How can I view DVDs on my laptop?

Summary

Some courses at Clayton State make use of DVDs for instructional purposes. Many notebook computers do not come with the capability of watching DVDs when they ship. This functionality can be added to a notebook using free software. The only requisite is that you have a DVD drive, and not a CD-ROM drive. Most new notebooks ship with a DVD drive by default, so this is only a real concern if you have an older notebook. This article will cover determining if you have a DVD drive, and if so, setting it up to watch DVDs.

Methods

To verify what type of optical drive you have, inspect your drive cover for any printed information. This will be where you insert a CD or DVD ROM into the computer. If you see "DVD" then you have a DVD drive. If you see "CD ROM", then this may not be the case. You will have to upgrade the hardware on your computer to continue.

Now that you have verified that you have a DVD drive installed on your computer, lets check if it will play DVDs with existing software. To test this, insert a DVD into your drive, and wait for your computer to read the device. Windows XP machines will by default autoplay the device, or present you with a list of options to take when you insert media. If you see any programs that prompt you to "Play DVD", then choose this option first to see if this software is already loaded on your computer.

Downloading VLC Player:

If you are not able to view the DVD using the software that shipped with your machine, download a DVD player named "VLC player". This can be obtained by following the instructions below:
  1. Open a web browser such as Internet Explorer, type in the following in the address bar: "http://www.videolan.org/vlc/", and click the "Go" button.
  2. Under the "Download VLC" section, choose the Windows version, or adjust for your needs.
  3. Next, choose a close location for the download to initiate from. For example, choose "USA" if available.
  4. You will be prompted to download the file. Click on "Save" to begin the download.
  5. When the download is complete, continue to the next section.
Installing VLC Player:
  1. Click the "Open" button in Internet Explorer if you just downloaded the file, or double-click on the file in its download location to begin the setup.
  2. If Windows XP prompts you with a Security warning, click the "Run" button to continue.
  3. Choose "English" as the installation language and click "Ok" to continue as shown below.

  1. The setup wizard will begin for VLC media player, click "Next" to continue as shown below.

  1. Click "I agree" to continue.
  2. Choose "Recommended", or customize your installation preferences. Most importantly, make sure that the "Discs" playback is selected. Click "Next" to continue as shown below.

  1. Click "Install" to begin.
  2. Once the installation is complete, click "Finish" with the "Run VLC media player" option selected.
Playing DVDs with VLC Player:
  1. Upon first starting VLC Player, you will see a "Privacy and Networking Policies" screen. Click "Ok" to continue.
  2. From the main VLC Player screen, click on "Media", then "Open Disc".
  3. On the "Disc" tab, choose the "Disc device" that corresponds to your disc drive letter (typically "D:\" on notebooks) as shown below:

Troubleshooting

If you do not have autoplay turned on, or if no prompts appeared when you inserted the DVD ROM, then click on "Start", then "My Computer". You will see a list of devices that are available. Double-click on the "DVD Drive" to activate the Autoplay functionality.

If you double-clicked on the drive and no prompt appeared, but you see a list of files, continue reading in the section "VLC Player".

If you are not able to download VLC Player from the "USA" mirror, try another download mirror.

If you are not able to connect to the VLC Player website, please contact the HUB for further assistance.

If you are able to download and install VLC Player, but the DVD you are attempting to view is garbled, then your DVD is copyright protected and cannot be legally played back on your computer due to CSS restrictions.