Handbrake, VLC and 64 bit problems

Recently, the latest version of the DVD converter Handbrake (version 0.94) was released and it added so many great features, including a performance-boosting 64-bit version. Overall, it has been getting rave reviews from the Mac press and deservedly so. However, there is an unfortunate problem that makes ripping DVDs tricky: it requires a 64-bit version of VLC to be installed, and currently VLC is 32-bit only.

So, how do we get around this problem?
Firstly, let’s clarify why this problem arises. VLC contains libdvdcss, a CSS library that allows protected DVDs to be read. Handbrake, rather than containing its own version of libdvdcss requires you to have VLC installed instead. This is a great solution and allows Handbrake to avoid a few legal issues. The problem with this arrangement is that you need both applications to be compiled for the same CPU. 64-bit Handbrake requires a 64-bit VLC with a 64-bit libdvdcss inside, and the latest version of VLC, 1.0.3, is 32-bit only. Libdvdcss is also 32-bit only as can be seen here.

jearle@blackbook# file /Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib
/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib: Mach-O universal binary with 2 architectures
/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib (for architecture i386): Mach-O dynamically linked shared library i386
/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib (for architecture ppc7400): Mach-O dynamically linked shared library ppc

i386 means 32-bit, so we’re scuppered and Handbrake won’t work in 64-bit. However, there is another way. There is an application called Fairmount that mounts protected DVDs as unprotected disks and the latest version comes in 32- and 64-bit versions. It too uses VLC for libdvdcss, so you’ll need to run the 32-bit version of Fairmount to get it to work.


Launch the 32-bit version and it will mount the DVD and Handbrake will see it as an unprotected DVD and let you convert your disk to let you play it on whatever devices you want.


Gojira! I’ll be watching a 1954 nuclear experiment metaphor movie on my iPhone in no time flat.

Update: Yes, I am aware you could just grab the 64-bit 1.0.2 version of VLC, but it’s apparently buggy.

Jared Earle is a writer, photographer and systems administrator. You can find him on Twitter most of the time.

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  • Phil

    Why not just install 64bit VLC and the problem is solved. I am running 1.03 RC Golden 64 bit here.

  • Se7en

    “Update: Yes, I am aware you could just grab the 64-bit 1.0.2 version of VLC, but it’s apparently buggy.”

    Since I don’t use VLC except as the libdvdcss engine for Handbrake, will 1.0.2 be ok for Handbrake 64bit? (in other words, do the bugs in 1.0.2 VLC affect the decoding magic for Handbrake? )

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  • @Se7en, if all you’re after is just libdvdcss, I’m not aware of any problems with the version of supplied in 1.0.2 64-bit, so go grab it from the link I posted above.

    @Phil, If you’re happy running release candidates, that’s great. Using Fairmount is just a temporary workaround until Videolan release a proper, stable 64-bit version that you don’t need to run pre-release software for.

  • Se7en

    sweet, thanks Jared!

  • or you can just download a 64-bit nightly of VLC here http://nightlies.videolan.org

    Its been stable and it got the job done for me in Handbrake.

  • dcorban

    I think the fact that there are “nightly” builds of VLC proves there is no such thing as a “stable” version. Users should have no qualms about using an older version or a “release candidate” (I actually chuckled while I typed that).

  • Anonymous 167

    Or you could use a third party app like Ripit or MacTheRipper to rip the DVD to a VIDEO_TS folder and then use whatever bitness of HandBrake you like from there (since it will take those folders as inputs.)

  • The Grouch

    I’m very disappointed that 64bit Handbrake (and VLC for that matter) are Intel only. What about G5 support? I have an Intel Mac but, for most things – and especially video, I’d rather use my PowerMac (because my Intel Mac is a laptop).

  • Cecemf

    @ The Grouch
    Power PC is dead technologie for Apple now Intel only !
    They all ready gave it a good life with Leopard being compatible and it was a slow transition buying you time but let face it now you need an Intel Core 2 Duo minimum this days and for the futur too.

  • Th3 Gr0uc4

    I’m very disappointed that 64bit Handbrake (and VLC for that matter) are Intel only. What about Macintosh SE/30 support? I have an Intel Mac but, for most things – and especially video, I’d rather use my Macintosh SE/30 (because my Intel Mac is a laptop).

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  • Z

    Completely off topic, but ahh, Fairmount Bagels in Montreal. Tips hat to Metakine.

  • @The Grouch

    There’s little to no benefit from a 64-bit PowerPC binary other than larger addressing. Chances are it would probably be slower than the 32-bit binary.

  • Handbrake, VLC and 64 bit problems | The 23x blog http://rly.cc/d6lLj
    awkward but functional

  • Peter

    The link for Fairmount is dead. On their website, it links to their other product, DVDRemaster. Must be a link error on their site. I will stick with Mac the Ripper, then use Handbrake.

