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Mac’s Superdrive won’t read DVDs (or CDs)

Macbook Pro Superdrive
Updated: 27th February 2015

14/06/14 Some readers have contacted Master Your Mac to say that their Superdrive started working - after months of nonsense and frustration - after they read this post and tried the credit card method. Yay!

I was recently burning a whole load of DVDs when my Mac’s Superdrive started playing up. All of a sudden, it refused to recognise any media I inserted, made strange (and quite worrying) ‘grinding’ noises and then (eventually) ejected everything I tried; not just blank media, but stuff I’d burned previously and movies I’d bought. I tried some of the disks in another Mac and all was well.

My first thoughts were that my Superdrive’s lens probably needed a clean, since my iMac is now 2 years old. I couldn’t find my optical drive cleaning disk, so I decided to see if a method I’d heard about some time ago – involving an iPhone cleaning cloth and a credit card – would work.

First I turned off my Mac. Then I wrapped a credit card (a business card will do) in an iPhone cleaning cloth and, keeping a firm grip on the cloth, I gently inserted it into the slot. I wiggled it about a bit from side to side (you don’t have to put it in too far since the lens is only a couple of centimetres inside) and then removed it. I could see some dust on the cloth after I removed it (but you might not).

I did this several times, and guess what? It didn’t work… The Superdrive was still refusing to co-operate.

BUT I have heard, however, that lots of people have had success with this method, so it’s worth a try.

Do use a lint-free cloth otherwise particles can escape into the drive and cause problems. And don’t be tempted to push cotton wool buds into the drive; they will be too thick to get in and out and will certainly leave particles behind (incidentally, you shouldn’t use them in your ears, either).

This morning I bought a new optical lens cleaning DVD and within 5 minutes the whole thing was sorted and I’m burning merrily away once more with a smiling face.

The moral of the story, then, is that if you’re having problems with your Mac’s drive, give it a clean first before you start panicking and thinking the worst. It might well just all be due to a bit of dust.

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