How Do I Eject a CD or DVD From My Mac?

7 tips for ejecting a CD or DVD from your Mac or external drive

It's been a while since Apple has offered Macs with built-in optical drives that could make use of a CD or DVD. The last models were the 2012 Mac Pro and the mid-year 2012 non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Illustration of 5 ways to eject a CD, including eject key, menu bar, cd icon, trash icon, and f12 key.
Maritsa Patrinos / Lifewire

Apple first removed the optical drive in the 2008 MacBook Air, and by the end of 2013, all built-in optical drives were gone from the Mac lineup. That doesn't mean there isn't a demand for optical drives or the CDs or DVDs that are used in them. That's why external optical drives are a popular peripheral for many Mac users.

Whether you have an older Mac that has a built-in optical drive or an external drive, you can eject a CD or DVD in several ways.

The 7 Most Common Ways to Eject a CD or DVD

The Mac, unlike most Windows PCs, doesn't have an external eject button on its CD/DVD drive. Instead, Apple made use of the ability of optical drives to respond to an open or close command sent over the drive's electrical interface. By using the open and close commands, the Mac offers several options for ejecting a CD or DVD.

  • Some Apple keyboards have an eject key, usually located in the upper right corner of the keyboard. Press the Eject key to eject the CD or DVD from the drive.
  • On any keyboard, including those originally designed for use with a Windows PC, press and hold the F12 key until the CD or DVD is ejected from the drive. This may take several seconds.
  • Locate the desktop icon for the CD or DVD. Click and hold on the icon and drag it to the trash. You'll notice that the trash icon changes to an Eject symbol as the CD or DVD icon is positioned over the trash.
  • One of the quickest ways to eject a CD or DVD is to right-click on its desktop icon and select Eject from the pop-up menu.
  • Some applications, such as Disk Utility, have an eject command in a menu or toolbar. Launch the application and use the eject command to eject the CD or DVD.
  • Use the Eject menu applet located in the Mac's menu bar. If you don't see one, you can add a menu bar item to eject a CD or DVD.
  • When all else fails, click and hold the mouse or trackpad button while restarting your Mac.

Ejection Tricks Specific to External Optical Drives

External optical drives typically respond to the seven methods of ejecting a CD or DVD on a Mac, but they also have a few tricks of their own.

  • Most external optical drives have an eject button built into the front of the drive's case. Pressing the eject button causes the device tray to open or the optical media to be ejected if it's a slot-loading device.
  • Some external optical drives appear to be missing an obvious eject button, but if you look closely, you'll see a small hole in the front of the case large enough to insert a straightened paper clip into it. Push the paper clip into the eject hole until you feel resistance and then push it a bit further to open the CD/DVD drawer on the optical drive.

Your Mac can override the function of the external eject button if it thinks the optical disc is in use. You can get around this problem by first quitting the app that is using the optical drive and then using the external eject button.

If the external optical drive still won't eject the disc, shut down your Mac and try using the drive's eject button. After the disc is ejected, you can restart the Mac.

If All Else Fails

External optical drives are usually made from standard optical drives mounted in an external case. The drive can usually be removed from the case. When you remove it, the drive tray may expose the eject hole that was covered up by the enclosure. Then, you can use the paper clip method.

Going to Extremes

When nothing seems to work, it may be time to break out a flat-blade screwdriver. You can force the tray on a tray-based optical drive open with the aid of a prying device. Here's how:

  1. Turn off the external optical drive and disconnect it from the Mac.

  2. Insert the flat blade screwdriver tip into the lip between the tray and the case of the drive.

  3. Gently lever the tray open. You may feel some resistance and hear the sound of gears moving within the drive. Perform this step slowly. Brute force should not be required.

  4. When the tray opens, remove the optical media.​

  5. Close the tray when the task is complete.

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