Ejecting a (Really) Stuck DVD from a Mac

| How-To

There is a standard set of procedures to eject a DVD. But what about one that just doesn't want to come out of a Mac? When all else fails, here's a trick that might work for you.

There are several, nominal ways to eject a DVD from a Mac:

  • Right click the DVD icon (if it appears) and select Eject
  • Select the DVD icon and press CMD-E
  • Hold the eject button on the keyboard down for two seconds. (or OPT+Eject for the second optical drive)
  • Hold the left mouse button down while rebooting

Yesterday, while burning a DVD+R DL (dual layer) DVD on my Mac Pro, the burn failed. No icon appeared on the desktop and there was nothing I could do to eject the disc, including holding the (left) mouse button down during a reboot.

After some sleuthing, I found this article that described the same problem. The author went to even more extremes. He held down CMD+OPT+P+R at boot. He held down the "D" and the "C" keys while rebooting. Nothing worked. Blood pressure rose.

Finally, he tried inserting a slim piece of cardboard on the top side of the DVD slot during reboot and also held down the track pad button. (See the photo in the link.) Apparently, the disruption of the disc rotation was just enough to cause the system to spit out the DVD.

I didn't have a piece of cardboard like that, so I tried using one of my business cards. I had to jiggle the card a little at the top of the slot (there's just enough room) and move it around until I felt it drag on the disc during boot. Held the mouse button down as well, and sure enough the drive spit the DVD out. Later, I tried burning again, and there was no apparent damage; burns were successful.

Biz card in DVD slot

I had to push the the card in further than shown here

The referenced article above dealt with a MacBook Pro. In my case, I wondered about the Mac Pro, so I opened up the Mac and slid the optical drive bay out. On the front of the drive in my machine there is a black eject button. The problem is, I doubt it would do anything with the Mac Pro powered down. Also, I noticed -- with a flashlight -- that when the drive bay is reinserted, the eject button is well masked behind several layers of metal, and I wasn't able to fish around to push it with the Mac powered up. Others may know the secret hole number and length of paper clip. I haven't found it.

Apple doesn't recommend removing the side panel when the Mac Pro is powered up. The loss of directed airflow could overheat internal components. So messing around with the optical drive bay with the Mac powered up isn't advised. Unless I figure out the magic hole and have the right instrument to poke in there, I'll be using the business card approach if this, heaven forbid, happens again.

Who would have guessed?

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Noah W

I always reboot into open firmware (reboot holding down CMD + O + F) and then at the prompt type “eject cd” without quotes and that does the trick, though I have an iMac not a Mac Pro

John C. Welch

it’s easier than that. Assuming no open files, just run this in Terminal:

drutil tray eject 

no sudo needed.


it?s easier than that. Assuming no open files, just run this in Terminal:

no sudo needed.

Thanks John, this little tidbit rocks!


If you very carefully, but rather firmly slap the right-hand upper part of the Mac Pro,almost over the end-right-side of the uppde optical door, then the upper tray will slide out. Ditto for the lower optical door. One caveat. That metal with all the holes is weak, because of the holes. I’ve developed a bit of a bowing-inwards, so be careful. If you take out the optical tray completely, you could reach with fingers or tools to “bang out the “bowing-in”.

Good luck,

and be careful.

Charles Gousha

As John Welch mentions, terminal is your best software-based approach.

drutil eject 

should eject anything in the optical drive, tray or slot, provided the drive can physically eject it.

Still won’t come out?  You <b>can/<b> safely open the Mac while it’s off, and pull optical drive assembly out without any tools.  After that, insert ye olde bent paper clip into the hole on the front of the now-exposed drive, and the tray is pushed out. It’s unfortunate that the manual eject hole has been covered up on Macs for the last ten years, but for those drives it’s always been there. It’s a simple operation and your last resort with tray-load drives.

If you have a slot-load drive instead?  Don’t even think about a paper clip or cardboard.  Take that in for service work.



Seriously, for a software way of doing it for those who have an aversion to Terminal, Toast Titanium works wonder.

It sends the same command ( drutil tray eject ) that Terminal does, except through an easy-less queasy interface.

My DVD-RW drive has been acting up the past few years where if I leave the tray closed I cannot open it until about the 20th try with the Eject button on the keyboard. I open Toast and use “Eject” from the Recorder menu, and it opens right up no problem.


same happened to me once with a PC , so i simply took a sledge-hammer to it and kept hitting until all parts were sufficiently split open.
Once i lifted all the smashed bits out of the way, lo-and-behold, the DVD was left sitting there on the ground. Success !!
Unfortunately, its a once-off fix only…..


same happened to me once with a PC , so i simply took a sledge-hammer to it and kept hitting until all parts were sufficiently split open… Unfortunately, its a once-off fix only…

Sorry to hear about your PC, man. My friend Lauren can help you find a good replacement, cheap. :D

XSemper Idem5

I’ve only had an issue with a stuck CD once with my MacBook Pro and it was after a failed burn. I just went straight to Disk Utility and was able to eject it. But I like that option with the Terminal. I’ll try it.


and for those command-line Terminal-averse of us, when all keyboard shortcuts and straightened paperclips fail, the iTunes’ triangular “Eject Disk” button has faithfully always done the trick.

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