The MacBook Air and the new Mac mini come without an optical drive. In the future, more Mac models will most likely also come without one. But getting along without CD/DVD drive is easy if you use USB flash drives, external hard drives, online music and video services and ways of streaming video to your TV. You can also get an external drive or share a drive on another Mac.
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s episode, let’s look at surviving without a DVD drive. So some of the new Macs, Macbook Airs and the Mac Minis come without an optical drive so you have no way of using DVD’s or CD’s with those Macs and probably there’s more to come. More laptops probably won’t have these optical drives and in the future who knows, we could be seeing an entire Mac line that doesn’t have optical drives. So, what do you do if you don’t have one? So one of your first concerns maybe how do you get software? Well originally of course software came on physical media; floppy discs, then CD’s, then DVD’s. But now most software is downloaded and the Mac App Store makes that very easy. Third party software was always pretty easy to download from the internet. It’s been that way for more than a decade. But, even the big box software, stuff from Adobe and Microsoft can now be downloaded from their websites rather than purchasing physical media. So, there’s really nothing that you can’t get by downloading over the internet. You don’t need to have an optical drive to get software anymore. Your next concern may be media, getting music and video into your Mac. Now we’ve had lots of years, about a decade where we could basically rip our CD’s into MP3′s and put them on our Macs. So, for the most part this isn’t a problem anymore and all new music is of course available online. So purchasing online using either ITunes or using a service where you could subscribe to it like say Spotify, seems to now be the way that music is going. So you don’t really need a physical media for music anymore either. Video’s kinda the same way. A lot of video can now be done online. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime allow you to watch stuff online and you don’t have to have the DVD. In ITunes you can rent and purchase videos as well. Now how about archiving and storing data and transferring data from different computers not on the same network? Well the best way to do that now is for small amounts of data with USB flash drives. Now even a cheap, small USB flash drive could hold a lot more than a DVD can and it’s much quicker to write to and read to and can be reused. DVD’s usually can’t unless you have a DVD rewritable and it’s much easier to use a USB flash drive for that. For larger things like say archiving lots of files say you want to archive your old videos or old photos, things like that, you can do that on an external drive. External drives are very cheap to get now too. For a hundred bucks you can get about a terabyte which is way more than it can hold with a box full of CD’s or DVD’s, so getting an external drive to archive things to might be a good idea. An optical media wasn’t really good for this anyway. After about ten years optical media starts to degrade. I’ve got a bunch of old CD’s, ten years old and now can’t be read by anything. You can actually see the cracks in the media. One thing DVD’s were used for is to be able to show video to people that are not sitting around your computer. You would burn a bunch of video to a DVD and then sit comfortably in your living room and watch it through your DVD player on the television. Well this could be done now in a variety of different ways. A cheap way for instance is to get a $99 Apple TV, hook that up to your television and then you can stream video from your Macs right to the TV. You can do it in high definition. Something DVD’s couldn’t do before. You can also share things online so you can send things to services like YouTube. You could even make thing private on YouTube so only your friends and family can see your vacation videos. Now if you still need to use your optical drive for something there are two things you should know about. The first is that you can share an optical drive on another computer in your network. So, say you keep around an old IMac or Mac Mini that’s got a DVD drive in it. You can actually access the DVD on another Mac, say a MacBook Air on that same network. See episode 591 to see how that’s done. And of course you always have the option to purchase an external optical drive. Apple’s got one for about 100 bucks. There are even some cheaper third party ones. They just plug in via USB and you’ve got all the functionality there. This is actually a really cool thing because then you could still say rip music and movies onto your MacBook Air but then when you travel you’re not taking the weight of an optical drive that you’re not going to use with you and carrying it around everywhere. So whether you like it or not I’m certain that we’re heading to a future that doesn’t include optical drives in our computers. So it’s important to get to know how to get along without them. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.