Using Disks and Discs

Working with hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and other similar types of storage devices is an important part of using Mac OS X. The following bullets provide information about some useful disk-related tasks:

  • You can control whether mounted disk and volume icons are automatically shown on the desktop using the Finder Preferences window (select Finder, Preferences and click the General tab). Check the "Show these items on the Desktop" check boxes to show icons on the desktop, or uncheck them to keep those icons from appearing on the desktop. (If you chose not to have disk icons mounted on the desktop, you can access the mounted disks and volumes using the Computer folder and the Places sidebar.)

  • You can eject removable disks by dragging them to the Trash; selecting them and selecting File, Eject; pressing graphics/mac.gif-E; using the contextual menu Eject command; or using the Eject icon that you can place on the Finder toolbar. You can also eject any ejectable item by clicking the Eject button that appears next to that item in the Places sidebar.


    When you select a mounted volume (such as a CD), the Trash icon on the Dock becomes an eject symbol to indicate you are unmounting a volume rather than deleting it.

  • To configure the action that happens when you insert CDs or DVDs, use the CDs & DVDs pane of the System Preferences application. You can configure what happens when you insert blank media or when you insert "full" discs. When you configure what occurs when you insert "full" discs, your options are to have a selected application open (such as DVD Player when you insert a video DVD), to cause an AppleScript to run, or to do nothing (which Mac OS X calls Ignore).

  • To erase a disk under Mac OS X, you use the Disk Utility application (Applications/Utilities). Open the application, select the disk you want to erase, click the Erase tab, select the format on the Volume Format pop-up menu, enter the volume name, and click Erase.

  • Disk Images is a file type that mimics the behavior of a disk. When you open a disk image, it acts just as if it were a real disk. Disk images are most commonly used to distribute applications. When a disk image is mounted, you can open it as you would a physical disk, eject it, and so on.

To learn how to configure the action when you insert blank media, see Chapter 24, "Understanding and Using Data Storage Devices," p. 781.

To learn how to use the Disk Utility to format and partition a disk, see "Initializing and Partitioning a Hard Drive," p. 786.

To learn more about disk images, see "Installing Mac OS X Applications," p. 145.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Life