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ALAN ZISMAN ON TECHNOLOGY

Want to play DVD videos in Windows 10? There's an app for that   
 
By Alan Zisman      2019-09-19



Windows 7 included an app named Windows Media Centre. It played video DVDs - along with other media functions - just fine. Along the way to Windows 10, though, it got dropped with the result that many people with Windows 10 on their computers insert a video disc into their DVD drive and are surprised to find it doesn't work as expected.

I suppose the thinking is that most people are getting their video content from on-line streaming services like Netflix or from YouTube. Nevertheless, lots of use still want to watch a movie from a disc on our computers now and then.

(Many laptops no longer come with built-in DVD drives, especially small and compact 'ultra-book' models. I plug an external USB DVD drive (about $40 at Staples) into my Windows laptop).

Some people may find that DVDs play just fine - some manufactures routinely include a third-party media player on their models. And if you've upgraded your computer from a copy of Windows 7 or 8 that included Windows Media Centre, you'll see a new Windows DVD Player app installed.

If you don't have the Windows DVD Player app in your installation of Windows 10, Micrsoft is happy to sell you a copy for US$15 from the Windows Store - that suitcase icon on the bottom taskbar. It's bare-bones but it works. At least a lot of the time. (Note - it doesn't play Blu-Ray discs).

There's a better - and free - solution, however. My recommendation: go directly to VideoLAN's  free VLC Media Player. Note however, that there's a Windows Store version which doesn't play DVD or Blu-Ray discs. Don't get that one. Instead, download and install the 'classic Windows' version from VideoLAN's website.

VLC Media Player plays a huge variety of media file types and discs - audio and video. It can save streaming music and movies, and convert between file types. As a result, it has a lot of options and can look confusing. Here's how to make it work quickly and easily when you insert a movie on disc.

(Note though - even though VLC Media Player supports Blu-Ray discs, you'll need to have a compatible drive for your computer. My Staples external DVD drive, for instance, works with DVD videos just fine, but can't read Blu-Ray discs).

I'm assuming you've already downloaded VLC Media Player and run its Setup program, installing it onto your computer. In that case, you should have an icon on your Desktop - it looks like an orange and white-striped traffic cone. And if you check your Start Menu and scroll down the programs list, you should see a folder named VideoLan - with an icon for VLC Media Player. You can use either of those icons to start VLC. But you may not have to!

Choose what happens!When you insert a movie disc, after a moment or two allowing the computer to figure out what you've just done, you may see the message on the right pop up on the lower-right of your computer screen. It only displays for a brief time. It says "Select to choose what happens with enhanced DVD movies". Try and click on it before it disappears!

If it disappears before you're able to click on it, you can eject your video disc, reinsert it into the drive and try again. If you manage to click on the message in time, you'll see a list of programs (applications/apps) that your computer thinks can do something with that newly-inserted disc. Here's what it looked like on my Windows 10 laptop:

Select what to do with the DVD discOn my computer, it's suggesting that the disc can run in something called 'dvd-rom.exe' - if I choose that, it opens up the movie in that bare-bones Windows DVD Player. But it gives other choices.

(Note that the list of options may be different on your computer, depending on what apps are installed).

Among other choices, it suggests that we might use VLC Media Player - which is in fact what we're going to do.

It also proposes that you might want to go to the Windows Store and find something else. No thanks.

Alternatively, you might want to use the Windows File Explorer to look at the files on the disc. In some cases, that might be what you want. For example, maybe you inserted a disc filled with photos and you want to copy some of them to your Pictures folder.

A final choice is to do nothing. Hmmm.

We want to play the DVD movie in VideoLAN VLC Media Player - so clicking that option ought to do the trick. And, in fact, it does!

But if you haven't clicked on that initial pop-up message before it disappeared, you can still get the same results. Assuming you've installed VLC Media Player and inserted your video disc, open up VLC by either double-clicking the Desktop icon or opening the Start Menu, scrolling down to the VideoLAN folder, clicking to open it and (finally) clicking (once) on the VLC Media Player icon.

Alternatively, beside the Start Menu button, there's a search icon.... you could type 'VLC' into the search field and let it find the icon for you. (Don't you just love how Windows gives you 3 or more ways to do the same thing?)

VLC Media menu
Once you've got VLC open, click on the Media menu - the first choice on the menu bar. It will drop down a set of options - pick Open Disc...
That will open a dialogue box that - without you having to do anything should be already pointing at the disc that you inserted in your drive. It's smart enough to know what type of disc is inserted - standard DVD, Blu-Ray (assuming you've got a compatible drive), audio-CD, or a format rarely found in North America of VCD (low-quality video on a CD disc).

If your disc has multiple language audio tracks or subtitle tracks, you could choose them here - or fiddle with the menus to choose these things after the disc has started up.

In most cases, you shouldn't have to fuss with any of the options here - just click the Play button in the lower-right, and away you go.

Your movie should start to play.

What could be easier?
VLC Open Media dialogue box
If you want to explore more of VLC Media' Player's powerful features, take a look at: How to master VLC, the ultimate Windows media player for power users



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About This Blog...

I've been writing about computers, software, Internet and the rest of technology since 1992, including a 17 year (1995-2012) stint as 'High Tech Office' columnist for Business in Vancouver. This blog includes thoughts on technology, society, and anything else that might interest me. Comments, emailed to alan@zisman.ca are welcome - and may be published in whole or part. You can follow me on Twitter or Google + for notice of new blog postings.
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