Adventures in copying a CD

Well, I figured coping a CD would be a simple affair. I was wrong.

I had a Data CD that I needed to make a copy of. How hard can that be, right? Well, a buddy online said "just use Disk Utility". 

Cool - so I fired it up.

Now up to this point in time I've been really impressed with the UI on the Mac. Things just kind of worked. Yeah, they took a little getting used to but overall the usability on the machine is well thought out. Apparently an engineer more versed in 0s and 1s designed the UI for this.

You would think a simple button labeled - I don't know - perhaps "Copy" would be intuitive. 

Instead, in order to copy a disk you go into the "Restore" tab. From there you select the Source by dragging it into the Source area. Then you select the destination by dragging it into the Destination area. Only since the Source is also the destination (my MacBook only came with a single drive) it won't let me do that.

So I sat there for a while trying to figure out how the hell I was supposed to do it. Finally, in utter frustration I decided I'd Google teh Interwebs and see if I could find anything. My first hit gave me some decent instructions on how to accomplish the task; a blog entry from Following that worked like a charm.

The next time the Mac dev team needs to think of an application to redo the interface on I highly recommend they take a hard look at Disk Utility. If there's a better way of doing this PLEASE make it more obvious.


bdavidson said…
Here's a question...

Do you know how to copy a CD in XP?

David Alison said…
Sure! You download a copy of BwgBurn (it's open source) and off you go - really simple. And they have this button that's labeled... "Copy Disk". Guess what it does?

Oh yeah, in Vista I can actually burn DVDs - at least that's what MS Help says. I'm not brave enough to try it.

No, XP doesn't even support the native ability to copy a CD or DVD and YES, Mac does, I just wish they'd make it as easy to use as the rest of the system.
Eytan said…
Well, in Mac land you download a copy of Burn (it's open source) and off you go - really simple. ANd they have this tab labeled… "Copy". Guess what it does?

Not trying to be a wise ass (i guess I am being one) but there are plenty of CD burning options - but it is nice to know there is a CD Image burning and managing tool built into the OS (but I guess you need an OS that can natively handle Images)

BTW, I HIGHLY recommend this site:
David Alison said…
@eytan - no worries - I was being a bit of a wise ass too! I was really just frustrated that my Mac made me feel like everything was so easy until I fired up that particular feature.

But you are correct - it's is nice to know it's handled in the OS. I just hope the Apple engineers put a little time into that feature on the next UI round they do.
Xcalybur said…
Eytan is right. Just get "Burn" and use that. It does a really good job. It isn't as full featured as Nero on Windows, but who really needs that kind of power. Oh also, you probably don't know that Windows/most burning software on PC's don't allow you to copy certain disks. This was built into Vista and XP on purpose. If you ever have a problem burning a disk, even a PC disk on your PC try it on the Mac. OS X by default does bit level copying and usually doesn't care what the disk is, it will just copy it.
David Alison said…
Excellent tip Chris - thanks. I'm downloading it now from here:

Source Forge: Burn-OSX
Unknown said…
just so you know, if you place a blank CD in the drive you will get an icon on your desktop that looks like a CD. double click and place whatever you want in the finder window that pops up and then click the gear and click burn.
Unknown said…
well actually like falling forever said, all you have to do when you put in a blank CD, you choose finder, and put what you want to copy onto the CD and then hit burn and you're finish. Never had to do anything else to copy a CD, not sure why you were sent to Disk Utility. or even need the burn software that was recommended.
Anonymous said…
You could just drag and drop the contents of the original cd onto the desktop. Then eject it and insert a blank. Drag the contents from the desktop to the blank. Then select burn from the file menu or drag the disk down to the burn icon in the dock (where the trash would normally be).

Done. No application even needed.
Mike C. said…
I think the built in Apple-way is to use the built in Disk Utility (Applications/Utilities).

This will show you all of the drives on your system including the disk in the dvd drive

Select it the Session, then from the File menu pick New > Disk image from disk#

This will make a DMG. Then eject your original, insert a blank and choose Burn from the Images menu which will allow you to burn that DMG or any DMG you have.

Not exactly intuitive, but doable.
David Alison said…
@MikeC: My only beef with the way this works is... with the way this works :-)

All of the capabilities are there, I just want a UI that is as easy to use as the rest of my Mac.
Unknown said…
Hi David,

I can only assume when you were directed to Disk Utility the idea would be that you might:
1. Insert the disk.
2. Click create image.
3. Name it however you like.
4. Click on that image from the menu on the left and click burn.

Sometimes it's really nice to be able to keep these images on your harddrive instead of fishing around for the cd (or if you're like me risking scratching and/or destroying it) and in Mac land as you probably know, downloads often come in these image like .dmg files so I think the average user should be nearly as familiar with images as with folders.

Really interesting blog by the way.
Unknown said…
oops sorry, i just realised MikeC already said that.
please disregard.
Anonymous said…
I had exactly the same trouble as you, David. Couldn't figure it out for the life of me! Disk Utility is very cryptic. I ended up finding Burn and installing it...

A warning to those considering Burn - when you burn a disk the default format is Mac (HFS+). Its not labelled as a format so a Mac noobie like me overlooked it and burned a couple of DVDs. Of course, when I tried to use the DVDs on my Windows PC they showed up empty! Had to redo the burn using Joliet format.

I like the suggested method of inserting a new CD/DVD and dragging files/folders onto the destop icon that appears. Haven't tried it yet, but sounds easy.

Am loving my Macbook Pro - 2 months now and learning all the time after using PCs for 19 years.

Is there a way to stop all documents you view on the web from appearing permanently in your Downloads folder?

Very telling blog. Don't know where you find the time!

Allen - New Zealand
David Alison said…
@Allen: I don't know where I find the time either ;-)

I am one of those people that require very little sleep - 5 or 6 hours is enough for me. That's likely a big part of it.

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