Search this site:


July 2, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: PC CD trays

Dominique Huet writes that CD drives are now standard on every PC, and they all have the same broken feature: the open/close button is below the tray. So when the tray is open, you have to reach under the tray to close it. This would only make sense if most people sat below their computers. Why not just put the button above the tray? On my Macintosh, the open/close button is on the keyboard...


Hmm. I'm an IT consultant (read: over-titled tech), and I really can't say I know of too many people who actually close the drive with the button. Almost everyone pushes the tray back in, as they respond to the pressure, and then retract themselves. Since the electronics are in the bottom half of the drive, putting the button on top would increase cost as you'd have to have another wireset leading to a button mounted to the top of the front faceplate, complicating manufacturing. As for Macs, what if your keyboard isn't near the system? Having the button on the drive makes far more sense, as you'll have to reach over there to insert/remove a CD anyway.

Posted by: Grey Hodge at July 2, 2004 01:25 AM

Right on, Dominique. I have complained about the stupid placement of that button for years.

Posted by: TK at July 2, 2004 04:05 AM

My win 3.11 machine had a program that could open

and close the drive all by itself (ocasionally

without user interaction as well.)

Many people do have their tower located on the

desk next to the monitor, which puts the drive

near or above shoulder level anyway (people see

it that way in the comercials and shops and

think that's how it is supposed to be set up.)

Posted by: Thor at July 2, 2004 06:34 AM

_@_v - i'm using a desktop mac but i just nudge the drive closed when i need to. i think most people do if they can't reach the button.

_@_v - it's a good thing they thought to have a sensor to tell when a cd tray was being nudged inward. imagine all the broken cd drives if they didn't

Posted by: she-snailie _@_v at July 2, 2004 06:54 AM

[root@system] eject

Posted by: someone at July 2, 2004 09:17 AM

Better yet, put the button on one side - I'd vote for the left hand side as my PC's always sit on my right hand side.

Reason being, if you have 2 drives in your PC and they share adjecent caddies, you have to close the top one before you can open the bottom one! Drives me mad! :-D

Posted by: Richard@Home at July 2, 2004 10:10 AM

Small minds! Why not a voice activated cd tray. Of course you'd have to hook it up to you webcam so it could also read sign language.

That wouldn't be hard, why don't they do that?

I suppose the ultimate would be a cd tray that was internet capable, then you could just log into a website, and tell it to open the tray. You would even operate it remotely over the internet!

On a more serious note, this isn't broken. A human hand can much more easily push a button that is directly underneath something than one that is directly above. Put your hand with one finger sticking out, like you would to push a button. Your bottom three fingers are below the pointer finger, they would get in the way, forcing you to twist your hand awkwardly, or more likely bump the cd out of the tray just as it was closing.

Oooh I got, how about one with motion detection, so you just have to wave your hand in front of it, like the faucets that turn on when you put your hands under them! Just wave your hand in front, and it opens, then wave your hand again and it closes.

Posted by: Patrick at July 2, 2004 07:09 PM

Or, how about The Clapper?

Posted by: Shaun Hill at July 4, 2004 02:58 AM

But you Mac is broken, since it's not a PC ;)

Posted by: But... at July 4, 2004 03:44 AM

Funny. I have a cup holder on my machine with the same problem.

Posted by: Deef at July 4, 2004 12:59 PM

> I really can't say I know of too many people > who actually close the drive with the

> button. Almost everyone pushes the tray back > in, as they respond to the pressure, and

> then retract themselves.

This is because the button is on the bottom.

> Since the electronics are in the bottom half > of the drive, putting the button on top

> would increase cost as you'd have to have

> another wireset leading to a button mounted > to the top of the front faceplate,

> complicating manufacturing.

Yes. Why make anything easier for people? Who was the bold bastard that stopped those damned VCRs from blinking 12:00 at us? That had to have cost some money, to change the circuit design at some point. FrogDesign had to fight tooth and nail to make the "play" button on AT&T's 1331 answering machine a different color (blue). Because of the cost involved, you see. The unit became a best-seller because of this "innovation" and other user-centered design reasons.

Patrick: Your theories involving button-pushing are not passing the scientific method from where I'm sitting. I reach over, and I can press an imaginary button just above the CDROM tray with no problems.

