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Apple Mac OS X hints and tips

14 ways to eject a stuck CD or DVD disc

CD/DVD-Rom drives can be placed into two broad categories and there are the ones with a slide-out tray disc loading mechanism and the others that have a slot loading facility. Of course, it doesn't make any difference to the disc-playing functions and features of the drive and both types are equally capable devices. However, the difference becomes apparent when there is a problem and the computer refuses to eject a disc.

Ejecting a disc from either type of drive is usually straightforward and there is either a button on the drive itself, the computer, the keyboard, or it is a function within the operating system and you click a button or menu on the screen.

The thing is that no matter whether you physically press a button on the drive or click a button or menu on the screen, the process of ejecting a disc is purely under software control. It has to be this was because you could be running a program that requires a disc to be in the drive. A typical example is a game and you must insert the disc before you start it and then you can only eject it after you have finished playing it. If you could eject it while in the middle of playing a game the computer might crash. It's not just games, of course, and you cold be playing music, ripping CDs, watching DVDs and so on.

The eject function is disabled when the operating system is using a disc. Sometimes a disc will not eject and when this happens it is usually because the system thinks that the disk is still in use (it could be that the system thinks there is no disc in the drive too). This is where the difference between tray-loading and slot-loading drives becomes apparent. A tray-loading drive has a tiny hole on the front and if you switch off the computer, straighten a paperclip, and poke it into the hole it will release the catch on the spring-loaded tray mechanism. The tray pops out and you can remove the disc.

You can't do this with a slot-loading drive and the only way to eject a disc is through a software command when the computer is powered up. Unfortunately, Macs have slot-loading CD/DVD-Rom drive mechanisms and sometimes the Mac simply refuses to eject a disc that is in the drive. So let's look at the varius techniques for ejecting a disc and hopefully one of these should help to solve a stuck disc problem.

  • Close all programs that are running. Click the Apple menu, Force Quit and make sure nothing is running apart from Finder.
  • Drag the CD/DVD icon on the desktop to the Trash and empty the Trash.
  • Press the eject button on the keyboard if there is one.
  • Right click the CD/DVD icon and select Eject.
  • Select the CD/DVD icon and press Command+E.
  • Hold down the Eject button on the keyboard for two or three seconds.
  • Open a Terminal window and type drutil tray eject, or type drutil tray open or just drutil eject
  • Start the Mac while holding down the left mouse button.
  • Press and hold the F12 key.
  • Applications like Disk Utility, iTunes and CD/DVD burning software have eject buttons and menu options, so try them.
  • Some users say that if you put the Mac to sleep on the Apple menu, wait for the CD/DVD to stop spinning, then wake up the Mac the disc can be ejected.
  • Hold down the eject button while booting the Mac.
  • Some people have reported that booting while holding down the Command+O+F and then typing eject cd does the trick. Afterwards, type mac-boot to restart the system.
  • Some people have been known to push a thin piece of card into the drive slot to stop the disc spinning. The error condition enables the disc to be ejected. You do risk damaging the drive though, so it's not recommended, but a lot of people have used this technique and it appears to work.


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