How to Play Blu-rays with VLC & Fix VLC Blu-ray Playback Errors

Edwin Parker
By Edwin Parker 17 Min Read
17 Min Read

VLC Media Player is renowned for its impressive capability to play almost anything thrown at it. From local files to streams, webcams, and devices, VLC handles them all effortlessly, requiring no additional codec packs. Starting with version 2.0, VLC made headlines by announcing support for Blu-ray media playback, a feature eagerly anticipated by many.

Despite its versatility, VLC users often encounter hurdles when attempting to play Blu-ray discs. Questions like “Why doesn’t VLC play my Blu-ray?”, “Can VLC play Blu-ray on Windows 10?”, or “How to play Blu-ray on VLC Mac?” are common. Users also frequently encounter the puzzling “Blu-ray AACS decoding” error. With so much information scattered across the internet, finding a comprehensive and trustworthy guide can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve crafted this user-friendly VLC tutorial, aiming to resolve your Blu-ray playback challenges with ease.

VLC can seamlessly play homemade, burned, and unprotected Blu-ray discs. However, when it comes to commercial Blu-rays, which are often safeguarded by DRM (Digital Rights Management) technologies like AACS and BD+, VLC needs extra help. To decrypt and play these protected Blu-rays, VLC requires specific decryption key databases and the AACS dynamic library. Without these, VLC is unable to access the encrypted content, leading to the frustrating error message: “This Blu-ray disc needs a library for AACS decoding.”

In the upcoming sections, we’ve outlined the necessary steps to empower you to play encrypted Blu-ray discs using VLC on both Windows and Mac platforms. It’s important to remember that an external Blu-ray drive is essential for playing Blu-rays on a computer.

Ready to unlock the full potential of VLC for your Blu-ray collection? Follow along as we guide you through each step, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable Blu-ray viewing experience on your computer. Let’s get started!

How to Play Blu-rays with VLC on Windows 10/11

Embarking on your journey to play Blu-rays using VLC on your Windows 10 or 11 system? Here’s a straightforward, step-by-step guide to make the process as smooth as possible.

Step 1: Installing the Latest VLC Version

  • Downloading VLC: Head over to videolan.org, the official VLC website. Download and install the latest version of VLC suitable for your Windows 10/11 system.
  • Upgrade to VLC 3.0 or Higher: If you’re using an older version of VLC, it’s crucial to upgrade to at least VLC 3.0. This version is better equipped for Blu-ray playback.
  • 64-bit Considerations: For those using a 64-bit Windows computer, ensure you download the 64-bit version of VLC to match your system’s architecture.

Step 2: Downloading the Necessary Files

  • Acquiring Key Files: Visit this link to download two crucial files: the KEYS DATABASE (KEYDB.cfg) and the AACS DYNAMIC LIBRARY (libaacs.dll for Windows, libaacs.dylib for Mac).

Step 3: Proper File Placement and Starting Playback

  • AACS Dynamic Library Variants: Note that there are two variants of the AACS dynamic library for Windows – one for 32-bit VLC and another for 64-bit VLC. Ensure you download the version corresponding to your VLC’s architecture.
    1. Creating the ‘aacs’ Folder: Navigate to “C:ProgramData” on your computer. Create a new folder and name it “aacs”. Then, place your downloaded “KEYDB.cfg” file inside this folder.
    2. Placing the Dynamic Library File: Go to your VLC installation directory, typically “C:Program FilesVideoLANVLC” (or “C:Program Files (x86)” for 64-bit VLC). Drop the “libaacs.dll” file here.
    3. Launching VLC for Blu-ray Playback: Once everything is in place, open VLC. Click on “Media” > “Open Disc” > “Blu-ray” to start enjoying your Blu-ray content.
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You’re all set! With these steps, you’re now equipped to enjoy Blu-ray movies on your Windows computer using VLC. Enjoy your viewing experience!

How to Play Blu-rays with VLC on Mac

If you’re a Mac user looking to enjoy Blu-ray movies using VLC, you’re in luck! The process is quite similar to that on Windows. Here’s a comprehensive guide to get you started.

Step 1: Installing VLC for Mac

  • Getting VLC: First things first, download and install the latest VLC version for Mac OS X from Videolan.org. It’s important to have the most recent version to ensure compatibility with Blu-ray playback.

Step 2: Downloading Essential Files

  • Navigating to the Right Site: Head over to this link to download two key files necessary for Blu-ray decryption.◉ KEYS Database for Mac OS: Download the “KEYDB.cfg” file. You’ll need to place this file in ~/Library/Preferences/aacs/. If this folder doesn’t exist, you’ll have to create it.

    AACS Dynamic Library for Mac OS: Download the “libaacs.dylib” file. Right-click on your VLC application, select “Show Package Contents”, and navigate to “Contents/MacOS/lib/”. If this folder is not present, you’ll need to create it and place the downloaded file here.

