How to Recover Photos From a CD (6 Steps)

By Eirik Ott

Burn free music to a CD.
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Of the many industries revolutionized by digital technology, photography is arguably the field that has changed most irrevocably. Gone are the boxes of random photos and endless books of snapshots glued to black paper, replaced by digital photo frames, cell phones and hard drives filled with every shot our digital cameras take. As more and more of your photographic history gets turned into bytes and bits, the more archiving your digital photos becomes vitally important. Burning your photos to a CD is a simple way to backup your images and save them for future viewing. Recovering photos from a CD, damaged or otherwise, is a snap.

Recover Photos from a Working CD

Step 1

Place the photo CD into your computer's optical drive. If you are using a Mac, the CD should boot right up and appear as an icon on your desktop, so just double-click on it to open a window showing all the photos on the CD. For PCs, open the Start menu, choose My Computer, then open the CD.

Step 2

Create a folder on your desktop (or wherever you want to store your recovered photos) and give it a name you will remember, something like Recovered Photos. This is where you will put the photos you recover from the photo CD.

Step 3

Highlight all of the photos you want to recover, then drag them over to the folder on your desktop you just made. Your computer will copy the photos into the new folder.

If you have a lot of photos to copy, you should see a dialog box showing how long it should take. Once the copying process is complete, you have successfully recovered your photos from the CD.

Recover Photos from a Damaged CD

Step 1

Try opening the CD on another computer if your computer fails to read it.

Clean the disk. An unreadable CD or DVD may just be dirty. Check for scratches if the CD still cannot be read. Polish the shiny surface of the CD with a metal polishing cream like Brasso or a hard car wax like Turtle Wax. These products can fill in the scratches, making it easier for the computer to read the CD. Allow the polish to dry thoroughly before trying again.

If it can be read, recover the photos as you would on a working CD.

Step 2

Use a CD and DVD recovery software, that allows you to recover your photos and files from damaged CDs.You can download a free trial version at You might also try DERescue Data Recovery Master (a free download is available at

Step 3

Employ a data recovery service. Many such services exist, such as We Recover Data ( and Salvage Data ( These services charge a fee, depending on the urgency and extent of work.