Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mac Mini Stuck DVD

Or "Superdrive Me!" 
Or "Minnie Swallows but Won't Spit!"

OUR FAVOURITE little computer, Minnie - our Mac Mini - decided it was going to play up on us.  Cilla put a DVD in the little thing and when the movie was over, Minnie didn't want to give the disc back.

When we go to eject, the superdrive tries to spit the disc out by it doesn't get out the slot.  The disk get swallowed and mounted again.

This is a little different from the majority of the problems on the net.  If you Google "Mac Mini Stuck DVD" there are many websites that tell you several different ways to eject a disc.  Nearly all of them are software solutions and are no different that pressing the eject button on the keyboard with the exception that some methods can eject a disc that isn't recognized by the computer.  For those that have surfed in to here looking for a way to make your Mac spit out a disc that it simply can't see, try the suggestions given on for a software eject solution.

  • Use Disk Utility to eject. The first and simplest method, if you only want to unmount a single volume on the disk, is to use Disk Utility, located in Applications/Utilities. In Disk Utility, simply select the volume you want to unmount and click Eject.
  • Hold Down the mouse button at startup In some cases holding down a connected mouse button at startup will cause a misbehaving optical drive to eject its media.

Unfortunately, this method will not work if you are using a Bluetooth keyboard.

Also, for Xserve users, make sure that the machine is unlocked (using the included allen wrench) before holding down the mouse key during startup.

  • Boot into Open Firmware and eject. If you have a Mac that will not startup properly and has a stuck disc, try booting into Open Firmware by holding down Command, Option, O key and F key during startup. After booting into Open Firmware, type the command eject-cd.

  • Using the Terminal There are two commands that can be used in the Terminal (located in Applications/Utilities) which can be used to force disk ejection:
The first command to try is drutil tray eject. Simply type in this command and press return.

The other method takes a little more work but can work in instances where the first method fails.

Type the command drutil list into the Terminal and press return . This will provide a list of all currently connected removable devices. [ScreenShot 1-DiskEject] -- connect FireWire/USB drives for this
Use the command drutil tray eject 1
In the above command, the number "1" should be replaced with whatever drive number you obtained in the first step.

  • Enabling an Eject menu. As a side note, you can enable another means of ejecting disks by opening the folder System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras and double-clicking the file "". An eject icon will appear in the menubar that can be used to close and open selected optical drives.

None of these solutions worked for me - I have a hardware problem.  My Mac Mini does recognize that there is a disc in the drive - it just won't give it back!  My problem was going to require a hardware solution.

So I opened Minnie up.  There are plenty of guides on the Internets on how to pop the cover off your Mac Mini.  The screws holding the top casing of the DVD drive are very small but once we found a screwdriver that fit, they came off we were able to lift it up and expose the offending disc.  A little upwards pressure beside the spool under the disc encouraged it to pop off the spool.  We closed the unit back up and within an hour, Cilla had put another disc in the drive and we were back at square one again.

Well, not quite back at square one.  We know the DVD drive is stuffed.  It's only a bit over a year old, about two months out of warranty, and I really don't want to send it off to Apple to be fixed because, aside from the cost, we will be without our media center for weeks.  So, it looks like I'm stepping back into the technician shoes for this project.

Many of the online guides and suggestions for removing a stuck DVD suggest poking a business card, credit card or thin ruler into the slot to 'help' the disk out.  I don't recommend doing this - at all.  The drive has many moving parts made from thin, mild steel.  Poking things into the drive can easliy bend and damage the mechanisms and the scratch the stuck disc.  The drive's laser lens is on the left side of the unit, exactly where the suggestions tell you to poke things in and wiggle around.  Sticking things in your DVD drive that aren't meant to go in there is a bad idea - especially when you can't see what's going on.  Leave that sort of stuff up to the four-year-olds of the world.

This video is pretty long so unless you actually have a Mac Mini that you intend to pull apart - save your bandwidth and skip it.

The drive model in my system is a Pioneer DVR-K06 which I should be able to get a replacement for without too much drama. is usually my first stop for computer parts and accessories.

Wish me luck!

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