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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac Other Hardware
Since the launch of the MacBook Air, Apple produces a nice external optical drive, which unfortunately does not work on every machine; only MacBook Air and some Mac mini models. It was long believed it was due to a hardware limitation, but it is actually due to Mac OS X, as we shall see.

First of all, why use the Apple drive? There are several reasons. The first one is that it is quite nice-looking. It also uses a slot-in, more convenient than fragile drawers, it can play a DVD without changing the DVD drive, as it is considered as 'Apple-supplied drive' by the system and responds to the Eject button on Apple keyboards.

It also has two drawbacks: it is quite expensive and its USB cable is ridiculously short and non-removable. But finally, I found it to be more practical than the other drives I tested.

I could not test the handling on many machines; I had a 2009 17-inch MacBook Pro (when working), a 2006 MacBook (which does not work) and a 2010 Mac mini on which the hack is unnecessary. The tests were carried out under OS X Lion, but should work on Leopard and Snow Leopard.

As far as I know, the easiest way to check if the hack is possible is starting up the Mac while pressing the Option key with the drive connected; if the player turns on, it should work.

For the modification itself, a file editor (I use Hex Fiend) and a tool that simplifies the update of .kext files are needed. I use Kext Utility (search for the correct version for your OS version), but it can be done by hand or with others.

We have to edit a driver file, as follows:
  • Go to /System/Library/Extensions/, right-click on AppleStorageDrivers.kext and choose 'Show package contents.'
  • Then go to /Contents/PlugIns/, right-click on AppleUSBODD.kext and choose 'Show package contents' on that file.
  • Then go to /Contents/MacOS/ and edit the file AppleUSBODD with Hex Fiend.
  • By searching the file, you should find two chains of this type: Supported Mac Models MacBookAir Macmini Macmini1 Macmini2.
  • You must replace one of the values by your model identifier. In my case, I simply replaced MacBookAir by MacBookPro to keep a file of the same length. Pay attention to spaces, do not put any between MacBook and Pro. Normally, just use the beginning of the identifier and it should be enough, so : MacBook, MacPro, iMac, etc. Also pay attention to capital letters.
  • Once it is done on the two chains, just save and replace the original file AppleStorageDrivers.kext by the new. If everything is OK, Mac OS X will ask for a password.
  • Then launch Kext Utility to clear caches and repair permissions, and restart the Mac. If everything went well -- this was the case on my MacBook Pro -- the external drive should work right away.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. This is where I throw out the big caution flag and remind you that editing .kext files can render your Mac non-bootable. I've done this two or three times in ten years and they went fine but I made sure to have a complete system backup around before attempting it. If you haven't done this before you might want to wait and read the comments of those who try it to make sure there aren't any pitfalls.

I also have to say it's kind of silly for Apple to put this kind of artificial restriction on the hardware.]
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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac | 31 comments | Create New Account
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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: Dandu on Nov 11, '11 08:24:51AM
My blog with this hint For me, it's work, just a thing : you must make the modification with every minor révision of OS X (like 10.7.2)

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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: LazarX on Nov 11, '11 08:51:15AM

Instead of the very possible dangers of monkeying with the system files, perhaps the drive can be used with an application like TOAST instead?



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: CyborgSam2011 on Nov 11, '11 12:22:47PM

There's a much easier way to do this without hacking OS files. This works for me on Lion and Snow Leopard, I haven't tested older OSes.

The trick is to add "mbasd=1" to the Kernel Flags in com.apple.Boot.plist. com.apple.Boot.plist exists by default in Lion, but not in earlier OSes.

There are multiple ways to edit a plist, I'll use TextEdit since every user has it. Since Lion already has com.apple.Boot.plist there are two subsets of instructions, one for Lion and one for all other OS Xes.

Bottom line: com.apple.Boot.plist will look the text between the starred lines when done:

*****************************************
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
<key>Kernel Flags</key>
<string>mbasd=1</string>
</dict>
</plist>
*****************************************

First, launch TextEdit.

--------------
For Lion:
Copy /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/com.apple.Boot.plist to the Desktop. Drag the file onto TextEdit's icon in the Dock. The file will look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
<key>Kernel Flags</key>
<string></string>
</dict>
</plist>

Add the text "mbasd=1" (no quotes, no extra spaces) between <string> and </string>. It should look like the text between the starred lines above. Save and close the file.
--------------
For Snow Leopard and earlier:
In TextEdit create a new document, then copy all the text above into the document. Save it to the Desktop using the name com.apple.Boot.plist and close the document.
--------------

Finally: Copy the file to /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration and authenticate when asked. Restart, the SuperDrive will now work.



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: alexburke on May 17, '12 01:59:06PM
sudo nvram boot-args="mbasd=1"

There, fixed that for you.

