How to copy a CD to PC

9 min read


By tidying up your room, you found some old music CDs with some interesting songs. Now, however, you hardly listen to music with the stereo player anymore and, therefore, you would like to transform that disk into a series of MP3 files that you can play on your PC, mobile phone or on your trusted portable player. Well, tell me where is the problem.

With the programs that I am about to suggest in this guide of mine, you can in fact download the contents of any disk directly onto your computer (a practice which in technical jargon is called “ripping”) without making any effort. All you need to do is choose the resource that you think can do the most for you and follow the instructions for use to be able to rip a CD . Furthermore, the procedure is feasible not only for audio discs, but also for video discs and those containing data of all kinds.

So? May I know what are you still doing standing there? Position yourself comfortably, take a few minutes of free time just for yourself and start immediately to concentrate on reading what is reported below. I’m sure that, in the end, you will be able to say that you are very happy and satisfied with what you have learned and that, even, if necessary, you will be ready to provide useful tips to all your interested friends. Let it bet?

How to copy a CD to PC

If you need to rip a CD on your computer, whether it’s Windows or Mac , you can resort to using one of the ad hoc tools that I’ll let you know below. They are all sufficiently simple to use, even by those who, a bit like you, don’t really consider themselves a great expert in terms of new technologies. Seeing is believing!

How to copy a CD to PC with VLC

VLC copia CD

The first useful tool to be able to copy the contents of a CD to your computer that I advise you to use is VLC : it is a famous and appreciated multimedia player, totally free and open source in nature, which allows you to play any audio file format and video without resorting to the use of external codecs. I have chosen to point it out to you in my guide as it also integrates useful functions for ripping CDs and DVDs. It should also be noted that it is compatible with both Windows and macOS (as well as Linux).

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To download the program to your computer, visit its website and click the Download VLC button . Once the download is complete, if you are using Windows , open the .exe file obtained and, in the window that opens on the desktop, click on the Yes , OK , Next (three times in a row) and Install buttons . Then complete the setup by clicking on the Finish button .

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If you are using macOS , however, open the .dmg package obtained and drag the VLC icon to the Mac Applications path  , then right-click on it and select the Open item from the context menu. Therefore, press the Open button in the window that opens on the screen, in order to start the software, however, going around the limitations imposed by Apple on applications from non-certified developers (an operation that must be performed only on first run).

At this point, insert the CD you want to rip into the burner connected to the computer, wait for the VLC window to be visible, then if you are using Windows , click on the Media menu located at the top left, select the Convert / Save item  from this last and, in the further window that opens, go to the Disc tab .

Then select the type of your disk from the Disc selection section: you can choose between the audio CD option (if you need to rip an audio CD) and the SVCD/VCD option (if you need to rip a video disc). Then choose your burner from the Disc Device drop-down menu , adjust the other available options, based on the type of disc previously selected (to view all the available options, check the box next to the Show other options item ), and click on the Convert / Save button located at the bottom right.

Finally, select the conversion profile you prefer, through the Profile menu (you can click on the button with the adjacent wrench to make further adjustments), indicate the location where you intend to save the contents of the CD, by clicking on the Browse button next to it to the Destination File heading , and start copying the disc by clicking the Start button .

If you are using macOS , instead click on the File menu located in the upper left, select the word Convert / Transmit  from the latter and drag the CD icon present in the Finder or on the desktop into the further window that has opened. Then, select the conversion profile of your interest using the Choose profile drop-down menu (to make any customizations, press the Customize button ).

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Finally, first press the Save as file button  located at the bottom and then the Browse button to define the output location, then click the Save button and wait for the CD content copying procedure to complete.

How to copy a CD to PC with HandBrake


Another program that, in my opinion, you should consider, if you want to be able to rip a CD, is HandBrake . Haven’t you ever heard of it? Strange, he’s very famous. Anyway, that’s no problem, we’ll fix it right away: it’s free, open source software and compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux, which allows you to save the contents of video CDs and DVDs in MP4 or MKV format.

To download it to your PC, go to the program’s website and click on the Download HandBrake xxx button . When the download is complete, if you are using Windows , start the .exe file obtained and, in the window that opens on the desktop, click on the Yes , Next (twice in a row) and Install buttons . Then complete the setup by pressing the Finish button . Afterwards, start the program by clicking on its link that has been added to the Start menu .

If you are using macOS , open the .dmg package obtained, drag the program icon to the macOS Applications folder , right-click on it and select the Open item from the context menu. Then press the Open button , in the window that opens, in order to start the application by circumventing the limitations imposed by Apple on software from non-certified developers (an operation that must be carried out only in conjunction with the first run).

Now, insert the CD of your interest into the burner connected to the computer, then select, in the HandBrake window that has appeared on the screen, the name of the disk  from the menu on the left (if no menu appears, press the Open Source button always located top left). Subsequently, expand the Presets menu located at the top right and indicate the conversion profile you prefer among those listed or, alternatively, the type of device on which, after copying, you intend to play the disk.

