Mac OS 9: How to Burn a CD and Choose a Format

This document explains how to burn a CD using a CD-R or CD-RW drive and explains which disc format may be most appropriate for your needs.
This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
Important: The information in this document assumes you have installed iTunes 2 or Authoring Support 1.1.3 or later and are using Mac OS 9. Both are available for download from Apple Software Downloads ( If you are using Mac OS X, see technical document 61339 "Mac OS X: About Burning Data Onto CDs"

Creating CDs

If your Mac has a recordable disc drive, you can create your own CDs in several different formats.

You use blank CD-R or CD-RW (read/write) discs to create your own CDs. Once a CD-R disc has been recorded, or "burned," you cannot modify the disc or any of the files on it. The discs you create are "single-session" CDs. You can burn CD-R discs only once; any extra space on the disc cannot be reused or recovered.

If you want to use a CD-RW disc that already has files on it, you must erase it first. Many CD drives in earlier computers cannot reliably read CD-RW discs. For better compatibility, use CD-R discs instead.

How to Burn a CD
    1. Insert a blank disc into the CD recording drive. A dialog box appears.
    2. Type a name for the disc in the Name field.
    3. Choose a disc format from the Format pop-up menu. For information about the formats, see the "Choosing a Disc Format" section, below.
    4. Click Prepare. A disc icon appears on the desktop.
    5. Drag the files and folders you want to save on the disc to its icon. See Note 1.
    6. When the files and folders are finished copying to the disc icon, arrange them exactly as you want to see them when the disc is burned. Once you burn a disc, you cannot change the placement of files or folders or their names. See Notes 2 and 3.
    7. Click the disc icon, then choose Burn CD from the Special menu. See Note 4. A dialog box appears.
    8. Click Burn. The disc is initialized and the files and folders are saved on the disc. This process takes several minutes. See Notes 5, and 6.

Choosing a Disc Format

You can choose from three disc formats when you create a CD. Each has a purpose, which is outlined here.

Standard (HFS+/ISO 9660)

Choose Standard format if you plan to use the disc with Macintosh computers or with both Macintosh and non-Macintosh computers. This format may also work with some later MP3-CD players.

Standard format is a hybrid of both Mac OS Extended (HFS Plus) and ISO 9660 formats. When read on most Macintosh and Windows-compatible computers, filenames appear as they do on any other disk. See Note 7. When read as an ISO 9660 disc on other computers, filenames appear in all uppercase characters, and they may also be shortened to fit the ISO 9660 level 1 standard (eight characters followed by a period followed by three characters, or 8.3).

CD-R or CD-RW media can be used with this format, though some earlier computers may not be able to read a CD-RW disc.

iTunes (Audio CD)

Choose iTunes format if you want to play the disc in a CD player. The CD should also work in any computer that can play audio CDs.

The iTunes application program opens when you choose this format so you can create your audio CD using music from your music library.

You should only use CD-R discs when creating audio CDs. Few CD players can read CD-RW discs.

MP3 CD (ISO 9660)

Choose MP3 CD format if you plan to use the disc only with non-Macintosh computers or if you have an MP3-CD player. See Note 8.

You generally only choose this format to save MP3 files on a disc, but you could use it to save any data file. Most computers and MP3-CD players can read discs that use the ISO 9660 format. If you plan to use the disc only with Mac OS or Windows-compatible computers, you should use the Standard format instead.

On computers using Mac OS X, and on Windows-compatible computers, filenames on these discs appear as they do on any disk. On computers using Mac OS 9 or on earlier computers, filenames appear as all uppercase characters. They may also be shortened to fit the ISO 9660 level one standard (eight characters followed by a period followed by three characters, or 8.3).

CD-R or CD-RW media can be used with this format, though earlier computers and MP3-CD players may not be able to read CD-RW discs.

    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. When you create a Standard format CD, the size and location of the disc's window, whether or not the disc's window is open, and the position of all the icons are recorded on the disc. Make sure the disc is how you want it before recording it. If you choose to create an MP3 (ISO-9660) or iTunes audio disc, this extra information is not retained.

    3. The names of files and folders on the burned disc may be different from what you see when you prepare the disc. Depending on the disc format you choose, files and folders may have truncated names, or be in all uppercase characters.

    4. If you decide not to burn a CD that you have prepared in step 6, drag the disc icon to the Trash instead of choosing Burn CD from the Special menu.

    5. If you cancel while the disc is being burned, the CD will be incomplete and unreliable. You should not use it.

    6. 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.

    7. On earlier versions of the Mac OS or Windows a Standard format disc may appear only as an ISO 9660 disc.

    8. The MP3 CD format may not work on some earlier MP3 players.
Published Date: Feb 18, 2012