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Apple Computers: Troubleshooting the slot-loading SuperDrive

Follow the steps below if you need help setting up or using your Apple USB SuperDrive, MacBook Air SuperDrive, or built-in SuperDrive.

Apple computers without a built-in optical drive can connect an external Apple USB SuperDrive or MacBook Air SuperDrive to read optical media such as CDs and DVDs. The Apple USB SuperDrive has a slightly longer (340mm) cable compared to the cable on the MacBook Air SuperDrive (250mm). Both SuperDrives are functionally equivalent.

Older models of the MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac mini computers have a built-in SuperDrive. The SuperDrive uses a slot-loading mechanism which pulls the disc directly in rather than first placing the disc onto a loading tray. Older Mac Pro models use a loading tray.

First steps

  1. Make sure the Apple USB SuperDrive is lying flat on a surface with the silver top facing upward (shown below). If the Superdrive is oriented upside down it will not read discs.

    Correct - Aluminum enclosure is facing up

    Incorrect - Apple logo should be facing down

    Note: Because the USB port on external displays may not be powered at startup, connect the drive directly to the USB ports on your Apple computer when you need to use the Superdrive as a startup device. Reconnect the Superdrive directly to the display when you no longer need to start the computer from the SuperDrive.

  2. The Apple USB SuperDrive and MacBook Air SuperDrive are designed exclusively for use with Mac computers that do not have a built-in optical drive. Plug in the SuperDrive directly to the computer's USB port. Don't use a USB hub.
  3. You can also connect the SuperDrive to the USB ports on the back of the Apple LED Cinema Display (24-inch, Late 2008), Apple LED Cinema Display (27-inch), or Apple Thunderbolt Display.
  4. Be sure not to put the drive underneath anything heavy, underneath your computer, or on top of your computer.
  5. If you have trouble using a SuperDrive with Microsoft Windows, try starting the computer with the SuperDrive already plugged in.

Check your disc

Before troubleshooting, first confirm the discs you are using will work with your computer. Inserting a non-standard sized or shaped disc into a drive that is not designed to accommodate it may damage the drive. Use of such discs is not supported and any damage caused will not be covered under your Apple warranty or applicable extended service contract. The slot loading drives used in Apple computers work with only standard 120 mm round discs.

Standard 120 mm round disc:

Example non-standard sized or shaped discs that are not supported:



Specific troubleshooting

Below are several possible symptoms you may see. Follow the steps for the appropriate symptom to figure out whether the issue stems from the drive or the media. Be sure to inspect discs before use to ensure they are not cracked, scratched, or otherwise damaged. Inspection should include the inner ring of the disc which should be smooth and burr free. A disc with physical defects may become stuck in or cause damage to the drive.

Doesn't accept discs

  1. Be sure to check your disc to make sure it is flat. You can check this by putting the disc upside-down on a flat surface. If the disc is bowed up on any side or in the center, do not use the disc because it might get stuck in the drive. Do not use discs that have anything attached to them or dangling from them (such as "sweeper" or cleaning discs).
  2. If the drive struggles when you put in a disc or stops part-way, carefully look at the disc for labels that may be interfering. If there aren't any raised labels then try putting the disc in a few more times.
  3. Try another disc to see if the issue is being caused by a specific disc.
  4. Make sure you insert the disc far enough for the drive mechanism to activate. You need to insert discs nearly all the way before the drive will activate and pull them in. If you don't completely insert a disc, the drive will reverse and push the disc back out.
  5. Allow the drive one or two seconds to accept the disc while it is fully inserted.
  6. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC).
  7. If the drive repeatedly does not accept discs, contact Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or make an appointment with an Apple Retail Store.

Accepts discs but they don't mount or are automatically ejected

  1. Make sure the drive is not placed upside down. The aluminum enclosure should be facing up as shown in section 1.
  2. Check the disc's surface for scratches and dirt, since these things can prevent the disc from appearing on the desktop.
  3. Connect the MacBook Air SuperDrive directly to the computer's USB port instead a USB hub.
  4. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC).
  5. Ensure your drive can read the specific type of disc being used. The System Profiler or System Information may provide additional information regarding what media your computer supports.
    • OS X Snow Leopard v10.6 or earlier: Open Apple System Profiler by choosing "About this Mac" from the Apple () menu. Then, click More Info.
    • OS X Lion v10.7 and later: Click the Apple () menu and then hold down the Option key. Choose System Information from the menu.
  6. If the disc continues to not be recognized, contact Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or make an appointment with an Apple Retail Store.

Doesn't eject discs or discs eject slowly

  1. If the drive ejects discs slowly or appears to be struggling, insert and eject a single disc several times. Check the disc to see if it has a label or other material stuck to the disc that increases the thickness. Remove the label if possible.
  2. If the disc will not eject, try pressing the eject key on the keyboard. Some older keyboards may use the F12 key to eject discs.
  3. If the disc will not eject, try dragging the disc icon to the trash.
  4. If the disc will still not eject, try holding down the trackpad or mouse button after restarting the computer. The Superdrive should attempt to eject the disc.
  5. If the disc continues not to eject, reset the System Management Controller (SMC) and try steps 1-4 again.
  6. If the disc still does not eject, contact Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or make an appointment with an Apple Retail Store for additional assistance.

Noisy or vibrating drive

  1. Read more about Noises from the optical drive, and compare the sample files provided to the noises you are experiencing. Due to the way optical drives function by rotating the disc rapidly, some noise and vibration is expected.
  2. If after reviewing the article in step 1, the drive appears to be noisy beyond the samples provided when you insert or eject discs, try inserting and ejecting a disc several times to correct the issue.
  3. Try other discs to see if the issue can be isolated to a single disc, or type of disc, as opposed to the drive itself. If a disc is weighted unevenly, such as discs that have a labels or stickers, it can cause additional noise and vibration when spinning up in the drive.
  4. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC).
  5. Vibrations due to the optical drive being in use may be exacerbated by using the system on a surface that is not hard and level. Make sure all the plastic feet on your notebook computer are present as this could create an uneven surface.
  6. Be aware that the drive should only operate horizontally, and noise may increase if you try to use it at an angle. Picking up or moving the machine while a disc is being read may result in the disc becoming unbalanced. Any damage sustained to the drive or the disc as a result of operating it in this manner is not covered by the products warranty.
  7. While a certain amount of noise and vibration is expected, if you believe the noise or the vibrations being generated by the drive are not normal, please contact Apple, contact an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or make an appointment with an Apple Retail Store for additional troubleshooting, evaluation, or service options.

Scratches discs

If media is getting scratched after being used in the drive, contact Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or make an appointment with an Apple Retail Store for additional troubleshooting, evaluation, or service.

Learn more

  • You can use a SuperDrive with Mac mini (late 2009) and later, MacBook Pro with Retina Display, MacBook Air, iMac (Late 2012) and later, and Mac Pro (Late 2013) computers. Note that there is no eject button on these models to eject a disc. In order to eject you can Control-click or right-click the disc icon and choose Eject from the menu that appears. You can also drag the disc icon to the trash.
  • For computers that did not ship with an optical drive and do not have the Apple USB SuperDrive, you can use CD or DVD sharing to access a CD or DVD in another computer's optical drive.

See the compatibility list for Mac computers and the Apple USB SuperDrive or the MacBook Air SuperDrive.

Last Modified: Sep 4, 2014
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  • Last Modified: Sep 4, 2014
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