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Best External CD/DVD Drive for Mac in 2021 - Review & FAQs for External DVD Drive

As Apple kills off the optical drive in its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to maintain super-thin profiles, users are left with no ways to play or rip DVDs on Mac directly. However, the removal of DVD drive doesn't mean blocked access to DVD discs on Mac. Despite the lack of built-in optical drive, there are workarounds available, among which the USB external DVD drive for Mac maybe the easiest.

In this article, we'll introduce the best USB external CD/DVD drives for MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, and Mac mini.

A Great Way to Protect Your DVDs and Prolong the Life of DVD Drive

DVDs are fragile. And, frequent reading of disc will cause your DVD drive's laser brightness to attenuate and weaken its ability to read disc. Therefore, we suggest DVD owners copy DVDs to computer so that they can watch movies without DVDs and DVD drive. To do this, you can use MacX DVD Ripper. This software can bypass DVD region codes and DVD protections, and convert your DVD discs into ISO, MP4, MKV, MOV, AVI, M4V, 3GP, and more formats. It will create a high-quality DVD copy at super fast speed.

Now, let's connect an external DVD drive with Mac, and free download the lightweight MacX DVD Ripper to make a digital copy of your DVD without hassle.

1. Apple USB SuperDrive- $79.00

Customer Rating:

Technical details:

  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 2.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Formats: CD, DVD
  • Optical Storage Write Speed: 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD±R) / 6x (DVD±R DL)
  • Optical Storage Read Speed: 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
  • Hardware Interface: USB 2.0
  • Connections: USB-A
  • Compatibility: compatible with Mac models from 2008 and later that don't have a built-in optical drive. (Note: MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models with USB-C ports require a USB-C to USB adapter (sold separately) to use Apple USB SuperDrive.)

Apple's USB SuperDrive is the Mac external hard drive designed to complement MacBook Pro/Air. It is compatible with Macbook ,Macbook air, Macbook Pro, iMac or Mac mini via a single USB cable to help read DVD/CD and write to CD-R and DVD-R discs. With this portable disc drive for Mac, you can play DVDs, rip discs, burn home movies to DVD, extract music from CD etc. The external ODD has 8x faster DVD writing speed.

Having problem with Apple USB SuperDrive? Read our guide How to Fix SuperDrive Not Working on Mac and How to Fix Superdrive Not Recognize DVD

Best external dvd drive for mac - Apple USB SuperDrive
Best external dvd drive for mac - Apple USB SuperDrive

2. Samsung Ultra-Slim Black Optical Drive - $37.60

Customer Rating:

Technical details:

  • Product Dimensions: 5.85 x 5.74 x 0.55 inches
  • Formats: CD, DVD
  • Optical Storage Write Speed: 8x (DVD±R, DVD+RW), 6x (DVD±R DL, DVD-RW), 5x (DVD-RAM), 24x (CD-R, CD-RW)
  • Optical Storage Read Speed: 8x
  • Hardware Interface: USB 2.0 (3.0 compatible)
  • Compatibility: Mac OS X

Samsung's ODD has a ultra thin design advertised as the thinnest external optical drive for Mac. It's fully compatible Mac OS X. It's able to read and burn various DVD and CD formats, with the writing speeds claimed to range from 6x for dual-layer DVDs to 24x for CD-RWs. A big plus is the USB2.0 and USB 3.0 compatibility, while no Blu-ray support is a major disadvantage. Anyway, it's one of best external DVD drive for Mac picked for DVDs.

Best external DVD/CD drive for Mac from Samsung
Best external DVD/CD drive for Mac from Samsung

3. LG Ultra Slim Portable External Drive- $25.99

Customer Rating:

Technical details:

  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Formats: CD, DVD
  • Optical Storage Write Speed: 8x (DVD±R, DVD±RW), 6x (DVD±R DL), 5x (DVD-RAM), 24x (CD-R)
  • Optical Storage Read Speed: 8x (DVD±R, DVD±R DL, DVD±RW, DVD-ROM),6x(DVD-RAM), 4x (DVD-Video[CSS Compliant Disc]), 24x (CD-R, RW, ROM, CD-DA DAE)
  • Hardware Interface: USB 2.0 (3.0 compatible)
  • Compatibility: Mac os, Windows 10

LG is the best Mac portable DVD drive that's alternative to Apple USB SuperDrive but at a lower price. It can read and burn DVD and CD on Mac and PC, also delivering 8x max DVD writing speed. This external disc drive for Mac has two distinct features: first, it supports M-Disc which will protect the data and makes it exist longer than standard DVDs; second, it adopts Silent Play technology that can make the DVD playback process less noise than other external Mac ODDs.

LG external DVD writer drive for Mac
LG external DVD writer drive for Mac

4. VersionTech External DVD/CD Drive for Mac - $25.99

Customer Rating:

Technical details:

  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 7.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Formats: CD, DVD
  • Optical Storage Write Speed: 8X Speed +R 4.7GB; 8X Speed +R(DL); 6X Speed +RW 4.7GB; 24X Speed CD-R; 16X Speed CD-RW
  • Optical Storage Read Speed: 24X Speed CD-ROM Reading
  • Connections: USB Type-C
  • Hardware Interface: USB 3.0
  • Compatibility: Mac OS, Windows

This ODD is especially designed to play CD/DVD and burn CD (only CD supported) on MacBook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, other ultrabook, PC, laptop via USB. The external optical drive for Mac has superfast speed to read and write disc, ranging from 6x for DVD+RW to 24x for CD-ROM. However, there are some design flaws, for example, the lack of an eject button makes it inconvenient to remove the disc if it gets jammed.

