Mac OS X: About burning data onto CDs

If your computer has CD recording capabilities, you can create your own CDs. When you write information to a CD (that is, save information on the CD), the computer "burns" the files onto it with a laser.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Insert a blank CD-R or CD-RW disc. You will be prompted to prepare the disc for burning.

If nothing happens, see technical document 25545, "Mac OS X: When You Put in A Blank CD, It Doesn't Appear".

For information on choosing a format, see technical document 61342 "Mac OS X: How to Choose a Disc Format for Burning a CD"

When this process is complete, an icon for the CD appears on your desktop.

CD-R icon in Finder window

If you choose Open Finder from the pop-up menu, then follow the steps below. Note: Although a CD icon appears in the drive listing, no burning has yet occurred.

  1. Drag the files and folders you want to save on the disc to its icon. See Note 1.
  2. Click the disc icon, then choose Burn CD from the File menu or drag the CD icon to the Burn icon in the Dock (the Trash icon changes to the Disc Burner icon when an unformatted CD-R is dragged to it). See Note 2. A dialog box appears.
  3. Click Burn. The disc is initialized and the files and folders are saved on the disc. This process takes several minutes. See Note 4.

Final Burn dialog


  1. Files written to the CD are temporarily stored on your hard disk. Depending on the size of the blank CD, your files, and your hard disk, you may need as much as twice the capacity of the CD in free space on your startup disk. For example, if you are using a 650 MB CD-R disc you should make sure that your startup disk has at least 1.3 GB of available space.
  2. If you decide not to burn a CD that you have prepared in step 1, eject the disc prior to choosing the Burn command or click the Eject button at the final burn dialog shown above.
  3. If you cancel while the disc is being burned, the CD will be incomplete and unreliable. You should not use it.
  4. The length of time it takes to create a disc depends on the blank media you use, and the size and number of files on the disc.
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