Apple's SuperDrive is a special case because along with CD-RW and CD-R discs, it can also burn DVD-R discs that can be used to record data and can be mounted on the desktop or played in consumer DVD players when you burn them using iDVD or another DVD-creating application. When it was first released, this drive was available only on the top-of-the-line Power Mac G4. Now, this drive is also available on high-end iMacs as well as all Power Mac G4s except the lowest-end.
Just as with CD-RW drives, third-party DVD-R/DVD-RW hardware and software are available. However, because Apple's DVD-R technology works so well and is included with Mac hardware and as part of Mac OS X, Apple's technology is the focus of this section.
One downside to this technology is the expense of DVD-R discs, which currently cost about $5 per disc. Of course, when you compare that cost on a per-MB basis, DVD-Rs seem not to be so expensive after all.
Creating a data DVD is very similar to creating a data CD, except that you can store up to 4.7GB of data on a single disc (compared to about 750MB on a CD).
First, configure your Mac for the action you want it to take when you insert a blank DVD-R disc.
Open the System Preferences utility and click on the CDs & DVDs icon to open that pane. Use the "When you insert a blank DVD" pop-up menu to select the action you want your Mac to take when you put a blank DVD into your machine. You have the following options:
Ask what to do When you insert a blank DVD, your Mac will prompt you and provide a list of possible actions from which you can choose. The Action pop-up menu contains a set of choices similar to those on the "When you insert a blank DVD" pop-up menu on the DVDs & DVDs pane, such as Open Finder and Open iDVD. From this dialog box, you can also name the DVD by entering its name in the Name field. You can make the action you select on the Action pop-up menu be the default (checking the "Make this action the default" check box in the prompt window does the same thing as selecting that option in the DVDs & DVDs pane). The Eject, Ignore, and OK buttons in the dialog box do what you expect (eject the disc, ignore it, or implement the changes you make, respectively). Because this option provides you with the most flexibility, I recommend that you choose this option. However, for specific situations, the other choices might be more appropriate for you.
Open Finder When this option is the default or if you select it in the prompt, the blank DVD is mounted and the Finder becomes the active application. You can then use the Finder to name the DVD, add contents, and burn it. If you usually burn DVDs from the Finder and don't like to be interrupted by the prompt, this option is probably for you.
Open iDVD When a disc is mounted, iDVD becomes the active application. If you mostly burn DVDs using iDVD, this setting can make the process more convenient.
Open Disk Copy You can use the Disk Copy application to burn DVDs from disk images. When this option is selected and you insert a blank DVD, the Disk Copy application opens and you are prompted to locate the image you want to burn to the DVD. This option is most useful when you always create disc images before you burn a DVD.
Open other application If you choose this option, you will be prompted to select the application you want to open. That application will then be opened when you insert a blank DVD. This is the option you want if you use a third-party DVD-burning application.
Run script With this option, an AppleScript that you select is launched when you insert a blank DVD. After you select the script you want to launch, it will appear on the "When you insert a blank DVD" pop-up menu. If you have a custom burn process that is implemented through an AppleScript, this is the option you want to choose.
Ignore When you insert a blank DVD, your Mac takes no action. In fact, this disc is not even mounted in the Finder. You have to manually take some action later, such as opening an application that can burn DVDs, to do something with the disc. If you prefer to keep blank DVDs in your Mac and don't want to be interrupted when you insert them, this might be the option you want to choose.
To burn a data DVD, you need to have lots of hard disk space available on your startup drive. In fact, you should have at least 5GB of free space before attempting to burn a data DVD.
After you have configured your Mac, burning DVDs from the Finder is very straightforward, as the following steps demonstrate (these steps assume that you have selected the Ask me what to do option; however, using the Open Finder option works similarly).
Insert a DVD-R disc into the drive. You will be prompted to select an action.
Choose Open Finder on the Action pop-up menu.
Enter the name of the DVD you are burning in the Name field. You can name DVDs just as you name other volumes on your Mac, such as hard drives. The one area of caution should be if you intend to share the disc with other users. If so, you should keep the name short (eight characters or fewer) and avoid spaces or special characters to avoid causing problems on other computers.
Click OK. You move into the Finder and you will see that the DVD you just named is mounted.
Drag the files you want on the DVD to the mounted DVD-R disc, just like any other volume to which you can copy or move files. The files will be copied to the DVD and you will see the standard move/copy progress window.
Arrange and organize the files as you want them to be on the DVD.
Because burning DVDs from the Finder is a single session, you can burn to a DVD-R disc only once. After it has been burned, you won't be able to add files to it. Make sure you have all the files on the DVD that you want before you burn it.
Select the DVD and choose Finder, Burn Disc.
In the resulting dialog box, select the speed at which you want to burn the disc. In most cases, Maximum is the best choice. However, if you are having problems burning discs at your drive's maximum speed, you can open the Burn Speed pop-up menu and choose a slower speed.
Click Burn. You will see a progress window as the data is prepared and the disc is recorded. When the process is complete, the DVD will be mounted on the desktop and ready to use.
To create a DVD for video, images, and other multimedia content, you can use Apple's iDVD application, which enables you to drag and drop QuickTime movies, images, and other multimedia files to create a custom DVD, including DVD motion menus.
To learn how to use iDVD, see "Creating Your Own DVDs," p. 591.
Apple also offers DVD Studio Pro, which is a professional-quality DVD creation application.
DVD-R drives are currently in their infancy and there are many formats competing for dominance. If you are considering a third-party DVD-R drive, make sure that it is compatible with iDVD if that is the software you want to use with it?not all drives are compatible. Eventually, DVD-RW drives will likely take the place of CD-RW drives, but for the next few years, you can expect some turbulence in this area.