Now that Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook Air, and Retina MacBook Pro have moved away from carrying internal SuperDrives, owners of these newer Macs will possibly get more usage out of the Remote Disc feature than ever before. For those unfamiliar, Remote Disc does pretty much what it sounds like, allowing one Mac to share and access another Macs DVD/CD drive as if it was their own. This lets Macs without disc drives install software from DVD’s, import CD’s into iTunes, rip DVD’s, and even burn CD’s and DVD’s.
Remote Disc is easy and seamless, and works across a wide range of OS X versions. For example, a brand new MacBook Air or Retina MacBook Pro running the latest version of OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion can access the SuperDrive of a much older Mac running Snow Leopard, as we will demonstrate in the walkthrough outlined below.
Enable Remote Disc on the Mac with the CD/DVD SuperDrive
- Open System Preferences and choose “Sharing”
- Check the box next to “Remote Disc” to enable the service (note that OS X 10.6 will label it as “DVD or CD Sharing” instead)
- Place a CD or DVD into the drive that needs to be accessible from the other Mac
Now that Remote Disc sharing is enabled, the remote DVD or CD can be accessed as if it was an internal superdrive. If Mac preferences are set to allow for drives to show on the desktop, the DVD will be immediately visible there.
Access the Remote CD/DVD Drive on the Mac without a Superdrive
- If CDs and DVDs are set to appear on desktop, look there to immediately find the shared disc… otherwise…
- From the OS X Finder, open any window and navigate to the root directory to find “Remote Disc” or the DVD/CD name itself
When the Remote Disc is requested, access must be granted by the remote machine by default, though that setting can be disabled on the Mac with a superdrive. Afterwards, the disc is mounted and accessible as if the Mac had it’s very own DVD drive.
This is a fantastic feature and it beats paying for an external SuperDrive if you happen to have an older Mac with a DVD/CD drive laying around anyway. It’s also an excellent way to get around problems with Macs that have failed or malfunctioning DVD drives.
Impressively, Remote Disc can also let a Mac borrow a DVD drive from a Windows PC in much the same way as Mac to Windows file sharing, though that will be a topic for another article.