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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: Rangdrol on May 30, '12 03:57:38PM

Hi

Are you saying that if I type that in terminal, it will make my Mac Mini DVD optical drive work? Thank you!!



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: Black_Koga on Sep 16, '14 07:52:23AM

This simple fix using Terminal worked like a charm! You rock dude! Thanks for all your help!



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: dlc60 on Jan 12, '13 03:09:18PM

I followed CyborgSam2011 hint about the com.apple.Boot.plist file, but found that TextEdit didn't work so well, it didn't want to do a simple ascii file. On my Snow Leopard system (iMac 24) I found that the file was already there so I did a sudo vi com.apple.Boot.plist from a terminal window and adjusted the file and rebooted.

It worked! Usually. Some DVD's do play, at least one won't.

Good job man!

DLC



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: aMacUzur on Nov 11, '11 01:08:59PM

There are also other reasons not to use these drives. In my experience with about 10 drives over 10+ years, I've found that an external tray-style Pioneer drive will likely

  • be supported as a native drive
  • be less expensive
  • be meaningfully faster
  • produce more reliable burns
  • have a longer life
  • support a wider range of formats
In addition, such a drive can be interfaced via firewire.

To quantify things, much of my experience comes from the fact that we do network-based backups to DVD-sized encrypted disk images then burn them ('though we recently switched to Blu-Ray). As such, I've burned hundreds of full disks per year.

Similar drives by other manufacturers may yield the same benefits, but I've only used Pioneer.



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: CyborgSam2011 on Nov 11, '11 01:48:20PM

There's one very good reason to use the MacBook Air SuperDrive vs 3rd party drives: Apple's DVD Player app will ONLY work with Apple external DVD drives.

I've tried VLC and others, they just don't navigate menus & play DVDs as well as Apple's.

I just out an OWC Data Doubler in my MacBook Pro (replaces the SuperDrive with a hard drive/SSD). I bought the MacBook Air SuperDrive to watch DVDs, it stays at home. I put my old SuperDrive in an OWC case and will use it at work where I need to burn, but never watch, DVDs.



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: Perry Joseph on Mar 26, '12 06:08:59AM

Interesting concept about Pioneer optical drives, except I am not sure why my trusted DVR 112 worked nicely with 10.4.11 Powermac G4 and not with my Mac Mini and X10.6.8.



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: metiure on Nov 12, '11 03:10:44AM

Kext Utility?



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: wallybear on Nov 14, '11 02:04:06AM

It's an utility you can find in "hackintosh" sites, as it's used very often in that "world"...

Edited on Nov 14, '11 02:04:30AM by wallybear



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: NipRing on Dec 22, '11 04:44:51PM

CyborgSam2011...that works perfectly! I've been looking for a way to add that drive to my MacBook Pro (so i can yank the internal dvd and add a SSD) for quite a while.
Thank you soo much!! I registered here just to post this comment. Thanks!!



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: luz on Jan 08, '12 04:56:36AM
@CyborgSam2011: would have been nice to give credit to the origin of this hint :-) After all I even credited your comment...

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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: CyborgSam2011 on Jan 30, '12 05:06:05PM

luz: You're right, I should have given you credit. I meant to put the link in and simply forgot. Many thanks for figuring this out!

It worked for awhile with DVD Player, but not DVD Player reports there isn't a valid DVD drive attached even through the SuperDrive is working OK....



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: luz on Jan 31, '12 12:40:34AM
Thanks! :-) Regarding DVD player - I've long replaced it with VLC, which works fine to play DVDs from any drive (internal, external, originally Apple or not) connected to a Mac. And it plays many other video formats as well.

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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: CyborgSam2011 on Jan 31, '12 07:03:40AM

I use VLC, but I find that it doesn't update the screen as smoothly as possible. It also stutters a bit too much, especially after being paused.

i found a hack to modify DVDPlayback.framework to work with external drives, I'll try that soon and report back if it worked.



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: sibir on Mar 24, '12 09:26:52PM

I added mbasd=1 to com.apple.Boot.plist on my early 2009 mini (Macmini3,1) and attached the MBA SD directly to the mini. It shows up correctly in the USB tree and announces the following current needs:

Current Available (mA): 500
Current Required (mA): 500
Extra Operating Current (mA): 600

I find the last line interesting, but what does it mean? It shows up only when connected directly to mini, not when connected to a hub. It plays DVDs just fine, connected directly and via a hub. U suspect burning, especially at higher speeds will require more than 500 mA. Has anybody tried that out?



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: alexburke on May 17, '12 01:57:12PM
Really? No.

