RipIt is an easy-to-use DVD ripping tool for Macs. It rips DVDs onto your hard drive (whether internal or external) into a format that can be read by the DVD player app just like any other DVD, which means it preserves the whole DVD structure, including menus, chapters, and bonus material. (I’ve yet to try it out for Easter Eggs, though.) At only $18.99 it’s an absolute bargain.
When I first embarked on The Great DVD Project (making hard drive backups of the family’s DVD collection and converting them to Apple TV format), I used the setup you’ll see mentioned in a lot of blogs: Mac The Ripper (MTR) to rip the DVD to hard disk then Handbrake to convert MTR’s output into Apple TV format.
This served me adequately for a while, although I found MTR’s interface somewhat inscrutable at times, until I came across a few DVDs with copy protection that couldn’t be read by MTR. Without wishing to get into a debate about copy protection’s rights and wrongs, I spent a fruitless few hours on various sites and a scary-looking MTR forum, but nothing I tried could get MTR to work on these DVDs.
That’s when I stumbled across RipIt. It’s a simple app to use – once installed, you insert the DVD, ask RipIt to do its stuff, and you end up with a DVD image that can be played just like any other DVD. RipIt will even look up the DVD’s name in an online catalogue for you so you end up with a filename that’s vaguely intelligible (results are variable, though).
I’ve currently got RipIt set up to rip DVDs automatically once they’re inserted into the Mac Mini, and then spit the DVDs out once the ripping process is over. This has sped up my DVD backup process enormously, as I can pretty much just chuck DVDs through without even having to look at the Mac Mini display. If I could have just one extra feature added to RipIt, it would be for it to continue the workflow and do the job that Handbrake does – i.e. convert the DVD into another format, e.g. iPhone, iPod, Apple TV – so that I could just stick the DVD into the drive and get a full backup + other format, ideally automatically added to my iTunes library like EyeTV does, without having to open up any other applications or click more buttons.
I’ve seen some debates on blogs where people have been questioning the fact that you have to pay for RipIt and banging on about how you can rip DVDs for free with things like MTR, but I think RipIt is well worth the money. Even if you accept you could do the same thing with free software (which I dispute, given my own experience with some DVDs), the free alternatives aren’t as polished and you spend a lot of time messing around with settings. Well, I bought a Mac so I wouldn’t have to do things like that.
I want something that just works and RipIt does just that. RipIt has saved me an enormous amount of time and is a great example of an app that does one thing and does it bloody well. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to rip DVDs.