We explain how to burn a CD on PC and Mac, and what to do if your computer lacks a DVD drive.
CDs are a dying breed, but that doesn’t mean they are extinct. In fact, I recently burnt several CDs ahead of a long drive, as the car I’d hired didn’t have the option to connect to my MP3 player. The very same CDs came in handy at the hotel too as my room sadly lacked a speaker dock.
Burning a CD isn’t always as straightforward as you might think though, so here’s our guide to the best free CD burning programs – and what to do if your computer is of a new breed built without a DVD drive.
CD burner programs
iTunes (PC/Mac, £free)
If you own a Mac then iTunes comes pre-installed, while on a PC it’s available as a free download. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch then there’s a good chance you already use this to manage your music. If not, then drag your music collection from wherever you keep it into iTunes to add your tracks.
My preferred way is to create a New Playlist and drag tracks into there. When you’re ready to burn a disc, insert a blank CD, right-click on the Playlist and select Burn playlist to Disc.
iTunes will then work out if you have enough space – most CDs store around 80 minutes of tracks – and, assuming you don’t have to remove any music – click Burn. Just make sure you have the Disc Format set to Audio CD.
Windows Media Player (PC, £free)
If you have Windows then you have a copy of Windows Media Player (WMP). While not quite as pretty as iTunes, using it does mean you need not install any new software onto your PC. As with iTunes, if you’re music isn’t already there you can just drag it in from your Music folder.
One advantage WMP has over iTunes is that you can right-click on songs and select Add to burn list rather than creating a permanent list. This appears at the side and is easy to keep track of your tracks. Then simply pop in your CD and click on Start burn.
My computer doesn’t have a CD or DVD drive
My Apple Mac mini lacks a CD drive, as do many of the latest streamlined laptops and all-in-one PCs.
So what to do? I tried copying my playlist, built from a mix of ripped CDs, Amazon, iTunes and Google Play downloads, to an older Mac mini that had a CD drive; but Apple clearly knows best as it prevented me from successfully transferring every file – presumably due to copyright issues.
Instead I found the solution lay in buying an external DVD drive. You can pick up an external USB DVD writer from as little as £16 online. Simply plugging the new drive into my Mac mini gave me the ability to burn through iTunes in exactly the same way as I’ve described above – success!