Help! My DVD Is Stuck in the Tray!

Christian Cawley 04-09-2013

What happens when your DVD gets stuck in the tray? Can you remove it easily, or is it trapped in the drive until you can take your computer to a technician?


Thankfully, the answer to that last question in most cases is no. Pretty much all that happens when your disc becomes stuck is that the tray will not open, likely due to a power or device driver issue. Several methods have been tried and tested to help you retrieve your stuck disc – so many, in fact, that they can be attempted in the order described below.

Remember, however, that if your disc has become stuck, there may have been a reason for this happening. As such, try to think back to how the device locked up, as this might indicate an underlying issue with your computer.

First, Try the Software Eject Method

Before you start panicking and getting desperate to retrieve the disc, begin sensibly by opening My Computer and right-clicking on the optical drive, selecting Eject. Wait a few moments to see if the drive comes to its senses; if not, restart your PC.


While the PC is rebooting, press the eject button on your drive. This should result in the disc ejecting – problem resolved!


If, however, this doesn’t work, it suggests a problem with the optical drive hardware. In order for you resolve this, you will need to first manually remove the disc and then confirm your disc is correctly connected to your computer.

Use a Paperclip to Remove the Disc

Using a bent paperclip is one of the most common methods of removing a stuck optical disc. This isn’t dangerous and won’t damage your device – in fact, if you look carefully, you will spot the small hole on the drive tray that is provided for this very task (note that the position of the hole will vary, depending on the type of drive and the manufacturer).


You’ll need about 1.5 inches of the paperclip to be straightened out; gently press this into the hole on your disc drive in order to push the manual eject switch. If successful, the tray should open slightly, enough for you to pull it open and remove the disc.



Now, if everything is working properly and all of this was just a glitch, you should find that the drive will begin flashing and whirring when you close the drawer. If this doesn’t happen, then you should prepare for a bit of hardware troubleshooting.

Check Optical Drive Cabling

If you’re using a desktop computer, you will need to confirm that your drive is correctly connected to the power supply.



To do this, shutdown the computer and remove the power cable. You will need to open the case and confirm that the optical drive is correctly connected to the power cable that runs from the PSU. If it is, there may be a problem with the PSU, so get this checked or replace it.

The procedure of opening your PC and checking the cabling will differ across various models and designs of PC and case, so check the documentation for your hardware to confirm the best and safest way of confirming this. Our guide to diagnosing hardware issues How To Diagnose Hardware Problems When Your Computer Won't Turn On Last week I showed you some of the simplest DIY repairs and upgrades that you can do yourself, but one reader asked how to diagnose which component was the problem. Today I’d like to walk... Read More should help.

Slimline Laptop Drive? Try It in Another Device

Of course, it isn’t only desktop computers that suffer from problems ejecting discs from optical drives. If you’re using a laptop/notebook, the same paperclip trick above can be tried, and you can also use the software commands to eject your disc.

However, if the drive is repeatedly locking discs in, you might consider switching it into another computer of the same model, providing the optical drive is removable.



If no similar computer is available, you might try connecting the DVD drive to another computer via USB, using a low-cost DVD enclosure kit No DVD Drive on Your Tablet or Notebook? Use an Old Laptop Drive Instead! Windows computers increasingly ship without optical drives. Here's how to use an old laptop DVD drive as an external drive. Read More .

Stuck Discs in Domestic DVD Players

What about domestic DVD players? Getting a stuck disc out of one of these can be tricky as there is no unified approach to fixing such issues.

Although some devices enable you to use a paperclip, others require you to switch the device off and hold the eject button; others still necessitate a visit from (or to) a technician.

For the best results, run a Google search, listing your DVD player model and the phrase “disc stuck” – you should find the details you need to eject the disc.

Using a Mac?

There is every chance that you’ve come across this article looking for a way of ejecting a disc from your Apple computer. Most of what is described above applies to Windows computers, but if you are having problems removing a disc from your Mac’s trayless optical drive (assuming you haven’t swapped it for an SSD How To Swap Out Your Macbook's DVD Drive For An SSD Is your old Apple laptop starting to struggle? Is the boot time so long that you can actually go out and buy a coffee? If so, perhaps it's time to think about upgrading your main... Read More ), one good way is to restart the computer holding the Option key, and using the Eject button on the keyboard when the startup disk selection screen appears.

