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

CD with Mac Laptop
Eject a CD or DVD with these tips. Gio Barto/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Question

How do I eject a CD or DVD from my Mac? I inserted a CD into my Mac, and now I can't figure out how to eject it. Where is the eject button?

Answer

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, which could actually accommodate multiple optical drives, and the mid-year 2012 non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple first removed the optical drive in the 2008 MacBook Air, but as of the end of 2013, when the Mac Pro was replaced with the newer model, all optical drives are gone from the Mac lineup, at least as built-in options. But 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 have been a popular peripheral for many Mac users.

Which brings us to our question: How do you eject a CD or DVD from a Mac or an externally connected optical drive?

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 drives electrical interface. By using the open and close commands the Mac offers several options for ejecting a CD or DVD.

The 7 Most Common Ways to Eject 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, then 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.
  • Perhaps 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 iTunes and 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 the Eject menu applet, you can create one using the instructions in: 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.

External optical drives will likely respond to the seven methods of ejecting a CD or DVD listed above, but they also have a few tricks of their own.

Ejection Tricks Specific to External Optical Drives

  • Most external optical drives have an eject button built into the front of the drive's case. Pressing the eject button will cause the device tray to open, or if it's a slot-loading device, the optical media to be ejected.
  • 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 paperclip. Push the paperclip into the eject hole until you feel resistance, then push it a bit further to open the CD/DVD drawer on the optical drive.
  • The external eject button's function can be overridden if your Mac thinks the optical disk 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 disk, try shutting down your Mac, and then using the drive's eject button. Once the disk is ejected, you can restart your 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. Once removed, the drive tray may expose the eject hole that was covered up by the enclosure.

Use the paperclip method mentioned above.

Going to Extremes

When nothing seems to work getting the media out of an external drive, it may be time to break out a flat blade screwdriver. Tray-based optical drives can have thier trays forced open with the aid of a prying device (the screwdriver).

  1. Make sure the external optical drive is turned off and disconnected from your Mac.
  2. Insert the flat blade screwdrivers 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 the sound of gears moving within the drive. Be sure and perform this step slowly. Brute force should not be required.
  4. Once the tray is open, remove the optical media.​
  5. Be sure and close the tray once the task is complete.