How to Eject a CD That Doesn't Show Up on the Desktop on a Mac

By Avery Martin

MacBooks come equipped with slot-loading optical drives.
i Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The problem of ejecting a media from your Mac's optical drive can range from the benign to a more serious hardware-related issue. By starting with the least invasive method to remove the disc, you can avoid causing unnecessary damage to your optical drive bay. Depending on whether you have a drive tray or slot-loading drive, you need to employ different troubleshooting tactics. A tiny pinhole near the slot of the disc drive would help you remove a stuck CD from an older Macintosh: inserting the end of a straightened paperclip caused the disc to eject, but that feature was discontinued years ago. Before you take your computer in for repairs, try some standard troubleshooting techniques.

Enable Desktop Icons

During an upgrade or while adjusting system settings you may have inadvertently disabled the option to show CDs, DVDs and iPods on the Desktop. Make sure you enabled the option to show media on the Desktop. Click the "Finder" icon, select the "Finder" menu and click "Preferences." Choose the "General" tab and check the option to show CDs, DVDs and iPods. If you disabled this option, check your Desktop again to see if the icon displays.

Keyboard Shortcut Options

A few options exist to attempt to eject a disk not displaying on the Desktop using a few simple keystrokes. Most Mac keyboards come with an eject button on the top right of the keyboard. Pressing the eject button repeatedly may eject a disc, if the problem isn't the physical hard drive. Also trying using the "F12" key on the keyboard if you don't have an eject button, or the eject key doesn't work.

Rebooting Your System

In the event that you can't eject a disc using keyboard commands, attempt to restart your computer. If the disc still doesn't display on the Desktop, click the "Finder" icon in the Dock and check to see if the disk displays in the Devices section. You can click the eject button next to the optical drive to attempt to eject the disc. If the disc still doesn't eject, restart your computer and hold the track pad down while the computer boots on a MacBook, or hold the main mouse button down on models without a track pad.

System Management Controller

The System Management Controller performs many low-level functions that don't require user interaction. The fans, lights, power-related functions and several hardware-related problems often resolve by resetting the SMC. On MacBooks without a removable battery, shut down the computer and plug the device into a power outlet. Hold down the left side "Shift-Control-Option" keys along with the power button at the same time. Release all of the keys. On a desktop Mac, shut down the computer, unplug the power cord and wait 15 seconds. After performing the reset, start your computer up to see if the disc issue resolves.

Slot-Loading Optical Drives

Slot-loading optical drives can exist as external or internal drives. Make sure you place the drive on a flat surface and facing the correct direction. Connect the drive directly to an available USB port on the computer and don't use a USB hub. The hub won't provide enough power to support the device. Try disconnecting the drive, rebooting the computer and then reconnecting the drive to see if the disc displays on the Desktop.