Apple no longer builds CD/DVD drives into the Mac, but you can still use one from another computer on your network.

If you're going to regularly read or burn CDs and DVDs, it's probably worth investing in an Apple SuperDrive or similar external CD/DVD burner. For occasional use, however, the Remote Disc feature built into OS X, paired with a computer that already has a CD/DVD drive, may be more than good enough.

Remote Disc will let you access documents stored on CDs and DVDs and will also let you run some software installers, which makes it suitable for occasional use. What Remote Disc won't let you do is share files from audio CDs, Blu-ray Discs or DVD movies, copy-protected discs (some games, for example), recordable CDs or DVD that you want to burn, or Microsoft Windows installation discs.

It also only works on Macs that don't include built-in optical drives. (If the Mac knows that you have an external optical drive connected to your Mac, it disables this feature.)

To use Remote Disc, you'll need a Mac or Windows computer on the same local area network (including the same Wi-Fi network) as your Mac. Your Mac will need to be running OS X 10.4.11 or later. If you're using a Windows PC, it'll need Windows XP (SP2) or later along with Apple's DVD or CD Sharing Update 1.0 for Windows.

How to share a Remote Disc from your Mac

If the computer with the Remote Disc you want to access is a also Mac, you may need to enable drive sharing before you can use it.

  1. Go to the Mac with an optical drive attached or built in.
  2. Select System Preferences.
  3. Click on Sharing.
  4. Click on the checkbox that says DVD or CD Sharing.
  5. You can limit who can access your optical drive by checking the box marked Ask me before allowing others to use my DVD drive.
  6. Close System Preferences.

How to access Remote Disc from your Mac

Once you have a computer set up to share it's Remote Disc, you'll be able to access it.

  1. Open a new window in the Finder.
  2. Scroll down the sidebar until you see Devices.
  3. Click on Remote Disc.
  4. You should see an icon for the computer sharing its optical drive. If "Ask me before allowing" is on the host computer, click on the Ask to use... button.
  5. The host computer will be able to accept or reject the request. Make sure it's accepted.
  6. Once accepted, the contents of the DVD or CD should appear on the Mac.

Once you've copied the files you need, or run the installer, you can click Disconnect to stop sharing the Remote Disc.