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Ejecting stubborn CDs/DVDs from your Mac

It’s not incredibly common, but it does happen once in a while—a disc gets stuck in your optical drive. There are a number of ways that this could happen, but it usually occurs when the disk is unmounted but doesn’t get ejected. Being unmounted, the Mac doesn’t think there is anything in the drive, so further attempts to eject prove fruitless.

As aggravating as this can be, before you grab a screwdriver and attempt to disassemble your Mac, you may want to try some of these methods to coerce it into finally ejecting the disc.

  • Hold down the (left) mouse button or trackpad button during boot. This is a built-in key/button combo that dates far back into Macintosh history – it used to eject the disk from the floppy drive…
  • Hold the Option key during boot. This will display all the drives you can boot from. From here, the Eject key on your keyboard should allow you to eject.
  • Boot into Target Disk mode (hold down the T key until you see the Firewire logo), then tap the Eject key.
  • Boot into open firmware (hold down Command-Option-O-F). Type eject cd, and wait for disk to pop out, then type “mac-boot” (without the quotes)and hit return. Note: this only works for PPC Macs.
  • Zap the PRAM (reboot holding down Command-Option-P-R and releasing the keys after the 2nd chime). Your Mac will “reinventory” the attached hardware, and remount your optical drive, so you may eject it.
  • Reawakening a Mac from sleep can cause it to re-mount the drive, which would then allow it to be ejectable.
  • Some Macs have been known to automatically eject the disk if they remain powered up and left alone for about 10 minutes.
  • Some CDs may warp when heated. So, allow your Mac to fully cool down, then eject the disk as soon as the Mac reboots.

While this may not be the “be-all, end-all” of disc ejection solutions, these will usually get you back on track if all you’re dealing with is a software hiccup.

Rocket Yard Contributor
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  • I found a way to eject a DVD that doesn’t even require a reboot: just launch Disk Utility and see if the stuck DVD shows up in the list. If it does, you can eject it from within Disk Utility. Easy-peasy.

  • iMagination at work!! It’s NOT all at GE!! Very good guys. And for you, the one who just HAD to go take it apart (OWC Chris S.) I can see you don’t think like an emergency kind of guy or a woman! I commend all of you who cardboarded, slipped in the tape w/a business card, etc. And for the idiot who’s dealing w/ 2 discs in there – call Chris S.! If any of you are using a Microsoft ergonomic board and lose a disc, the key is F12. I had to call Microsoft who then had me call Applehelp to get this!!

  • OWC Chris – This article by OWC is good, don’t get me wrong. And it’s helpful. One more thing to promote OWC. I only listed my issue and another option, if you have tried all else, listed and reached the end. I wrote a blog post, recently, about the hardware failure and that I bought a SATA drive from OWC to assist in the abatement of the situation.

    One more reason to use OWC?: Knowledge

  • Ok software issues…disk utility has an option to eject disk and also terminal command: “drutil eject” ?

  • Hmm… somewhere along the line, I think we missed the mark on this – I believe what OWC Glen was talking about was what to try there’s a software problem, not a hardware one.

    If it’s a hardware failure, then you’re looking at whole different monster, which is what most of comments seem to be about.

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of the “jam something else in the drive to pull the disc out” method. If I’ve had a hardware failure in my optical drive and it refuses to eject, I generally remove the drive (a hardware failure means you’ll likely be replacing it anyway) and either:

    a.) Use a paperclip to manually eject the drive (all tray-loaders have an obvious one. With slot-loading drives, it’s a crap shoot.)

    b.) disassemble the drive and remove the disk. This usually is what you wind up having to do with slot-loaders. This greatly reduces the likeliness of the disc inside getting scratched on something.

  • This is somewhat off the topic, but what to do if someone loaded 2 discs into the internal disc drive of an iMac.

    I’m trying to help a buddy of mine who got really stupid one day and shoved a second disc into the drive, and now it’s stuck.

    Many thanks.

  • For slot loading drives. Take a business card, stick a tape to one end, slide it in the drive, press eject key and pull the disk out :-)

  • I recently had to order a SATA enclosure from OWC, when my last MBP died. I won’t get into the fact that Liquid Caffeine doesn’t accelerate your computer here. But I will say that to get the DVD out, non of the above worked. If you get in that situation I was able to remove the disk by slipping a piece of paper-board into the slot with the DVD spinning. I used a Battery Package (not the plastic, the “cardboard”) turned slightly to stop the DVD from spinning. The mac then spit the disk out. This is not recommended but as a last resort. Especially when your computer is, almost but, “not dead yet”.