There are many other methods for removing a disc stuck in your Mac’s optical drive, however.

Conclusion: Retrieve Your Disc, Then Rip It!

There is little chance of your stuck disc becoming damaged inside the computer, laptop or living room optical drive – but it’s arguably better to be safe than sorry in this situation. The potential for discs getting stuck and therefore slowing you down is a good reason to start to think about hard disk space and flash storage for your movies, audio and software rather than optical media. Ripping audio, DVD and Blu-ray is easy, and the data can be stored on your hard disk drive as a disc image, ready to be launched when needed (using software such as Handbrake 5 Simple Steps to Rip an Entire DVD to Your Hard Drive Have you backed up your DVD collection? Let us show you how to rip your DVDs to your hard drive for free with HandBrake. Read More , available for Windows and Mac). Of course, you might prefer to continue with the admittedly occasional stuck discs.

All of the fixes above are proven to work, but if you have any additional disc-ejecting tips, please let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Arkalian., Thomas Ormston

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  1. sourabh
    June 24, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    thnx the paperclip method work u solve my problem

    • Christian Cawley
      June 28, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      Glad to hear it!

  2. Aaron
    January 28, 2015 at 4:14 am

    Thx And I have I nother solution wait a few mins and it should be fine

    • Christian Cawley
      June 28, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Certainly worth a try!

  3. Howard B
    September 6, 2013 at 3:29 am

    This machine is Windows XP, although this isn't the first time I've had this problem. It's not a driver problem, because it's not just the "eject" command in the right-click menu; the drive door won't open with the front panel button most times unless there's a disc in the tray (and once or twice with a disc in). This seems to be the most common problem I've had with Optiarc DVD burners, which I've been using in several machines throughout the past ten years or so. It seems to be a hardware problem, although the specificity of it being with an empty drive is rather odd.

  4. Howard B
    September 5, 2013 at 3:03 am

    The problem I most often have with DVD drives is, despite nothing being wrong with the computer, the drive door won't open. Using the paperclip method to hit the manual eject button usually opens the drawer enough that it opens the rest of the way.
    I'm having a slight problem with a SATA DVD burner that's less than 12 months old...whenever there's no disc in the drive (and once in a while WITH a disc in the drive), the tray won't open. My solution is to keep a disc in the drive, or eject it with the paperclip method if it still won't open. *sigh*

    • TechnoAngina
      September 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      2 questions. Is this a linux distribution. Linux has a problem with the disks getting locked, especially DVDs if it gets stuck while reading and the program crashes. I don't know of a solution to this yet.

      If you're on Windows try removing the driver in the hardware manager and then searching for new hardware. Your driver may not have installed properly on the initial install and this should completely refresh the driver without any risk. I've cleared up similar issues on laptops doing this before. If this still doesn't work, search for the hardware ID in device manager then select and press Control + C then paste that into a web browser and you should be able to get the manufacturer and usually a driver location.

      If you're on a Mac, you should probably start selling organs to pay for an upgrade.

  5. Danielle
    September 5, 2013 at 3:02 am

    I learned the paper clip trick in 1996 on a floppy, it was one of the things that made me interested in computers, which went on to become my career.

  6. Min Xuan X
    September 5, 2013 at 2:49 am

    What if everything is fine, the cabling, software drivers, everything, except that the tray is completely jammed? Happened to my laptop once, luckily there's no disc inside, and I got the whole drive replaced.

    • TechnoAngina
      September 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Most likely if you've tried everything then the plastic gears that drive the ejection system either became unseated or broken. This was far more common on older drives I used to have back in the 90s. Usually you have to replace it, but you can still get the disk out usually by taking apart the disk tray itself and removing the obstruction or reseating the part that's out of place. Be very careful doing this though, as you can damage the disk if you're not careful.

  7. Eric J
    September 5, 2013 at 1:32 am

    the paperclip one works awesome!