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Ask Max: I can't get my G4 iMac to eject a CD...

Asked on 05/27/2009:

I've got an iMac - 17" flat panel. I inserted a CD into the drive after having a DVD in drive with no problem. Now it acts stuck. I pulled down the white door and it looks like maybe the door on the CD/DVD drive didn't close all the way. No CD comes up on the desktop. I can't eject with the keyboard button. What do I do? Is there a paperclip hole or table knife trick?



If you cannot get a CD or DVD to eject by the regular methods, PowerPC-based Mac users can use an Open Firmware emergency eject command. Here is a link to Apple's instructions on how to eject a disc when other options don't work. The important steps are below:

  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Immediately after the startup sound, press and hold the key combination Command-Option-O-F. Note: The Command key has the Apple and () icons on it.
  3. Release the keys when you see a white screen that says "Welcome to Open Firmware."
  4. At the prompt, type: eject cd
  5. Press Return, then wait a few seconds. The disc drive should eject any disc that is present, and "ok" appears behind your command when the action is complete.
  6. Type: Mac-boot
  7. Press Return

If this fails to eject, you will have to open the case of the G4 iMac to gain access to the manual eject pinhole on the face of the optical drive. You may want to seek the help of a professional for that process.


If you have a newer iMac or MacBook (Pro/Air/etc), you will have a slot optical drive. There are still ways you can get out that stuck disc. If you have a USB mouse connected to your computer, try to reset the optical drive's eject mechanism first. Shut down your iMac by choosing "Shut Down" from the Apple Menu in the upper left corner of your desktop. Once the machine is powered off, hold the left mouse button down and re-power your iMac.

Keep the mouse button held down until you reach the login window. You should hear the optical drive perform one full eject cycle. At that point, you can release the mouse button, log in, and insert a disk in the drive.

4 Ways to Eject

You can also try to eject the disc by one of the following methods: 

  1. Left-click the CD/DVD icon on your destop. Choose "Eject."
  2. Press the eject button on your keyboard.
  3. Click on the eject button in your menu bar.
  4. Press Command + E


If you don't have a USB mouse, or if the above doesn't work, reset the SMC. There are complete instructions on how to do that in a PowerMax article called "Two Great Go-To Fixes for a Temperamental Mac" that covers different model machines, but the process for an iMac is as follows:

  1. Shut down machine completely

  2. Unplug it from the power source

  3. Wait 15 seconds

  4. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds

  5. Plug it back in and turn it on

If you experience other problems with your optical drive, I've found success with this: get a can of air from an office store and blow out the optical drive. Believe it or not, sometimes it just gets dusty in there. 

Terminal & Single User

If none of the above work, open Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal), and type: /usr/bin/drutil eject

If that still doesn't work, enter Single User Mode (Restart + Command+S), then type the same as above. To restart afterward, type "reboot."

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