This article was originally written in 2006, but the solution below still (in 2015) applies to Mac computers with optical drive.
Earlier this evening I inserted a blank DVD into my MacBook Pro wanting to burn some files. However, OS X never recognised the disc, nothing on the desktop, nothing in the Finder, not even in the Disk Utility. I pressed the Eject button, pressed and held F12 for a few seconds, but the disk was stuck.
I had a DVD stuck once before, even though recognised by the system, and I got it out after tilting the computer 45 degrees forward. But this time, whatever I did there was no eject mechanism sound at all, just a very quiet sound of the disk spinning up and slowing down every few seconds.
So I decided to use good old trick of holding down the mouse button while booting the computer up. Rebooted, held the trackpad button down – but nothing. Even more interesting is that the computer wouldn’t start up at all.
The only thing I hear, following the Apple sound, is the disk spinning, possibly trying to read the boot sector and then slowing down. And this gets repeated forever. The screen stays grey, no Apple logo, nothing.
OK, another try, held down Cmd-Option-P-R, then held down D and finally held down even C while booting, but exactly same result – disk spins up and slows down few times, grey screen and a high blood pressure.
I thought, the computer is trying to boot from the optical drive but is unable to read the disc hence going into the endless loop. So I used a little trick, I inserted a small piece of thin battery pack cardboard just above the disc and twisted it (the cardboard) a little so the disk can’t spin when starting up. I turned the computer on and held down the trackpad button.
I could hear the sound of the optical drive inside, not the spinning sound but rather sound of something moving ever so slightly. I heard it only two times and the third sound was a well known one – the offending DVD came out.
The computer then happily booted the OS X. I looked up the disc very carefully and there were no faults with it at all, no bends, no scratches or cracks, just a perfect DVD.
Oh … there is ONE MORE THING! Since 2006 this page was visited about 580.000 times (as of September 2014) and counting. Say 10% of visitors had a problem with their DVD drive. That’s 58.000 computers. Each of those would have paid at least $100 to Apple service centres to get their DVD out, and in some cases much more to replace the DVD / Super drive. This means Silvermac has saved you about $5.8 Million, probably much more thank that.
However, the total for all donations to Silvermac is $205. That’s in eight years. So once your disk pops out show your appreciation and make your donation here. A cup of coffee would be just fine. You can use either your PayPal account or your credit card and it’s much easier that getting that DVD out.