Step 3: Playing the Blu-ray Disc

  • Initiating Playback: With VLC installed and the necessary files in place, it’s time to put your Blu-ray disc into your Mac’s Blu-ray drive. Open VLC, navigate to the disc, and your encrypted Blu-ray movie should start playing.

Additional Tip

  • Manual Title Selection: It’s important to note that VLC currently does not support Blu-ray menus. This means you might need to manually select the title you wish to play. Also, bear in mind that not all Blu-ray movies may be supported by VLC.

What to do When VLC Won’t Play Blu-ray?

Experiencing issues when trying to play Blu-ray discs on VLC, even after following all the setup steps? You’re not alone. Here’s a guide to troubleshoot some common errors that may arise during Blu-ray playback in VLC.

Common VLC Blu-ray Playback Errors and Solutions

  1. Library for BD+ or AACS Decoding Not Found
    • Problem: Errors like “This Blu-ray disc needs a library for bd+ decoding, and your system does not have it” or “This Blu-ray disc needs a library for aacs decoding, and your system does not have it” are common.
    • Solution: Ensure you have the correct AACS and BD+ libraries installed. Revisit the steps for downloading and placing the KEYDB.cfg and libaacs.dylib (Mac) or libaacs.dll (Windows) files. Sometimes, updating these files can resolve the issue, as they are frequently updated to handle new encryption keys.
  2. Issues with the AACS Config File
    • Problem: Messages like “No valid processing key found in AACS config file” or “Missing AACS configuration file!” indicate problems with the AACS configuration.
    • Solution: Double-check the location where you’ve placed your KEYDB.cfg file. It must be in the correct directory as per your operating system. If the file is in the right place, consider downloading a newer version of the KEYDB.cfg file, as the keys for new Blu-ray discs are updated regularly.
  3. Input Can’t Be Opened
    • Problem: If you see “Your input can’t be opened,” it might be due to a variety of issues ranging from disc compatibility to system permissions.
    • Solution: Try playing a different Blu-ray disc to rule out disc-specific problems. Additionally, run VLC as an administrator or check your system’s permissions to ensure VLC has the necessary access.
  4. Blu-ray Loading Issues
    • Problem: A situation where VLC keeps loading a Blu-ray disc but nothing happens can be frustrating.
    • Solution: This might be due to a lack of necessary codecs or an outdated VLC version. Make sure you have the latest version of VLC. If the issue persists, try reinstalling VLC and going through the setup process again.
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General Tips for Enhanced Troubleshooting

  • Update VLC: Always use the latest version of VLC, as updates often include fixes for common bugs and compatibility issues.
  • Check Disc Integrity: Sometimes, the problem might be with the Blu-ray disc itself. Ensure the disc is clean and free from scratches.
  • Explore Alternative Solutions: If VLC consistently fails to play certain Blu-ray discs, consider using alternative Blu-ray playback software that might have better compatibility with your specific disc.

Why VLC Failed to Play Your Blu-ray Disc?

Encountering issues while trying to play a commercial Blu-ray disc on VLC? You’re not alone. Let’s explore why VLC sometimes struggles with Blu-ray playback and what’s behind these challenges.

The Core of the Problem: Limited Support and DRM Issues

  1. Limited Support for Commercial Blu-rays:
    • The Reality of AACS Keys: VLC is only equipped to handle Blu-ray discs for which it has the corresponding AACS keys. However, the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) and BD+ DRM (Digital Rights Management) libraries, along with the necessary keys, do not come packaged with Blu-ray discs. This limitation is because publishers often view consumers as potential pirates, despite their legitimate purchases for personal enjoyment.
  2. Copy Protection and Regional Settings:
    • Diverse Copy Protection Schemes: Aside from AACS, there are various other forms of Blu-ray copy protection, such as BD+, Cinavia, and MKB (Media Key Block). These protections are complex and challenging to bypass, even with a key database and the AACS dynamic library installed.
    • Region Codes: Blu-rays often come with region codes, which restrict where they can be played. These regional settings add another layer of complexity to the playback.
  3. Physical Disc Condition:
    • Unresponsiveness with Damaged Discs: If a Blu-ray disc is damaged or scratched, VLC might fail to read and play it. The physical condition of the disc plays a crucial role in successful playback.

Navigating the Challenges

  • Limited Key Access: Since VLC doesn’t have access to all the necessary keys for every commercial Blu-ray disc, it’s unable to decrypt and play some discs.
  • DRM Complexity: The DRM technologies employed by Blu-ray discs are continually evolving and becoming more sophisticated, making it difficult for open-source players like VLC to keep up.
  • Physical Limitations: No software can overcome issues related to the physical damage of a disc. In such cases, the disc itself needs to be repaired or replaced.

What Can You Do?

  • Keep VLC Updated: Regularly update VLC to ensure you have the latest AACS keys available.
  • Consider Alternatives: If VLC consistently fails with certain discs, you might need to explore alternative Blu-ray playback software specifically designed to handle a wider range of DRM systems.
  • Maintain Discs: Handle your Blu-ray discs carefully to avoid scratches and damage.