  • @Peter, Fairmount is supplied alongside DVDRemaster. Here’s the text from their FAQ: “The reason why DVDRemaster is downloaded when downloading Fairmount is that the latter is distributed with the DVDRemaster package.”

  • Cameron Palmer

    The DVDRemaster DMG has both DVDRemaster and Fairmount (Source and Binary) in it.

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  • @WTL I have a feeling it has something to do with this. (i.e. no stable 64-bit build, so they've hidden it maybe?) http://bit.ly/55yHmO

  • "HandBrake の 64bit 版を使うには、Fairmount の 32bit 版と VLC 1.0.3 を使えばよい。" http://blog.23x.net/200/handbrake-vlc-and-64-bit-problems.html

  • Krazyj

    Go buy your cheap ass a new mac

  • I just ripped five dvd’s using the current version of 64bit VLC and Handrake w/o a hiccup.

    • Ricky

      please tell me how you did that, i have home videos on vhs tapes, that i put onto dvd-r’s. and im trying to use handbrake but it gives me that VLC error on it. How did you do it?

    • Jennifer

      I keep trying to download the 64bit, but it keeps giving me the 32bit. Do you know why this would be?

  • Mit Fairmount lassen sich die Probleme mit Handbrake 64 bit und VLC 32 bit umgehen: http://bit.ly/7Kj3J2

  • AJB

    Works perfect.

  • fete

    oh my God.. so there’s no 32-bit of vlc.. darn.. i like it more to use handbrake…

  • Link: Handbrake, VLC and 64 bit problems – How to get 64-bit Handbrake working with Fairmount http://icio.us/lxv3tr

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  • Cecileva

    Thank you very much, works like a charm!

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  • Jessica


    I did everything you suggested, but when I insert my DVD, Fairmount does nothing. It doesn’t automatically mount the DVD, and I can’t seem to drag it into Fairmount either. Any suggestions?

    Thank you!

  • Handbrake, VLC and 64 bit problems | The 23x blog: Recently, the latest version of the DVD converter Handbrake (ve… http://bit.ly/aABbhS

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  • Thanks for pointing me to Fairmount. I was getting a slightly different issue which is that Handbrake 0.9.4 for PPC Mac kept saying it couldn’t find 32 bit VLC even though that is what I have installed. I’m on 10.5.8, and not sure if there’s some confusion because of that re: bits but anyway using Fairmount to mount the disk first got me past a frustrating loop of “Attempt to scan anyway” which just took me to the VLC download page.

  • spd90

    I keep getting an error window after downloading VLC 64bit saying it isn’t compatible with the Handbrake. I have tried a multiple of things but I keep getting this message, even though Handbrake is 64bit. What are my options?

    • Mike D

      I have this same problem spd90. But if I click “Scan Anyway”, it works. I think it’s because the libdvdcss now contains both the i386 and the x86_64 architectures. The “file” command doesn’t spit out the architecture for me, so I used lipo:

      $ lipo -info /Applications/AV/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib
      Architectures in the fat file: /Applications/AV/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/lib/libdvdcss.2.dylib are: x86_64 i386

      I also tried removing the i386 part of the fat file, however this didn’t get rid of the handbrake warning. (If you’re interested in trying it, use lipo -remove, with more detailed info here: http://www.theconsultant.net/2005/09/macosx-operating-on-fat-files/)

      • Mike D

        So the problem for me had nothing to do with the above. I had “VLC” in a subfolder of the /Applications folder (/Applications/AV to be precise), and it turns out that Handbrake couldn’t find it. All I had to do was move VLC back to the /Applications folder, and Handbrake stopped complaining.

        • JSB

          Thanks Mike !

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  • ian mcquillan

    Been havin probs with VLC dont no why,just started to skip thru vid? hav now spent Hrs tryin stuff to fix this prob from various blogs! none worked out, ended up just running VLC in compatability mode for XP service pack 3 and its working again.:) Hope this helps some one! dont no 4 sure but due to re -install of software due to hardware failure and change of machine, prob i think started after Nvidia desktop explorer came on update with win update. Maybe! Cos worked at first when windows was first re-loaded Etc… And yes it my fault why o why did i put the win 7 64 bit disk in the drive! Mp3 gain wudnt work either! Thats fixed now:)

    Regards E

  • any problem to downloaded Handbrake??

    I have not any problem when i download Handbrake and as far as the version of VLC media is concern then it doesn’t matter upgrade your vlc media player and just boooooooooom.

  • Chelsea McKinzie

    I downloaded handbrake and the libdvdcss.dll file and at the bottom it says “ready” but when I go in and click on “source” and select my dvd drive, nothing happens. it stays on “ready.” I can’t figure out what is going on and why it is not working. please help me. I have windws 8