Have you ever needed to open your CD or DVD drive (often referred to as your ‘optical drive’) but couldn’t? Bad luck, your favorite movie, video game or music was probably stuck inside it.
Maybe the power to the laptop went out, maybe the drive on your desktop just stopped responding, or maybe the door was stuck or the drive came loose trying hard enough to jam things.
Regardless of what’s going on, or what you think might be going on, there’s no reason to rush out and replace the disk or drive just because the eject button doesn’t do what you’d expect it to do.
Fortunately, one of the following two methods almost always does the trick to open the drive:
How to force eject a disk from the operating system
We’ll start with the easiest way to open the drive: Bypass the physical button on the outside and ask your operating system to forcefully eject the drive. You can only try this if the computer has power and is working. Skip to the next section if this is not the case.
Time Required: Forcing your CD, DVD or BD drive to be ejected via your operating system commands is very easy and will only take a few seconds to attempt.
- Open File Explorer if you’re using Windows 10 or Windows 8. Search for it or use the WIN+X menu to quickly open it.
Open Windows Explorer in earlier versions of Windows. You can do this by finding that option when you right-click the Start button.
- Once open, navigate to the optical drive from the menu on the left. This drive usually has an automatic name based on the disk inside the drive, but there is usually a small disk icon to help identify it.
If you’re having trouble finding it, look for This PC on the left in Windows 10 or 8, or Computer in earlier versions. Click the icon on the left to expand it if it is collapsed.
- Right-click or press and hold on the optical drive and select Eject from the menu that appears up or down.
- The drive bay or disk should rotate down and eject within seconds.
Using a Mac? Similar to the method described above for Windows, locate the disk icon, right-click on it, and then select Eject . Here are more ideas.
If this doesn’t work (Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.), it’s time to get down to business!
How to Open a CD/DVD/BD Drive… With a Clipboard
It sounds strange, yes, but most computer optical drives, including external ones and those you’ll find in your gaming systems like Xbox and PlayStation, have a small hole that is designed as a last resort to open the drive bay.
Time and Tools Required: You will need a single heavy-duty paper clip, not an industrial-sized one, but not one of those flimsy plastic ones either. The whole process will take less than a few minutes and is very easy.
- Unfold the paper clip until there is at least 1 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cm) that is as close to straight as possible.
- Take a close look at your drive. Directly below or above the drive bay door (the part that “ejects” the drive), there should be a small hole.
If you have one of those desktop optical drives where a big door swings open before the drive bay ejects, pull it out with your finger, then find the pinhole.
Some older desktops require the front panel to be opened, sort of like a big “door” to the computer case, to get to this pinhole.
- Insert the paper clip into the pinhole. Inside the drive, directly behind the pinhole, is a small gear that, when turned, will begin to manually open the drive.
- Remove and reinsert the paper clip as many times as necessary to eject the drive bay enough to grasp.
- Slowly pull out the drive cage until it is fully retracted. Be careful not to pull too fast or to continue pulling when you feel resistance.
- Remove the CD, DVD, or BD disc from the drive. Slowly push the drive bay back into the drive until it closes, or press the open/close button if the drive continues to work.
If these steps don’t work, or if you find yourself using the paper clip trick frequently, it may be time to look at other options…
Unlucky? Here is what to do
At this point, there is likely a physical problem with the drive or another part of the computer. Here are some things you should consider doing:
- If your drive is an external drive, unplug and plug back in both the data cable and the power cable.
- Check internally that the power and data cables are firmly connected.
- Please restart your computer and try again.
- Replace drive. Optical drives are relatively cheap – Amazon sells many for around $20 USD.
These are not necessarily in a step-by-step troubleshooting order. The steps you take will largely depend on the type of computer and optical drive you have, as well as your specific situation.