Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

Erasing CD-RWs in Mac OS X 10.3

By Karen Ackoff

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

I recently upgraded the Mac workstations to Mac OS X in the university lab where I teach.

I set up two user accounts - an administrator account and a student user account (used by all students). The student user account was set up with limited access, to prevent accidental deletion and unauthorized installation of programs.

Many students prefer to back up to CD-RWs because they can be erased and used over again. However, in Mac OS X, the only way to erase a CD-RW is by using Disk Utility, which cannot be used in a limited access user account. Apple Tech support confirmed this.

For students to erase a CD-RW, I would have to log in as the administrator and run Disk Utility-not a practical solution. So I “googled” the Web for an answer.

I found a great little program called DiscBlaze, which sells for $19. With DiscBlaze, you can to do the following:

A bargain any way you look at it. It should be noted that DiscBlaze can burn CDs in Mac, PC, hybrid or ISO 9660 formats. The web help files are easily accessed from the help menu within DiscBlaze. The instructions are brief and to the point, and very easy to follow. Burning a CD is as simple as dragging-and-dropping files, and then clicking on BURN. To erase a CD-RW, simply insert the disc and click on ERASE. It couldn't be any easier. This is a great little program and does a lot for a very modest price. DiscBlaze also has a great logo.

DiscBlaze v3.0.7, $19
For Mac OS X 10.2.6 or higher (including 10.3)

DiscBlaze 3 interface

Fig. 1. The inteface for DiscBlaze 3. DiscBlaze offers a set of well-rounded features, such as being able to burn data or audio CDs and DVDs, multiple sessions, erase CD-RWs, and create disk image files. In this instance, it is being used to burn a hybrid (Mac and PC) format CD-RW disc.

I also found a program called Eraser by Lars Ostergaard. It is compiled code from the Apple Developer site, and so is free. It does only one thing-it erases CD-RWs. When you open the application, the CD drawer opens and you are prompted to insert a disk. You choose to erase the disk “completely” or “quickly”, and that's all there is to it. To quit, choose CANCEL (oddly enough, you cannot choose QUIT from the Eraser menu). Jeff Skyrsak apparently did the same thing with the code and offers an identical freeware application called CD-Erase.

Freeware, for Mac OS X 10.2 and higher

Eraser interface

Fig. 2. The interface for Eraser. Simply put in the CD-RW and click "erase", choosing either "completely" or "quickly".


All the programs work well with managed accounts with limited access and require no special setting of privileges. Eraser and CD-Erase only erase CD-RWs. DiscBlaze has more features, and packs a lot into an inexpensive and easy to use program.