive region though.


Yeah I was actually interested in not having to switch. So I was wondering if anyone had tried doing it with VLC or another media player with switching

Using Apple hardware and OS? Not possible beyond the limited number of switches (I think 4) that they allow.

Using a third party drive and third party software it is do-able. It has been a long time since I have needed to solve this problem so I am not aware of “what works” currently, but my first three choices to try would be:

  1. VLC. I’m fairly sure this has the chops to deal with the drive region. At least it used to.
  2. Handbrake. It’s not a player, but if you want to play the content often, “ripping” to a file you can simply play anywhere is a good option. I ripped my entire movie collection (and, ugh, some TV show boxed sets) and they now sit in a Plex library. A significant number of them were purchased online and thus “out of region”.
  3. MakeMKV. Like Handbrake, not a viewer but a ripper. This is one I have used more recently where I’ve bought a “classic” movie or TV box set cheaply in local sales. As such I have not used it on out-of-region discs. This will also do BluRay discs.

Usual caveats about only using on discs you own etc.


The easiest thing if you want to continue switching between regions is probably to throw money at the problem. External DVD drives are fairly inexpensive these days, so you can buy one and only use it for region 1 (or 2 or whatever it is) and then use your current drive for the other region you watch.

Also concur on ripping the DVDs and putting them in a library. Very civilized. Just have to go through the pain of finding and installing the I forget what it was called hack that lets you rip DVDs.

(This takes me back to back in the day when you had to find the DVD players where the manufacturers had built in region hacks so you could make them region free. Now that was some quality forum fishing to find instructions!)

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I remember doing that after we had returned from a couple of months in Canada, where we had bought Region 1 DVDs and wanted to be able to play them at home, in Region 4. I found models on sale, researched them for the esoteric ‘magic’ required to do the task, then bought the one I settled on. I got it home, opened the box, and there right on top, was a piece of paper with the instructions! (I think NZ law was a lot more lax about the concept.)

The external DVD writer/BluRay reader I bought however many years ago from OWC is capable of handling any region, so maybe it’s less of an issue these days as long as you don’t buy from Apple. (With the caveat that, as mentioned, I’ve not had cause to read an out-of-region DVD in years.)

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