How to fix common CD/DVD drive issues on a MacBook

September 22, 2008

Have you ever gotten your favorite CD or DVD stuck in the disk drive in your Mac? Had a CD or DVD inserted improperly, only to make the sounds of a dying yak and get jammed up? Had difficulty having iTunes read your disc? Chances are the answer to these and many other common questions is a resounding yes.

There are several quick fixes you can do to try and get yourself out of your own mess without having to drag your Mac to the nearest Genius Bar or, worse, send it in for help. The most well known and most common of these is the “paper clip trick”. This is exactly what it sounds like.

You take a common large paper clip and unbend it. Keep it as straight as you can by straightening as many of the bends in it as possible. Leave yourself a little bit of bend in the back to grip. Stick the business end of the paper clip into the side of the CD tray and try to trigger the mechanism that ejects the disk. DO NOT wiggle the paper clip around! Keep it straight! Otherwise you may damage the drive or the disk and still end up at the Genius Bar.

The credit card trick work a bit better with the optical drives on the MacBooks. This requires sliding a credit card under the CD and giving it a push up to make it pop off the spindle. This could also damage the disk (or the drive) if you aren’t careful. It works similar to jimmying a door open with a credit card when you leave your keys behind and have to get back in your house.

You can also try to reboot the laptop and send a hard eject to the drive. You do this by holding down the trackpad while you hold down the power button. The track pad causes a hard eject to occur if done in tandem with a reboot. This is about as reliable as the paper clip and credit card methods, but at least it won’t damage the disk or the drive. If you are a Terminal junkie you can type DRUTIL eject instead of holding down the track pad during a reboot.

Oddly enough, the MacBook line is affected by the simplest of all evils: gravity. If your laptop isn’t level when you are putting your drive in use your CD or DVD could become stuck. The same thing goes for cleanliness – dirty disks are also more likely to get stuck than clean ones. If all else fails, try gently flipping the MacBook over then trying to eject the disk from a position where the keyboard is facing down. Sometimes just easing the pressure helps pop it off the spindle.

This post was inspired by an afternoon of trying all of the repairs above to avoid a trip to the Genius Bar yesterday. The credit card trick ended up working for me, but I’d be interested to hear your tips on tricks that have worked for you when you are faced with a jammed disk.

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51 Responses to “How to fix common CD/DVD drive issues on a MacBook”

  1. Sarah:

    I had a similar problem the other day. On another site I saw a trick similar to the credit card, only you use a thin piece of cardboard (like the backing that batteries come with) to slide on top of the CD. It stops the optical drive from reading the CD and ejects it.

    The problem that causes the disk to not be ejected in the first place (if it isn’t physical, ie dirty or inserted improperly) is that the drive just keeps trying to read the CD. While sticking something in your cd drive doesn’t sound like the best idea, it works well with out damaging the disk. Make sure the cardboard is thin enough.

  2. Tasman:

    Hi. Our problem is the cd or the dvd will not stay in the drive. It fully inserts then about 15 seconds later it pops out. We tried a SMU repair that apple recommended (didn’t work). Could it be in need of new drivers? If I re install software will it wipe everything else out? Please, anyone do you have any ideas? Thank you.


  3. JM Marketing:

    My disk drive won’t accept any disks and kicks them out immediately. Anyone know what I can do? If it a SMC reset or a new drive that is needed?


  4. Rich D:

    JM Marketing I’m having the same issue, pretty pissed off about it really seeing as I only bought the mac new earlier this year. It’s a macbook pro and it plays some discs fine, others (DVD’s) stop half way through and some don’t even get recognized and same as your machine just eject straight away. oh and then there’s the issue of a very loud noise being emitted with some discs. I don’t usually have much need for the drive but I’m traveling at the moment and attempting to watch some movies in my free time without any joy. Going to email apple support and look around the net for some help.


  5. Phoebe:

    I have the same problem as JM marketing. Please help!!

  6. Mitchell T:

    I got my mac cd drive fixed on the ninety seventh try using paperclip, the terminal trick does nothing but simply try to eject a disk as the eject button would. Thankyou

  7. Mitchell T:

    I got my mac cd drive fixed on the ninety seventh try using paperclip, the terminal trick does nothing but simply try to eject a disk as the eject button would. Thankyou

  8. Dan:

    I’ve had the same Problem as JM Marketing.. TWICE, I’ve already had my drive replaced under warranty and now the new one has returned the same issues

  9. Fred:

    I also have the same problem as JM Marketing.

  10. sandy:

    i was a burning something onto a dvd when all of the sudden i hear loud noises coming my mac and message popped up saying the burning process had fail. i tried to eject the disk, but my mac did not respond. finally i got annoyed and shook it ( lightly) and pressed the eject button again,the disk came out. but now it wont accept any disk. when i insert a disk, it wont budge, even when i push the disk in as far as when theres only about 2 inch of the disk still left outside. Helppp !

  11. Phillip:

    I am also having the same problem as JM Marketing. My friend also. I’m surprised the solution isn’t out there since many people seem to be encountering the same problem. I smell an Apple coverup.