Posted by: Jimmy Jim Jimson at July 5, 2004 08:27 PM

Some of the new Sony VAIO desktops solve this problem, putting it on the right side. Unfortunately, this doesn't work quite as well for desktops on the right side of the person using them.

Also, I cannot put my computer on the floor because of flooding issues as we cannot install a sump pump due to regulations here, so the button being below the drive works perfectly for me.

Posted by: Alex Engel at July 6, 2004 07:32 PM

Creative Labs had a CD drive with, get this, a remote control. So you could eject the drive from the other side of the room.

Posted by: Alex at July 6, 2004 07:34 PM

Yes, there's a key on my keyboard to open and close the CD/DVD tray on my Mac...but it isn't labeled. I used it a couple of times when I first got this Mac...didn't use it for several weeks, then had no idea how to get the tray open.

Posted by: Iris at July 7, 2004 12:33 AM

>As for Macs, what if your keyboard isn't near the system?

Desktop Macs (e.g. G4s) have an additional button on the drive.

Posted by: LKM at July 7, 2004 04:24 AM

>Yes, there's a key on my keyboard to open and close the

>CD/DVD tray on my Mac...but it isn't labeled.

funny, mine is.

I think on some older systems, you could press F12 to open/close the tray. But that was in addition to the button on the drive. When Apple removed to button on the drive from the iBooks and added the try-less drives to the PowerBooks, they labeled the F12 button with the eject-sign.

Desktop Macs still have the button on the drive in addition to the one on the keyboard, but I think the new keyboards also have the eject icon.

Posted by: LKM at July 7, 2004 04:27 AM

I've never found anything I like better on my Sun than typing "eject cdrom"

I think it even works both ways, i.e. when I'm administrating a box 1500 miles away and accidentally type it, though it's been ages...

I mostly use scp to move files around, with the rare remotely-mounted cd.

That AT&T answering machine was very nice. I'm still using mine. I also have a wonderful clock radio that has a numeric keypad(!). I can't let that die, as they haven't made it since the early '80's.

- Scott

Posted by: Scott Packard at July 13, 2004 07:53 PM

"Yes, there's a key on my keyboard to open and close the CD/DVD tray on my Mac...but it isn't labeled. I used it a couple of times when I first got this Mac...didn't use it for several weeks, then had no idea how to get the tray open."


That's why you ended up using a Mac.

Posted by: etm at July 14, 2004 04:40 AM

My HP Pavilion has the button over the CD-ROM door and I hadn't realized how convenient that was until I saw This Is Broken. Even when I replaced the CD-ROM with a Read-Write DVD drive, the button still worked just fine.

Posted by: Steve Llanso at July 14, 2004 02:32 PM

wow, who knew people could be so snarky (and even borderline mean?) in these comments-- jeez. anyhow, at the end of all this... I'd have to agree with the original post. as a "universal" interface (i.e. since this drive could be on any computer, macs, pc, rack-mount server, whatever), a button near the tray that's easy to get to seems to make a lot of sense. no confusion, no mystery about how to eject, and no reaching under the tray.

btw the top vs bottom button mount really does boil down to, how high is the cd-rom in your workspace relative to your hand, right? I mean, if our drives were all above arm level (say, mounted to the top of the monitor, for example), the button under the tray would be fine. so the problem seems to be (and I say "seems" since I don't know the actual facts here) that in the real world, a majority of drives are below arm level... in my case, sitting on the floor near my knee.

which makes the under-tray button very inconvenient. :-)

I also use a mac daily and do like the keyboard-mount eject button. the problem is that's not a standard across all computers, and in some ways, I'm glad-- windows is so crappy, I don't like the idea of the software holding my cd hostage, which I could easily see happening if windows decides it doesn't want to open the tray. hmph.

Posted by: eric m. at July 14, 2004 03:50 PM

Mind you, the computer should NOT be placed on the floor -- because of... guess what... dust. The amount of dust sucked in decreases exponencially with height, that's why KNOWLEDGEABLE computer users have their DESKTOP computers guess where... on DESK TOPS, shich makes the button "above arm level", as necessary.

Posted by: Wesha at July 15, 2004 11:52 AM

Wesha: The amount of dust on a surface is not relative to the height of the surface so much as to the air drafts in the room and the heights of surfaces around it.

