I'm running Windows 7.

I have a collection of DVDs that I'm trying rip to my PC so I can finally bin the physical discs and free up some space. Most of the attraction of these DVDs for me is the interactive home movie experience: navigating through the menus to access the special features. Therefore, I have two aims for ripping these DVDs:

  1. To create ISOs that I don't need to expressly mount (i.e. that can be immediately played in a media player like MPC-HC OR VLC)

  2. For these ISOs to be an exact copy of the DVD sources so that, when played, all special features and the menus to access them behave exactly as they would if the ISO was mounted

As far as I've been able to tell, the gold standard application for what I'm trying to do here is DVDFab HD Decrypter (the free version of DVDFab).

Running DVDFab HD Decrypter in Full Disc mode outputs an ISO that plays in both VLC and MPC-HC without mounting it, which satisfies my first goal. The problem I'm having is in satisfying the second.

Making menus in an ISO work as if mounted (i.e. normally)

The goal: when the ISO is mounted

So far, only expressly mounting and then playing the ISO has been analogous to the experience of playing from the physical disc. When the ISO is mounted, AutoPlay prompts me to play the DVD with Windows Media Player, and Windows Media Player displays all menus and menu items.

enter image description here

Unmounted, in VLC

By contrast, when using VLC to play the disc without mounting it, I can only see one menu button at a time, and rolling the mouse over where the buttons should be makes others visible.

enter image description here

Unmounted, in MPC-HC and Windows Media Player

MPC-HC fares even worse, as it doesn't show any menu items at all, nor does it even recognise the movie as having other titles - instead, it plays the test ISO as a linear DVD from beginning to end, including the menu screen and all titles. When playing the ISO via Windows Media Player on its own (i.e. without mounting it and allowing AutoPlay to open WMP), it behaves in the same way.

enter image description here

How can I create an ISO rip of a DVD that keeps all menus functioning without needing the ISO to be mounted?

What exactly about the unmounted ISO is different to the mounted one that is causing MPC-HC, VLC and Windows Media Player to fail to render its DVD menus correctly?


I created and tested with another ISO rip of another DVD. On this one, VLC successfully renders all menus, and MPC-HC and Windows Media Player once again are only able to play a completely menu-less, linear DVD. So far, VLC is looking like the only thing that is close to capable of what I'm trying to do here, though as the first test ISO indicates, it still has problems that need to be solved.

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    No way to do what you want that I know of. – Moab Jun 19 '18 at 16:28
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    I believe ISO is your only option.The computer and application has to think it is a "real" DVD and treat it as such. MKV and MP4 are video formats and do not contain the ability to handle program elements such as menus. A quick google search indicates this is indeed the case: google.com/search?q=dvd+menus+in+mkv – music2myear Jun 19 '18 at 16:28
  • It would be great if the people downvoting this question could explain what exactly makes it a bad question other than that they don't know of an answer to it. – Hashim Jun 19 '18 at 16:42
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    If such information existed it would be most readily found in the MKV communities. As it is not to be found there, we can assume it does not yet exist. – music2myear Jun 19 '18 at 16:47
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    Your question has two questions, doesn't indicate that you've searched the internet, and doesn't include relevant and required information (that you are running Windows 7, that we know of). This means it requires us to make a LOT of assumptions to get you an answer, and makes it highly probable that such an answer will not be accurate to your needs. These are reasons I can see why your question may have been downvoted. – music2myear Jun 19 '18 at 16:48

MKV and MP4 are video formats. Certain assumptions are made about videos: they are linear and the possible interactions are known and finite: play, pause, skip, repeat, scrub, fast, slow, etc.

Menus require additional possible interaction scenarios and require application-like capabilities that lie outside the ability of video containers.

If you wish to retain the entire "DVD experience" you must capture the DVD in a way that preserves its "DVD-ness", which is mostly a function of convincing the computer and application you use to play it that it IS a DVD.

This means ISO or another appropriate disk image format.

Further, ISOs are disk images, and therefore the primary method of interacting with them is by mounting them so that their contents may be interacted with. While individual applications may be capable of interacting with ISOs directly, that is only because those applications contain the drivers necessary for opening the ISO, essentially mounting it itself. Recent Windows versions allow for native ISO mounting too. Unless you require the special features of Daemon Tools other ISO mounting applications, the native mounting capabilities of the OS should be sufficient.

  • Thanks for the prompt answer. I feared that would be the case with regards to the file needing to be an ISO. Onto a follow-up question that I've already hinted at - is there any way to play the resulting ISOs without needing to go through the rigmarole of mounting them? – Hashim Jun 19 '18 at 16:41
  • As for "native ISO mounting", this is only true from Windows 8 onwards - Windows 7 still requires a third-party tool as far as I'm aware: howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/…. – Hashim Jun 19 '18 at 16:42
  • You didn't say what OS you were on, so "up to date" was a fair assumption. – Tetsujin Jun 19 '18 at 16:44
  • @Tetsujin I never said it wasn't. – Hashim Jun 19 '18 at 16:45
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    VLC can open ISO files, I believe. Also, that's why I said "recent Windows versions". You may prefer 7 but you cannot call that a "recent" Windows version by any stretch. It's 2 versions ago and is nearly 10 years old. Even Windows 8 is nearly 6 years old. – music2myear Jun 19 '18 at 16:45

There is a tool for Windows (tested in Windows 10) called InfraRecorder that will do the trick.

Linux has a built in tool called dd (which doesn't seem to care whether or not the target is a USB stick or a CD; but don't try writing a an ISO to a disc using it, but reading discs works fine with it) that will also do the trick (execute as administrator):

dd if=/dev/sr0 of=~/yourdisc.iso

I've never tested any of these with actual DVD player-compatible discs (aka a movie disc), hopefully one of them works in your situation :)

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    I'm running Cygwin on top of Windows 7, and did try using dd to copy a bit-by-bit image of the source DVD but it immediately failed on a read error, and I made a decision then that it would probably turn out to be less work to just find a dedicated program. I'll check out InfraRecorder. – Hashim Jun 19 '18 at 19:04
  • Dang Windows.... dd worked on a standalone Debian system! – Shadowcoder Jun 19 '18 at 19:15
  • I just tried InfraRecorder. It seems a very basic image/disc burning program, I can't see it doing better than DVD Decrypter. Have you used this program to do what I'm trying to do here before? – Hashim Jun 19 '18 at 19:23
  • I've used it only once; to read a Resource CD. Worked perfectly. – Shadowcoder Jun 19 '18 at 19:34
  • Try it, see if InfraRecorder works. As the saying; don't judge a book by its cover – Shadowcoder Jun 19 '18 at 19:35

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