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Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Mavericks Edition by David Pogue

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Burning CDs and DVDs

Not many Mac models come with a DVD burner anymore. But if yours has one (maybe an external USB drive), a CD or DVD is great for backing up stuff, transferring stuff to another computer (even a Windows PC), mailing to somebody, or offloading (archiving) older files to free up hard drive space. You can buy blank CDs and DVDs incredibly cheaply in bulk—$20 for 100 CDs, for example—via the Web.

You can burn a disc in either of two ways: with the blank disc inserted or without.

Burn Folders: Without the Disc

The burn folder is a special folder that you fill up by dragging file and folder icons to it. Then, when you’re ready to burn, you just insert the blank disc and go.

The burn-folder concept has a lot going for it:

  • No wasted hard drive space. When you use a burn folder, you’re not using up any additional disk space as you load up a disc with files and folders. Instead, the Mac just sets aside aliases of the files and folders you want to burn. Aliases take up negligible hard drive space. When you finally burn the disc, the designated material is copied directly onto the CD or DVD.

  • Easy reuse. You can keep a burn folder on your desktop, prestocked with the folders you like to back up. Each time you burn a disc, you get the latest version of those folders’ contents, and you’re saved the effort of having to gather them each time.

  • Prepare ahead of time. You can get a CD or DVD ready to burn without having a blank disc on hand.

Here’s how you use burn folders:

  1. Create a burn ...

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