For example, I have a ceiling fan and lots of shelves in my room; therefore, my higher shelves have much more dust than my lower ones because as dust (dead skin cells) flakes off of me (disgusting as it sounds, yes :D), the draft from my fan carries it up, then pushes it outward.

Posted by: Dahlia at July 15, 2004 11:31 PM

I quoted that from a study I read about; and my personal experience with the computers I service confirms that: the higher the box is situated, the less dust sits in the CPU cooler.

Posted by: Wesha at July 16, 2004 06:02 PM

I agree with the first commenter that manufacturers put the button below the tray because the electronics are at the bottom. However, I don't think it's because adding a button at the top would cost more in wiring. There just isn't enough space to put a button above the tray. The laser and electronics have to be below the tray because the laser has to read the bottom of the disc. The only way they could get the tray low enough for an adequately sized button at the top is if they reduce the size of the laser, motor, and circuit board. Or they could separate the laser and the circuitry, with the tray running between them. If it was just an extra wire, it would be no problem. But the costs of redesigning the entire drive and added production costs outweigh the possible benefit of a new button placement. Even then, you'd also have people who put their computers on their desks compaining that they have to reach over the tray to hit the button. Also, putting a button at the top is just inviting people to get their fingers caught in the tray as it's closing.

Posted by: RotJ at July 20, 2004 01:18 AM

its really pathetic how people can argue about cd drive eject button placements

Posted by: me at July 21, 2004 07:19 PM

Argh. If you want to open and close your cd drive so easily, use a program that does it.

Or you could always do this scary thing.. _open_ the computer, unhook the cables from the back of the drive, remove it, turn it upside-down, put it back in that way and connect the cables again. (You may have to take off the rails for it to fit this way)

Then open it (note that the button is now on top...) and adjust those little tabs on the (now underside) CD tray so they stick out, thus holding a cd in place when you stick one there.

Sure, maybe it's a little awkward, but at least you get the button on top!

Posted by: argh at July 22, 2004 12:10 PM

Instead of trays, computers should use disc drives like the ones in cars; similar in apearance and functionality as female organ. For example, if you are simultaneously disc swapping,say, cd to cd burning, a button on top would also be inconvenient.

Posted by: Arkimedes at August 10, 2004 04:51 PM

Reading this thread made me ask myself how I close my CD tray - oh, I use the button which is mounted to the side! I have a Sony VAIO, and I guess they figured this one out. I didn't even appreciate that fact until just now!

Posted by: Zed at August 21, 2004 01:02 AM

Wesha... study or no study, your a moron. Think back, a little bit further than your narrow view of the world, when computers took up an entire room, some serviced by people on roller skates. Now, imagine that companies finally put together a computer that no longer requires a small house to reside in, what would they market it as? Hmmm... floor computer.... no.... home PC? Possibly! "Desktop"! Yes, that says it all!!! We made a computer that doesn't need 10 technicians, an engineering degree and a 1200 sq.ft room!!! It fits on the top of your desk!! A desktop... as opposed to "room full o' crap" at the college.

Since a desktop belongs ON your desk, I suppose a laptop is only intended to be on someone's lap?! As if the fan of my PC being 1.5 feet off the ground is really better than it being 3 or 4 feet off the ground? Do YOU know what kind of heating and air conditioning I have?! Maybe I have radiators... maybe I have forced air through the floor and my PC in the attic! No, wait, my PC is in the basement!! I need to hang it from the ceiling, so it's as close to a desk on ground level as possible!!

Of course, I am not a "knowledgeable" PC repair type person with experience in computer service. On the other hand, I am 10 feet tall and all of my dander, which is the main component of dust falls from superhuman heights.

Why am I so hostile? Well, "you are such a knowledgeable user" looking down on the rest of us idiots... just standing up for the little guy....


Posted by: ha at August 29, 2004 06:15 AM

Why not make the entire front of the tray a button, that way, when you go to push in the drive, you are really pushing the open/close button.

somebody should try that.

Posted by: Alex at August 30, 2004 03:03 AM

Why not make the entire front of the tray a button, that way, when you go to push in the drive, you are really pushing the open/close button. Think, you tap the font, it opens, tap it again, it closes, with little force exerted.

somebody should try that.