Best USB 3.0 external DVD drive for Mac
Best USB 3.0 external DVD drive for Mac

5. Pioneer Slim Mac External DVD Drive for Blu-ray - $89

Customer Rating:

Technical details:

  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.55 x 5.2 inches
  • Formats: CD, DVD, Blu-ray, BDXL
  • Optical Storage Write Speed: 8x(DVD±R, DVD+RW), 6x(DVD±R[Double Layer], DVD-RW, BD-R ), 2x(BD-RE), 24x(CD-R, CD-RW)
  • Optical Storage Read Speed: 8x(DVD±R, DVD±RW, DVD-ROM [Dual/Single]), 6x(BD-R, BD-ROM, BD-RE SL/DL), 4x(BD-RE TL), 24x(CD-R, CD-RW, CD-ROM)
  • Hardware Interface: USB 3.0
  • Compatibility: Mac OS, Windows

The four previously mentioned options are best external CD/DVD drives for macOS, but they all don't support Blu-ray. If you handle with Blu-ray discs a lot, Pioneer is a good choice. As the external BD drive for Mac and Windows, it accepts BDXL, Blu-ray, DVD, and CD media with speeds up to 8x DVD disc burning and ripping. The Blu-ray ripping is slower with some noise. It price is much higher than other external DVD drives for Mac, but it's quite affordable compared with other BD drive competitors.

Pioneer external optical drive for Mac
Pioneer external optical drive for Mac

Frequently Asked Questions for External DVD Drive

1. Will any external DVD drive work with Mac?

Yes. There are many external DVD drives that can work with Mac, such as the five devices we mentioned above. While choosing an external DVD drive for Mac, you need to check its compatible operating system. Some external DVD drive works with both Windows and Mac, while some are only compatible with Windows or Mac.

2. How to choose an external DVD drive for Mac?

There are a few factors you need to consider while choosing an external optical drive for Mac, including compatibility, supported disc format, reading/writing speed, price, noise, size, build quality, and connectors.

3. How to connect an external DVD drive to Mac?

It's easy. Simply connect your external DVD drive to a USB port on your Mac. Check how to connect the Apple USB SuperDrive to Mac >>

4. How can I get my Mac to recognize my external DVD drive?

Older Mac computers that come with internal DVD drives do not recognize external DVD drive. But if the internal drive fails, you can also force your Mac to recognize external DVD drive by editing a system file called com.apple.Boot.plist.

Step 1. The file path is: Mac HD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/com.apple.Boot.plist. Before any further, make a copy of this file in case something goes wrong.

Step 2. Open com.apple.Boot.plist with text editor. On line 8, enter mbasd=1 between <string> and </string>, like this <string>mbasd=1</string>. And then, save this file.

Step 3. Restart your Mac, connect your external DVD drive, and then your Mac should be able to recognize it.

5. Why won't my external DVD drive work on my Mac?

There are many causes for external DVD drive for Mac not working, including:

  1. The external DVD drive isn't properly connected. Check if it is wobbly or loose.
  2. The cable could be at fault. Try a different cable.
  3. The USB port is damaged. Try connecting the DVD drive to another port.
  4. macOS issue. Restarting your Mac may fix it.
  5. The external DVD drive might be incorrectly formatted. It might only interact with Windows. Check if your external DVD drive is compatible with Mac.
  6. Your Mac isn't formatted to display the external DVD drive on the desktop. Go to Finder menu -> Preferences -> General and check External Drives to make sure that from now on it shows up on your desktop too.
  7. Your external DVD drive is broken.

6. How to rip a DVD on Mac with an external DVD drive?

If you want to play a DVD disc, a built-in or external DVD drive is necessary. But after ripping DVD, you can play movies without the need of DVD drive and DVD player software.

You simply need to use a piece of DVD ripping software like MacX DVD Ripper Pro to turn massive DVD collection into digital files for storing on your Mac, external hard drive, cloud, and more.

Main features of MacX DVD Ripper Pro:

  1. It converts DVD to MP4, MOV, AVI, MKV, ISO, etc. Over 350 output profile formats are provided.
  2. It supports all DVD types like new DVD, 99-title DVD, damaged & unplayable DVD.
  3. It has world's fastest DVD ripping speed. Support hardware acceleration. 5 minutes for a full disc.
  4. Excellent quality reserved.

Step 1: Free download and install the DVD ripper on Mac.

Step 2: Connect external disc drive to Mac, and insert the DVD you want to rip.

Step 3: Click the DVD Disc button on MacX DVD Ripper Pro and select your DVD to load.

Step 4: Choose output format from the pop-up output profile window. To play DVD disc on Mac, MP4 or MOV are both good formats as they're compatible with Mac default QT player or other programs.

Rip DVD on Mac with external DVD drive
Rip DVD on Mac with external DVD drive

Step 5: Click Browse to save the output file and click RUN to begin DVD ripping. After a few minutes, the DVD movie will be saved in your computer and then you can watch those movies without taking an external DVD drive for Mac computers every time.

Disclaimer: The software developer calls for copying or ripping DVD under the concept of Fair Use and does not encourage any illegal reproduction or distribution of copyrighted content. Please abide by the local DVD copyright law before doing it.

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