  12. sc:

    Removed upper felt pad from inside of slot.
    Drive is fixed.

  13. Manja:

    My MacBook Pro can’t read CDs anymore either and spits them out after trying for a while. Empty or full ones. This started in the middle of burning a CD.
    Should I give up or is there a way to get to the inside to clean the thing? What was that about a cleaning CD? Did anybody succeed in solving this problem on their own? What’s this about removing felt? Is that a solution for this problem or for a stuck CD?
    Thanks for any help!

  14. KiKiMacGirl:

    I ‘FIXED’ MINE!!! The CD drive on my 15″ macbook pro started spitting out my cds after making a god-awful regurgitative sound… Okay, apparently computers are a lot smarter than we are. I had a very low power supply, and the cd drive was using more power than my macbaby could handle. My battery died completely, but since i replaced it ( $60), i tried again….first the terrible sound continued, just when i thought the cd was gonna pop back out, it imported into my itunes!!! check your power supply, folks!!!

  15. Nic:

    hi….. the only problem i was having was with a few music cds the drive wouldn’t ready in itunes. So i check out this site where guy said hold down shift + command for a few seconds, and it worked the cd showed up on itunes and started importing. What Happen is i heard a buzz or humming noise held the keys and then for some stupid reason that workd, give it shot….hope you have luck like i did.

  16. sheron cohen:

    My macbook suddenly decided not to accept any discs. It spits them all out. I can’t even reinstall, since discs are needed to do so.

  17. Ben:

    hi… i put a disk in my computer and it got jammed. the problem is when i try and eject it it gets stuck and cant get pushed all the way through help?

  18. Matt:

    My macbook’s doing the same thing as most of the posts. it won’t accept most cd/dvds and when it does it just makes horrible noises for a while then spits it back out again. dunno about that…

  19. Luke:

    Same problem as most. Spits out every cd/dvd. Just thought I’d leave this comment as a petition. I hardly think steve will replace my 2006 drive though…

  20. Gamma:

    same thing happened to me. CD/DVD doesnt work; it rejects everything.

  21. shari:

    Same problem as most. GDit! I am still making payments on this thing! AND my laptop is stationary. This is probably the 10th time I’ve used the drive. I am super ticked. This is unacceptable.

  22. Carlos:

    I have the same problem. I can’t believe that Apple has spent so much time and thought in the design of most things (including the packaging for their products) but is overlooking very important and functional things like their optical drives. My gets stuck all the time. In order to eject I need to flip the laptop up-side-down and press the eject button. I can’t believe that Mac’s have such a Mickey mouse drive!

  23. wayneo:

    Same thing as everyone else, disk drive keeps spitting everything. I was going to just buy a new one but it seems to be such a common thing and reoccurring problem. I have tried everything bar pulling the thing apart and fiddling with its innards. I found that when I open Disk Utility the drive makes the same noise as when first booting up, if I insert a disk after the noise the disk will load 50% of the time. I refuse to believe its a worn out drive problem as it still works when it wants to. I have scoured hundreds of forums and its the SAME thing everywhere, everyone has the same problem, there is absolutely no easy fix and Apple are not saying a word….EVER.

  24. Joel:

    My macbook pro accepted DVD videos but not DVD roms. I solved the problem by pressing shift + command while inserting the dvd. Cheers for the advice!

  25. Kate:

    Mine would hold the cd in and not eject it but it works now after I took off the felt thing on the opening.

  26. ashbob:

    thankyou thankyou thankyou!

    credit card did just the trick(:

  27. colin:

    13″ macbook had the same reguritation sounds: knocking then spitting the disk out. I stuck a credit card in there and moved it side to side… I felt a piece move (like an arm or something). Pushed it all the way to the right. Moved the card back and forth, didn’t feel anything.

    Put a disk in and voila!

  28. jim:

    With so many people having the exact same issue you’d think Apple would just give in and stick a loading tray in their drives like every other computer on Earth, but oh no

  29. nassif:

    I have the same issues with my macbook. My dvd drive doesn’t work anymore. any dvd/cd i put inside just comes out after making same awful sounds. it used to work fine before

  30. Brian:

    Me too. DVDs & CDs are ejected after about 15 seconds. What the …

  31. Kit:

    So, I was having the same premature ejection problem as everyone else. I flipped the disk upside down, inserted it, then it ejected. I went right side up after that, and it was fixed. Probably a fluke, and I am not recommending anything. For what it’s worth, that’s what I did.

  32. Thor:

    It is clear that Apple really, really does not give a crap about their customers. Going from search to search and every one has a hundred people with the same problem and NEVER a solution. I have gleaned that it seems to happen after an update. Likely it is a software plant to sell more service and drives. The software will recognize when a new drive is installed and allow it to work again. Apple was so close to going belly up a few years ago because what they sell is basically crap. Then they got a nice slick look and new gadgeties to pump out. Now they are doing the All American technique of making stuff break to make money from fixing it. Japanese don’t do it. Only American manufacturers do this. Stop buying Mac and GM and all those other F@$#%^rs and maybe they will get the message. If they don’t, let em die a horrible death from starvation and we will all be better off.