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Then, use the Title menu , top left, to select the parts of the disk you want to save on your computer, press the Browse button located at the bottom, to indicate the output location and, finally, start the conversion procedure, by clicking on the Start button located at the top left.

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If you wish, before starting the copy of the CD on the PC, you can customize the properties of the final video file: to do this, you just need to intervene on the options and menus accessible after selecting the Summary , Dimensions , Filters , Video , Audio , Subtitles tabs and Chapters placed in the central part of the program window.

How to copy a CD to PC with Nero

Nero Disc to Device

If what you are using is a PC with Windows installed and none of the programs I have already suggested has convinced you in a particular way, you can consider using Nero , the historic and renowned burning suite specifically for Microsoft operating systems . It is paid (it has prices starting from 49.95 euros, depending on the version chosen), but a free trial version is available that works without limitations for a few days.

To download the Nero Paltinum Suite trial (which is the version of the program that contains the useful tool for downloading the contents of the disks to your computer), visit the Nero website and click on the Download button located next to the program name . Then enter your e-mail address in the dedicated field and click on the Download now button . For more details, you can refer to my specific guide on how to download Nero for free.

Once the download procedure is completed, open the .exe file obtained and, using the window that appears on the desktop, tick the box relating to acceptance of the terms of use of the program. Then, click on the Next (twice in a row) and Checkout buttons . Then type your name , surname and payment information in the appropriate form (they are essential to proceed with the installation), click on the Continue button and wait for the software installation procedure to start and finish.

Once setup is complete, insert the CD you intend to rip into the burner and, in the program window that appears on the desktop, click on the Nero Disc to Device icon . In the further window that opens, then select the CD from the menu displayed, specify the location where you want to save the contents of the disk, indicate the parts of the disk you want to rip and click the Send button .

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How to rip an audio CD

The programs I told you about in the previous lines can also be used to rip an audio CD . However, if you are looking for something more specific, in my humble opinion, you would do well to refer to the resources that you find listed below.

Windows Media Player (Windows)

Windows Media Player ripping CD

If you are using Windows , to rip an audio CD you can rely on Windows Media Player , the famous multimedia player from Microsoft present on all the company’s operating systems (except for the “N” editions), which, perhaps not all know it, it can also be used to copy the contents of music disks to the computer and to perform various burning operations.

To use it for your purpose, first start the program by selecting the relevant link in the Start menu . If you cannot find Windows Media Player among the installed programs, it is evidently because the software is disabled on the system. To remedy this, you can refer to the instructions I gave you in my guide on how to download Windows Media Player.

Now, insert the audio CD you intend to rip into the drive connected to the computer and, in the Windows Media Player window that has appeared on the desktop in the meantime, select the album title in the left sidebar.

Then set the format and quality of the songs to be copied to your computer by clicking on the  CD copy settings button located at the top and selecting the options you prefer from the menu that opens. Note that by default, songs are saved in Windows Media Audio format with an audio quality of 128 Kbps.

Once this is done, check the box next to the titles of the songs contained in the audio CD, start copying them to your computer by pressing the Copy from CD button , and wait for the procedure to start and complete. Afterwards, you will find the contents of the CD you just copied in your Windows Media Player library.

Music/iTunes (macOS)

Musica ripping CD

If you are using macOS , you can rip an audio CD by using the  Music application (on macOS 10.15 Catalina or later versions) or by using iTunes (on macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier versions): in fact, these are the predefined programs of Apple computers for playing music and for managing it. They also offer useful functions for copying the contents of audio disks to the hard disk and for performing burning operations.

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To use it for the purpose of the tutorial, click on the Music or iTunes application icon (the one with the white background and the musical note ) that you find on the Dock bar , insert the audio CD you intend into the recorder connected to the Mac rip and, in the window that you see appearing on the desktop, press the Yes button , in response to the message by which you are asked if you want to import the CD into the program library .

If you do not see any message relating to the import appear, start the procedure “manually” by clicking on the File item located in the upper left part of the menu bar, selecting the Import item and then the audio CD through the additional window which opens.

Then wait for the copy of the contents of the disc to the computer to start and complete, after which you can access the album from the appropriate section of the application library.

How to copy a protected CD


Would you like to transfer the contents of some of your CDs onto your computer’s hard disk, to create backup copies that you can access in case of unexpected events, but the anti-copy protection applied to them prevents you from doing so? Well, I believe it well: the programs I told you about in the previous lines do not allow you to circumvent systems of this type: to do so, you have to resort to the use of some software specially designed for the purpose, such as the ones I pointed out to you in my guide on how to copy protected CDs.

In this case, however, keep in mind the fact that copying protected CDs in order to later use them personally is absolutely legal. Except for this circumstance, however, the practice constitutes a serious crime punishable by law. In light of this, since it is not my intention to encourage illegal activities with my guides, I do not assume any responsibility for the use you will make of my indications.

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