In fact, don't even touch the filesystem; just do this in Terminal:
sudo nvram boot-args="mbasd=1"

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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: PetePz on Aug 03, '12 11:43:19PM

Thanks to the sudo nvram boot-args="mbasd=1" command line!
It works under Mountain Lion too. I had changed my internal hard disk on my MacBookPro8,2 15" to the Superdrive bay and installed a Samsung 830 SSD in the HD bay. I installed Mountain Lion two days after release on the SSD and typed in the above command on terminal (the first time I have done something like this). After restart, I could use the MacBook Air Superdrive version 2.0 on my MBP. There are limitations, though. DVD player does not accept the drive as valid, VLC player 1.1.9 doesn't work either. I can read the disks as data files. Handbrake works, so there is a way to watch movies on the MBP from DVD, it just takes 30 min. of preparation ;-)
If I find a way to read DVD's directly, I will post it.
Thanks again for the help!!!



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: PetePz on Aug 04, '12 01:19:26PM

I have installed the current version of VLC player (2.0.3) and with "open" you can read and play DVDs.



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: Sounde on Nov 06, '12 03:30:49PM

Look at this: http://macenstein.com/default/2011/07/how-to-get-your-external-super-drive-working-in-lion/

It worked for me... fabulous!



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: Boostedseven on Aug 29, '12 07:22:28PM

How is this reversed? Specifically, I am planning to reinstall my superdrive back in its original home. Is there anything that I need to do aside from physically reinstalling the drive?



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: CharlieDancey on Jul 07, '12 01:20:56PM

Apple have now re-branded the "MacBook Air Superdrive", and the box is labelled "USB SuperDrive".

Having picked one up today I can confirm that the techniques detailed above will still work for drives shipping in the new box.

These drives ship at a very competitive price point, especially when compared to the cost of the internal Apple SuperDrive that you might need if a SuperDrive failed on an out-of-warranty iMac or similar –which would roughly double the price and might involve taking your Mac out of service and off your desk for a day or so if you are too faint-hearted or not equipped for the job of fitting it yourself.

My guess is that Apple made these cheap to placate Air owners from complaining about the lack of an optical drive, this providing a cheap fix for those not content with the Apple vision of a future without optical drives, or indeed anything we might call a "drive". You'll remember that Apple took the bold step of dropping the floppy disk drive *way* ahead of the pack. They were right of course, and timely in their vision that time.

But this time they have jumped the gun a little, hence the people at Apple keeping an eye on these things have fixed it with this stupidly low-priced external drive -then hacked the driver so it will only work on the machines they ship without their own Superdrives built –so it will only be used by their exact targeted market.

No matter: we know better and while thanking Apple very much (and loving their stuff) we will all agree that once we have paid our money their kit becomes our kit to do with it as we wish.

So anyone needing a new Superdrive for their Mac is advised that the "USB SuperDrive" is the simplest, cheapest and most hassle-free way of fixing the problem. A quick line in the terminal. One reboot. Plug in the drive and go.



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: TheAngryIntern on Aug 17, '12 07:05:31AM

@CyborgSam: Thank you very much for the tip, worked like a charm on my 2009 MBP. I had replaced the internal superdisk with an SSD and had been using a samsung external dvd drive, but I was at work and only had access to an Apple external superdrive and couldn't get it working with my MBP, I found a big folder of some of my old CDs and wanted to rip them into my iTunes library but couldn't get the superdrive to work. So thanks again!



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: brianb9 on Sep 01, '12 10:32:45PM

Has anyone been able to use disk utility to burn discs or images on external superdrive. I've done everything here and still no DVD Player recognition or disk utility functionality.
Thanks



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: davidsanger on Oct 02, '12 02:43:44PM

This doesn't seem to work with the brand new USB Superdrive, OS 10.8.2 and a late 2007 MacBook Pro.

The drive shows up in System Profiler but when a disk is inserted nothing happens



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: urbanverb on Oct 05, '12 09:52:09AM

Hi
This worked perfectly with my Late '08 Macbook Pro and Macbook Air Superdrive but now I have updated to a Macbook Pro Retina the Macbook Air Superdrive no longer works. Has anyone else found this or an answer?
Thanks
UV



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: dwsjoquist on Oct 26, '12 04:06:12PM

The method in this article worked for me on my 2006 era 17" MacBookPro:

http://www.askdavetaylor.com/use_external_macbook_air_superdrive_on_macbook_pro.html

Doug



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: Sean Read on Nov 04, '12 07:43:01AM

Thanks a million, I thought I was going to have to send the apple USB superdrive back but I'm now watching DVDs on it via VLC with a SSD in the old superdrive bay.



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Use the Apple external SuperDrive on (almost) any Mac
Authored by: elvey on Aug 11, '14 10:34:45AM
Thanks, alexburke. sudo nvram boot-args="mbasd=1" was great advice - EXCEPT it would have wiped out my previous setting. First, I ran nvram boot-args, which showed that I already had boot-args set to -v on this MacBook Pro. So, knowing that, I instead ran sudo nvram boot-args="-v mbasd=1" which worked like a charm. I rebooted , and the DVD drive was recognized and I was able to burn (an ubuntu DVD-RW) with it.

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