How to Fix VLC Won’t Play Blu-ray – Try Another Blu-ray Player

Encountering difficulties with VLC not playing your Blu-ray discs? Don’t worry, there are effective alternatives and solutions to ensure you still enjoy your favorite movies.

Exploring Other Media Players

  1. Other Free Blu-ray Players:

The Mobile Device Dilemma

  1. Playing Blu-rays on Mobile Devices:
    • If you’re looking to watch Blu-ray movies on mobile devices like iPads, iPhones, or Android smartphones and tablets, direct playback can be challenging due to format and protection issues.

The Ultimate Solution: Ripping Blu-rays

  1. Ripping Blu-ray to Digital Format:
    • When all else fails, converting your Blu-ray to a digital format VLC can accept becomes a viable solution. This method bypasses protection issues and also makes your content more versatile for different devices.
    • Ripping Blu-ray discs not only solves the playback problem but also helps protect your physical Blu-ray collection from scratches or damage.

Managing Your Digital Collection

  1. Benefits of Digital Formats:
    • Ripping your Blu-rays into digital files allows for easier management and storage of your movie collection.
    • Digital files are more durable and convenient, eliminating the worry about physical disc damage.
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Conclusion: Mastering Blu-ray Playback Across Devices

Throughout this comprehensive guide, we’ve navigated the intricacies of playing Blu-ray discs using VLC Media Player on both Windows and Mac systems, delved into troubleshooting common playback issues, and explored why VLC might sometimes struggle with commercial Blu-ray discs. Moreover, we’ve considered practical alternatives and solutions for when VLC doesn’t meet your Blu-ray playback needs.

  1. VLC as a Versatile Tool: VLC stands out for its ability to play a vast range of media formats. Its extension to Blu-ray playback from version 2.0 onwards has added significant value for users looking to leverage this free, open-source media player for high-definition content.
  2. Overcoming Playback Challenges: While VLC offers a straightforward approach to play unprotected Blu-rays, challenges arise with commercial discs due to DRM protections like AACS and BD+. We’ve outlined steps to install necessary files and libraries to tackle these issues.
  3. Troubleshooting Common Errors: Addressing common errors such as the absence of libraries for BD+ or AACS decoding, and issues with the AACS config file, is crucial for uninterrupted Blu-ray enjoyment.
  4. Understanding Limitations: Recognizing VLC’s limitations in handling diverse DRM systems and physical disc conditions helps set realistic expectations.
  5. Exploring Alternatives: When VLC falls short, considering other free Blu-ray players or converting Blu-rays into digital formats emerges as an efficient solution. This not only ensures compatibility across various devices but also preserves the physical discs from damage.

In essence, while VLC provides a solid foundation for Blu-ray playback, understanding its limitations, exploring alternative players, and considering digital conversion are key to a seamless and enjoyable viewing experience. Whether you’re a Windows or Mac user, or looking to enjoy your movies on the go, this guide aims to equip you with the knowledge and tools to enjoy your Blu-ray collection to the fullest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn't VLC play my Blu-ray disc?

VLC may not play your Blu-ray disc due to the presence of DRM (Digital Rights Management) technologies like AACS and BD+ that protect commercial Blu-rays. VLC requires specific decryption key databases and the AACS dynamic library to decrypt and play these protected Blu-rays.

Can VLC play Blu-ray on Windows 10/11?

Yes, VLC can play Blu-ray on Windows 10/11. Users need to download and install the latest version of VLC, acquire the necessary KEYS DATABASE and AACS DYNAMIC LIBRARY files, and place them in the specified directories on their system.

How can I play Blu-ray on VLC for Mac?

To play Blu-ray on VLC for Mac, you must install the latest version of VLC, download the KEYS DATABASE and AACS DYNAMIC LIBRARY for Mac, and place these files in the ~/Library/Preferences/aacs/ directory and the VLC application's Contents/MacOS/lib/ directory, respectively.

What should I do if I get a "Blu-ray AACS decoding" error in VLC?

If you encounter a "Blu-ray AACS decoding" error, ensure you have correctly installed the KEYS DATABASE and AACS DYNAMIC LIBRARY files. Sometimes, updating these files to the latest version can resolve the issue since they are frequently updated to handle new encryption keys.

Why is VLC unable to play some commercial Blu-ray discs?

VLC struggles with some commercial Blu-ray discs due to limited support and DRM issues. VLC only has access to AACS keys for certain discs, and the continually evolving and sophisticated DRM technologies employed by Blu-ray discs make it difficult for VLC to keep up.

What are some alternatives if VLC can't play my Blu-ray disc?

If VLC can't play your Blu-ray disc, consider using other free Blu-ray player software that might have broader support for different Blu-ray encryptions. Alternatively, ripping the Blu-ray to a digital format VLC can accept becomes a viable solution, bypassing protection issues and making your content more versatile for different devices.
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