Using CD/DVD sharing on any Mac

Despite the default limitation of only being able to use shared DVDs and CDs on Macs that ship without an optical drive, you can enable shared optical drive use on other Macs.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
2 min read

Apple's "remote disc" feature is implemented in the OS so computers that do not have optical drives (specifically, the MacBook Air) can access drives from Macs or PCs on the local network to install software. This is a convenient feature, but while sharing can be enabled on any Mac by clicking the box next to "DVD or CD Sharing" in the "Sharing" system preferences, Apple has limited its use to MacBook Air systems only. Despite this, you can easily get around this restriction and allow any Mac to view shared DVDs or CDs.

Besides being fun to try out, the use of CD and DVD sharing provides you with alternatives for reading discs that will not read in the internal disc drive. Sometimes optical media will not load in drives, mainly because the drive is dirty or failing, but also because the media is printed or burned in a way that is incompatible with the lasers and firmware of the drive. Normally, people can use another computer to create a disk image of the CD on another computer, copy it to the current computer, and mount it for reading; however, by enabling CD/DVD sharing you can do this directly. To do this, run the following commands in the Terminal, and then reboot the computer:

defaults write com.apple.NetworkBrowser EnableODiskBrowsing -bool true
defaults write com.apple.NetworkBrowser ODSSupported -bool true

Unfortunately, since this technology basically turns the optical drive into a shared folder, it does not allow for special or advanced drive functionality such as burning. In order to do this, you will need to either use the internal drive or create a disk image to burn elsewhere. To undo the settings and turn off your computer's ability to use shared optical drives, repeat the commands in the Terminal using "false" instead of "true".

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