Is it worth buying an Apple USB Superdrive. Most Apple Macs no longer ship with an optical CD or DVD drive (called the SuperDrive by Apple). But Apple still sells a DVD reader and recorder on the Apple Store. The Apple USB SuperDrive is £65… is it worth it?

In the age of lightning fast broadband internet connection and USB 3.0 or Lightning flash drives, the optical drive does seem a little archaic. But there’s still a lot you can do with a DVD drive on a Mac. Read our Apple SuperDrive review.

Find out:

  • What can you do with an Apple USB SuperDrive
  • How to attach a CD/DVD burner to a new Mac
  • Is it worth buying the Apple USB SuperDrive? Or should you get a third-party option instead

What is a Apple USB Superdrive and how does it work?

The Apple USB SuperDrive is an optical DVD reader and recorder that connects to an Apple Mac via a USB port. It gives the Apple Mac a DVD recorder, which works in the same fashion to a Mac with a DVD drive built-in. There are some limitations, it’s a little slower than using a Mac with a built-in DVD drive, but by and large you can do the same things.

Should you buy an Apple SuperDrive?

What can you do with an Apple USB SuperDrive

Although DVD technology is starting to be phased out from the computer market on the whole, it is still a standard addition to many computers. Attaching a Apple USB SuperDrive to the Mac allows it to do the things that other computers with a DVD drive can do:


Install optical based software with a SuperDrive

This is pretty handy if you have lots of old software programs lying around on CD/DVD. While pretty much everything you need these days is available from the Mac App Store, there are still some programs that don’t exist on the Mac App Store. And they’re the big hitters: Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, Avid Pro, and so on. While you can often install these digitally, many people find the physical disc reassuring.

See: Can you get Microsoft Office, Windows on a Mac?

Install old Mac software with a SuperDrive

Older versions of programs only exists on optical disks. So having an Apple USB Superdrive enables you7 to store older software onto your Mac.While most people prefer to run the latest software, there are some work environments that insist on having older software.

Microsoft Office 2008 For Mac

Adobe introduces Creative Suite 4 Production Premium

Install old Windows and Mac operating systems from DVD  

Fancy running a copy of Windows XP in Parallels Desktop? Some workers have to (poor things). You’ll find this installation process a heck of a lot easier with a copy of Windows XP on CD.

Parallels Desktop 8.0 review

Copy and burn CDs from iTunes with a SuperDrive

Fancy taking your entire CD collection into iTunes (if you haven’t already). You can take all your music from CD and to the Mac, and from there into iTunes Match or Google play. An Apple USB SuperDrive makes this possible.

See: Secrets: Ripping and playing audiobooks

Apple USB SuperDrive

Play and RIP DVDs on a Mac

It’s not strictly legal in the UK, so long as you know that. But an Apple USB SuperDrive and a copy of HandBrake in the UK will enable you to rip your DVDs to a movie format and play them in iTunes or on the Apple TV.

Burn DVDs. You can also record home movies to DVD and share them with people. While most people share video on YouTube this is the way to share movies with those members of your family that aren’t quite up to it.

See: HandBrake review and Set your DVD movies free with HandBrake

Also: How do I play a DVD movie on my Mac?

Archiving your photos to a DVD on a Mac

You can backup your photos, music, videos and other files to a physical location. This isn’t to be underestimated. We find that backing up to CD and storing on a shelf provides a safer home than backing up to hard drives or Time Machines. Especially in the long run.

See; Macworld Secrets: Online backup services and Toast 10 Review

So… is it worth buying an Apple USB SuperDrive?

Apple sells the Apple USB SuperDrive on its site for £65. It’s a sleek device measuring just 13 cm square and under 2cm deep. It also weighs next to nothing at 335g.

Most people buy an Apple USB SuperDrive because they need to read or record optical discs (usually for one of the reasons above). In this case it really is worth buying an Apple USB SuperDrive, although they certainly get less use these days and we are moving away from optical discs entirely. If you can stick to digital downloads you’ll probably be happier.

What Macs can use the Apple USB SuperDrive

Pretty much all Macs can run the Apple USB SuperDrive:

  • MacBook Pro with Retina display
  • MacBook Air
  • iMac (late 2012) and later
  • Mac mini (late 2009) and later
  • Mac Pro (late 2013)

Alternatives to the Apple USB SuperDrive

there are other USB drives available such as the Samsung SE-208DB/TSBS (£22.49). These offer a good alternative to the Apple USB SuperDrive,l although you should be careful to check compatibility when buying. Because Apple has moved so decisively away from optical support many DVD recorders do not  support the Mac OS X operating system.

It’s also worth remembering that you can connect a Mac without a SuperDrive to a Mac with a DVD drive using AirDisk (tick the DVD or CD Sharing feature in System Preferences > Sharing).

Samsung DVD Burner