A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....
Burning Files To CD, The Bifocals Way May 15th, 2002
More About Burning CDs
I recently wrote a column about burning music CDs. This time I want to address burning other files to a CD (in other words, not a music CD). I had all kinds of problems when I first started trying to do this, but the solution to the problem is simple.
First a warning: Make sure you are using CDs that are rated for your CD burner. In other words, if you have an 8X CD burner, use blank CD-Rs that are rated for 8X burning. If you are using CD-Rs that are rated for 24X burners in a burner that only burns at 4X speed, you may run into trouble. Likewise, if you are using 8X CD-Rs and trying to burn at 12X speeds, you will definitely run into problems. You can look at the documentation that came with your Mac (or your CD burner if it is an after-market or stand alone burner) to find at which speed your burner works. Also, note that many CD burners burn at different speeds for CD-R (write once), and CD-RW (re-writeable). There is more on this below.
Back to that solution: If you are using Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X, you can burn CDs right from the Finder. Apple has included this ability in the most recent versions of its OS, and it really makes it easy. We are going to do this in OS 9, but you should be able to do this in Mac OS X too.
One more note: the tech-heads that advise me on these things tell me that not every 3rd party CD burner is supported for burning from the Finder. There are more supported burners in OS 9, but Apple has been steadily adding support for more burners in each new release of Mac OS X. If you are not certain about your CD burner, check Apple's list of compatible models.
Without further ado...
When you insert a blank CD the following window will open. The Format shown in this image is the correct one to use when burning files to a CD. It's called HFS+, and it's the format most of your Mac CDs were burned in. It doesn't much matter what it means for the purposes of this demonstration, but it's the choice you should make for burning files.
Setting Up A New CD For Burning
You can also name your CD in the "Name" box. When you have done so, click on Prepare. When finished, an icon for the CD, looking just like the one in the upper right corner of the image above, will appear on your desktop. Drag the files and folders you want to save to the disc icon. (Directions for dragging information can be found in the Computing With Bifocals Index).
When you have everything moved, open the CD by double clicking the disc icon on your desktop. Check to see if you have things in the exact order and format that you want. Once a CD-R is burned you can not make any changes. Choose Burn CD from the Special pull-down menu. A dialog box will open asking if you want to burn (write) the CD. This is important because you can not add items to a CD that has already been burned (note that you actually can do this for CD-RW, but we'll talk about that another time). Click on Confirm. The disk is then initialized and the files and folders are written on the CD. That is all there is to it.
Reader Tips for Burning Music CDs
Following the column on burning music CDs, several Observers took the time to pass on helpful hints and information. Bernard Grunow sent the following information. Had I read Bernard's tips before I tried to burn files to a CD, I could have saved myself lots of time. Bernard wrote:
Great column for those without the patience ;) to have to dig around the iTunes menus to find what you're looking for.
Something I want to mention is that trying a different media can help. For one thing (and this you probably already know, but just in case), different media is rated for different speed. You can buy 8x media or 4x media or 16x media or even 24X media. What this means is that the media is rated to accommodate the speed of the burner you have. 8X media should burn just fine on an 8X burner (which all CD-RW Macs have). 4X media, however, would only work on a 4X burner, or on an 8X burner reduced to 4X.
Also, trying a different kind of CD-R might help. I couldn't burn on my G4's internal burner at 8X with Yamaha media (even though it's a reputable brand and it was rated for 8X) but I could with Imation 16X CD-R. I'm *guessing* (I don't know this for a fact) that it never hurts to get media rated *above* the speed of your burner, just to give your burner a little buffer.
Fixes for Some Small Annoyances
I was really getting annoyed at a small problem I have been having with my computer. Annoyed because of the problem, and also annoyed because I couldn't figure out why it was happening. I usually prefer to view items in a folder as a list in OS 9, which I choose under the View pull-down menu. Once I have selected the list format I have further options of sorting which I select by choosing "Sort As" which is also found under the View pull-down menu. You can also click on the various tabbed buttons such as Name, Date Modified, Size, etc. in the window.
With the folder arranged in list format there will be some order to it. For instance, when you have sorted the list by name and you drag a new item to the list it will automatically be correctly placed alphabetically. I usually keep things in this order and it works fine for me. However, I seemed to open the door to trouble if I rearranged the list in some way, such as asking it to list according to date rather than name. Then, when I wanted to go back to a standard alphabetical list, my list would suddenly be displayed Z - A.
Is it too much to ask that an alphabetical list run from A - Z? I mean, I like a certain order to things. OK, OK, so I'm compulsive. I tried fixing it using the Preferences or View Options. Nothing worked. Finally I gave up and asked someone. You know, sometimes we just try to make something hard out of something easy. If you look at the picture below you will the beginning of the list of items found on the my hard drive on Classic OS.
Example of The Beginnings of a List
All the way to the right of the image, next to the word Size, is a little arrow pointing up. Pointing up causes the list to be sorted A - Z and, conversely, pointing down causes the list to be sorted Z - A.
The process is a bit different if you are in OS X and, if anything, it is even easier. Open your window of choice and select list from the view menu just as you would do in Classic. If your list is not already in alphabetical order select Sort By and choose "sort by name" (you can also do this just by clicking on the "Name" tab/button in your window). The bar across the top of your list will be similar to the example above. Only in OS X you can reverse the order from Z - A or from A - Z by clicking again on the bar titled Name. Click there several times and you will see your list switch back and forth from one listing to the other.
Observers are always welcome to write in with tips and suggestions that will help first time users. I will print all that are appropriate.
If you have any questions, comments, or tips, let me know and I may include them in a future column.
Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping. To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.
Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color,
covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.
Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.