  33. Gracie:

    PLLLLLEEEEEEEAAAASEEEEE PLEAAAASEEE HELP MEEE! okay well i have the same problem! my drive doesnt read any dvd’s or cd’s and doesnt think that there is anything in the drive so it doesnt eject it either! Its really annoying when i want to watch a dvd or put a cd onto my computer :s its been like this for about a year and i have just put up with not being about to use the drive, but i was wondering if there is a way that i can fix my problem instead of going to the computer shop and paying lots of money! please help me :)

  34. mikey1060:

    i’m going to look at a cd/dve usb drive for mine, it is a hassle but with all the flash drive capasity the only thing a cd is for is music and reloading the operating system

  35. Kate:

    my 2010 15 inch mb pro is only 8 months old; it made sort of a sick sound from the get go when i used CDs or DVDs. Now it sucks them up and spits them out. I tried the credit card. i tried the paper clip. i called apple care and they said I should turn off the computer, press shift, control, option, and the power button (nothing should happen) and then wait ~15 seconds, and press the power button again. no dice. THEN they said I should take it to the apple store. I am thinking that I might just get an external drive because the last time I went to the apple store I paid to have my computer backed up and they did a terrible job- tons of files were missing. luckily I did my own backup and will do one again before heading off to apple. i love apple and i don’t love apple. sigh.

  36. Stephanie:

    The reboot with hard eject (trackpad hold) worked for me. Disc got stuck and the drive would not recognize it. After trying a regular reboot, which got hung up, I ran the battery down to finally interrupt the failing reboot. Then, I reconnected the power supply, rebooted with the hard eject as you instructed and it ejected. Breathed a sigh of relief. Then, I held my breath, inserted the disc again, and the drive worked properly, played the disc, and ejected the disc with a regular eject. Thanks for the tip.

  37. Hammer:

    I believe some dirt entered my drive while carrying my laptop inside my filthy bookbag during a rainstorm. Thought I was doomed. Just tried the “shift + command” trick and my DVD is working for the first time since the incident.

  38. Julia:

    Flipping the cd upside down then ejecting it and putting it right side up worked for me. had to try it a few times, but it works!

  39. Jonathan Sommer:

    My mac pro doesn’t read the disc, whenever i want to put a cd in my mac it doesn’t go in and i’m afraid if i push the cd to far in i can’t get it out

  40. Patty R.:

    I removed the felt as suggested, then rebooted my computer. Worked great. Thank you for the help!!!

  41. Nicole N.:

    I had the same problem (dvd or cd went in but then mac spit it right back out). I used a gift card (the ones that are the same size as a credit card, just a little thinner) and swiped it gently back and forth in the cd drive. Now my dvds and cds are playing! I also had tried the shift control power button thing first, but for me it didn’t help.

  42. CeCe:

    How do you remove the felt? I’m in the same boat with everyone else…

  43. Claudette:

    I had the same problem with my cd’s and dvd’s being spit out. I tried the last suggestion of taking a gift card (I used a credit card) and swiped it gently back and forth in the cd drive. I also did the shift + control, but that didn’t work by itself. And then, I used an even more scratched cd and my Mac read it! Thanks for the suggestions folks!

  44. B:

    I just had this happen to me! I was backing up my itunes library to dvd’s and I was halfway done and it quit accepting discs! I tried a credit card in the slot and it’s working fine now! Thanks!

  45. earl grey:

    Shift command trick didn’t work for me, credit card trick didnt work, but oddly enough turning the CD upside down, and then reinserting it the right way fixed the problem! my driver sounds even more sickly than before but at least it works…

  46. dar zaman riad marrakech:

    So many people with problems, and no answers. My MacBook DVD reader doesn’t work anymore either, it accepts DVDs spins them around then spits them out a few seconds after. So annoying, it’s only 1 year old.

  47. Anonymous:

    You all deserve the faults of the £1700 machine after 1 year has passed, and you’re no longer covered!
    I bet you’ll all continue buying Apple trash because “they say” it’s the best!
    Well it’s not.
    Steve Jobbs is dead and Apple will be too. Give it 3 years and it will be gone.

  48. mishokorlov:

    i hav 2 imac’s 27-21 both of them the same problems they only year old!!!!!!!

  49. Sarah:

    I have a 10 month old 13 inch macbook pro and it won’t accept cds at all. Every time I try to insert a cd, the computer acts like there’s already a cd in the drive even though I am absolutely 100% positive there isn’t.
    I’ve tried the credit card, paper clip, and even turning my computer upside down. Nothing works. Help?

  50. Blamkabam:

    I have the same problem as most everyone else!!! I have the 13 inch MacBook and it is only a year old but when I insert the disc it makes this ugly sound and spits it out. I used toove apple but over time I have started to like them less and less. They need to do something about this instead of thinking about the iPhone and iPad and designs and so on. Please if anyone knows what is technically going on please do tell.

    Good luck all

  51. BobbieG85:

    What felt pad are you talking about? The one that keeps dust from entering the slot? How did you remove it?

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