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How to Play DVDs in Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Playing DVDs requires hardware; fortunately, virtually all Macs with Snow Leopard come equipped with the stuff that’s necessary to watch DVDs. To play DVD movies, you need either an internal DVD-compatible drive in your Macintosh or an external DVD drive with a FireWire or USB 2.0 connection. DVD-ROM drives can only play discs, whereas others, such as the SuperDrive, can both play and record discs. Either type of drive works fine for watching movies on your Mac.

Apple’s DVD Player application is included with Mac OS X; you can find it within the confines of your Applications folder. But you can simply insert a DVD into the DVD drive. Mac recognizes the disc and launches DVD Player for you

DVD Player offers two windows:

  • Controller: The small, silver-colored, remote control–like interface that holds all the controls for the Player

    Playback controls appear on the Controller.
    Playback controls appear on the Controller.
  • Viewer: The large window where you view your DVD movies

    The Viewer is the real star of Snow Leopard's DVD Player
    The Viewer is the real star of Snow Leopard's DVD Player

In Full-Screen mode, you won’t see the Viewer window. The video takes up the entire screen. The controller appears as a floating opaque strip of controls along the bottom of the screen. To display the controls, move your mouse cursor to the bottom of the screen. Move the cursor to the top of the screen and you can switch chapters and jump to bookmarks.

If you’re already using a traditional DVD player, you’ll be right at home with Apple’s DVD Player. Even if you’ve never used a traditional DVD player, you’ll find that it’s not much different from using a software-based audio player such as iTunes.

You can think of the Viewer window as a television inside your Macintosh, if it helps, but DVD Player goes one step further. Unlike a television screen, the Viewer has some nice tricks up its sleeve: For example, you can resize the Viewer window by using one of the four sizes listed in the View menu (Half, Actual Size, Double Size, Fit to Screen, and Full-Screen sizes). This is useful for watching a movie in a small window on your Desktop while you work with other applications. You can toggle your Viewer size from the keyboard; for example, select Half Size with Command+0 (zero), Actual Size with Command+1, and Double Size with Command+2.

If you’re only in it for the entertainment factor, you’ll probably want to resize the Viewer to fill the screen. If you want to take full advantage of all your screen space yet leave the Viewer window on-screen for occasional resizing, choose Fit to Screen mode with Command+3.

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