Posted by: Alex at August 30, 2004 03:05 AM

Perhaps some of you should invest in a slot dvd/cd-rom drive. Much like the cd players found in car audio decks, slot players have, get this, no cupholder/cd tray. Push the cd into the slot -> cd gets pulled in. Push the eject button -> cd pops out. Ingenious!

Posted by: Magnus at August 30, 2004 06:21 PM

it would be nice if the drive was like a car one (as above post) or there was a cd changer in it so you put it in onice and never have to worry again

Posted by: travis at November 10, 2004 08:20 AM

I agree with Alex about putting a button on the drive tray. why not a touch sensitive one, hell its about time they redesigned cd drives anyway, most people who mod their computers try to cover theirs up cos they're so ugly!

Posted by: jt at November 15, 2004 03:30 PM

yeah it's semi-annoying to have to reach down but you could also just push the tray in. i have two cd drives in my computer so i open one up wondering if something is in it there is so i open the one bellow it without closing the top one, now the top tray's button is between both trays... um push method?

Posted by: sonikuu at November 30, 2004 08:05 AM

One good thing about where they put the eject button now is that they all put it in the same place. I'd hate for it to get like modern car radio's/home stereos where every manufacturer invents its own control layout.

I'm pretty sure if they broke with the standard some fool engineer would come up with a bizarrely bad way to do it on the drive I happened to purchase, like the MAC with an unlabeled eject button on the keyboard and no eject button on the drive. Or at least I'd be fumbling around for the first few weeks every time I tried to find the open CD button on a new drive.

I also agree with the comment about fingers getting caught in the drive. It doesn't have to happen much, even a few broken drive trays flung accross the room when the big fingered user gets bit by the cup holder would probably sour most IT departments on them forever. And any personal injury lawyers reading this are probably wiping their chins right now.

Please, just push on the tray.

Posted by: billc at December 13, 2004 02:10 PM

the only logical solution is disc drive buttons to the left and right of the disc tray, one above and below, one on the monitor, then another implanted on your forehead so when you bang your fat heads trying to figure out the laziest way for your hand to get to the button, it'll open automatically.

Posted by: dasasdasd at December 13, 2004 03:21 PM

Jimmy Jim Jimson, It is awkward to try to push an imaginary button above the tray. Try to push an imaginary button above the tray, with the tray opened.

Posted by: Brian at January 15, 2005 09:30 PM

Why not pumplesump the finger slot TWICE when it's open,negating the button effect altogether?The forhead is also interesting.

Posted by: dizzy at February 10, 2005 03:11 PM

The obvious solution to this problem of the the button being mounted underneath the tray is to simply mount the CD drive in the computer upside down. Voila! Now the button is on top. Not a problem at all now.

Posted by: Freedomhammer at February 21, 2005 07:53 PM

Putting a drive up side down does not always work.What if the little tab things on your drive bearly work.You would have to hold the disk on the tray press the button and hold the disk there until the tray is about half way in. Another way is to put the circuit board,motor on the top so you have a button on the top and you put the laser on the bottom so you can still put the disk in normally.Also in a previous post someone mentioned about putting sensors on a drive so you just have to wave your hand to open and close.what if you were in

the middle of a game or something and you moved

a little to much, well your disc is going to be

ejected and if you are running windows you will

get the Blue Screen of Death also has anyone ever ran into a problem when your drive refuses

to eject the disc?

Posted by: unknown at March 3, 2005 03:23 PM

ummm... this is really dumb. it -would- be broken, if you couldn't simply push... in... the stupid... drive!


Posted by: Bob at March 28, 2005 08:56 PM

yes as bad as we all hate it, leaning over to feel for the button sounds perfectly terrible but ohh well maby thire trying to strengthen out mucles, to see how long we can stand it.

Posted by: james at April 24, 2005 09:13 PM

If you dont like where the fucking button is then why the hell dont you fix it yourself?

Posted by: God at April 28, 2005 12:27 PM


My dell laptop fell on the floor…. Hard drive came out trough the keyboard, battery also cracked. But the most bad part is my cd rom fly out with the peace of the mother board. I tried and they told me that cd part they can fix for $149.99 and only after they going to fix this connection I can see if the cd rom is working on not. They also told me that because of the hit, my hard drive may also not work. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Dennis at May 17, 2005 08:55 AM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: