How to Disable HDCP on a MacBook Pro

by Fraser Sherman ; Updated September 28, 2017

High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is an anti-piracy program that prevents unauthorized copying of digital television, movies, DVDs and audio. It's a standard component in HDTV and Blu-ray players. In 2008, Apple added HDCP to MacBook and MacBook Pro as a tool to block users from pirating iTunes content. If a movie is HDCP-protected, it won't run on a platform that doesn't support HDCP, or that's hooked up to non-HDCP-compliant machines. Unfortunately, this can result in your MacBook Pro refusing to play HDCP-protected material. You can work around this, but at the time of publication, no solution exists to disable HDCP completely.

Check whether your attached equipment is HDCP-compliant. If you've hooked up your MacBook Pro to an external monitor for your viewing pleasure, and it doesn't support HDCP, HDCP may treat this as a piracy attempt, though some material, such as TV shows, will still run. If you replace the monitor with an HDCP-approved one, or if you watch the movie on the Mac's regular screen, it should play without any problems.

Take an older Mac out of mothballs and transfer the movie over to that computer. HDCP works through Apple's Mini DisplayPort, a digital connection to external displays. If you have an older, iTunes-compliant computer that doesn't have DisplayPort, nothing will stop it from playing the movie on the external monitor.

Right-click the material you want to watch, select "Version" and then choose "Standard Definition." This leaves the movie free to run on your external monitor because it's not playing in high-definition format. This doesn't trigger HDCP, so there's no resistance. ITunes attempts to play movies in high-def by default.

Tip

  • Even if you connect your MacBook Pro to an HDCP-compliant device -- a compliant splitter, for instance -- HDCP may still shut you down if other equipment connected to that device isn't acceptable to HDCP.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.