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How Do I Play a DVD on My Laptop?

Updated March 23, 2017

If you have your laptop and a DVD, you have a ready source of entertainment within arm's reach. Computer screens have very high resolution displays, and many laptops have screens measuring 17 inches or larger, which makes watching movies a pleasure. However, your computer must also have the proper hardware and software installed to make watching movies possible.

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For both Macs and PCs, there are hardware and software requirements for playing DVDs on a laptop. The hardware requirement is a DVD-ROM drive or a dual CD/DVD drive. Most newer laptops will have at least a CD read/write drive that also has the capacity to read DVDs. Some dual CD/DVD drives will also allow users to burn DVDs as well as CDs. Whatever the configuration, the drive capabilities must include DVD playback.


The computer must also have a software program installed that allows DVD playback. There are a number of third-party software programs available for DVD playback on a PC or a Mac. Once the software is installed, insert the DVD into the appropriate drive.

Playing a DVD

For PCs, the computer may have an Autoplay function that starts as soon as the computer recognises that the DVD has been inserted. If not, right-click on the "My Computer" icon, which should open a window where the DVD will be shown as a device with removable storage. Single click on the icon, and double click on "Autoplay" to launch the DVD player program.

For Windows PCs, it is also possible to playback DVDs through Windows Media if a supported DVD decoder is installed in the computer. You can watch the movie by opening Windows Media and pressing the "Play" function. You can watch the movie inside the Windows Media skin or activate the full screen option.

Playing a DVD on a Mac requires knowing the Region Code for the DVD. Region codes vary geographically; the United States is Region 1, while the United Kingdom is Region 2. If you attempt to play a DVD from a different Region Code, the settings will change to the new Region Code. However, after five changes, the Region Code becomes locked and the player will not play DVDs from any other region.

For newer Macs, press the "Drive Open" key to open the drawer, then insert the DVD. For older Macs, slide the DVD into the appropriate slot. If the hardware is properly configured and the software is properly installed, then the DVD should begin to play automatically. Press the "Show Controller" to keep the remote controller on the desktop. That will allow you to adjust the sound and other controls on the DVD player.

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About the Author

Chris Blank is an independent writer and research consultant with more than 20 years' experience. Blank specializes in social policy analysis, current events, popular culture and travel. His work has appeared both online and in print publications. He holds a Master of Arts in sociology and a Juris Doctor.

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