Burning Windows Readable CD's from your Mac

Mac OS X Tiger has a neat new feature for burning CD's: from the Finder's file menu, you choose New Burn Folder, and then drag whatever you want to burn into that new folder. Open the folder, and you'll notice a "Burn" button just above the files. Pop a blank CD in and click that to burn the files to CD.

Unfortunately, the result is only valid on a Mac - you can't read it on a Windows or Linux machine, and there's no apparent way to make it work.

This has changed with Leopard. The default for Burn folders now creates a hybrid image.

There is a command line method to create what Apple calls a "hybrid" image:

 hdiutil makehybrid -iso -o ~/newfile ~/pathtoyourfolder

That creates a file that diskutil can burn or you can just burn it yourself:

It may not be obvious that if you wanted to copy a Windows cd (make duplicates) then your ~/pathtoyourfolder would be where the Windows CD gets mounted after inserting it: /Volumes/WindowsCD for example. After making the hybrid image, you'd eject the CD, insert a blank, and proceed.

 hdiutil burn ~/newfile.iso

Note that you specified "newfile" but it created "newfile.iso" so that's what you need to burn. The cd created will be readable on a Windows or Linux machine (or any OS that can read ISO9660 disks). Make as many copies as you like..

hdiutil has many options; it's worth taking a look at the man page.

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© Tony Lawrence

Thu Dec 6 12:52:44 2007: 3297   TonyLawrence

This changed with Leopard: the Burn folder now creates a hybrid cd.

Fri May 29 15:45:31 2009: 6425   anonymous

I just want to say thanks for your concise but tremendously helpful article on burning Windows-friendly (ISO format) images from OS X.

Just to explain the subject: I am a last-year student at a secondary school / college in England (pre-university). I've become a notable photographer by many of the staff, so when their usual photographer couldn't make the 2009 prom, I was asked to bring my equipment and set up a photo-booth for people, so they could have pictures of themselves with friends and loved ones on their last day together.

However, if the stress of the evening wasn't enough, I was also expected to make 300 copies of a CD with said photos on them, to be given out the following fortnight. No big deal: I had a free week, my MacBook Pro and a few spare machines laying around. Being the geeky type, I pieced together an Automator workflow that would churn out copy after copy of the CD, made from the image of a Burn folder.

Well, after making the first batch of 50, I found out about hdiutil, and started using that as a lighter-weight approach to the burning. I make a few copies, and out of curiosity, took one to the lone Windows PC in the house to see if I had gotten the image to burn correctly. It wouldn't read.

Oh dear. Fearing the worst, I took a few random CDs from my stack of 50 already burned, and took them over to check them. Half of them didn't read. In a bit of a panic, I started burning the image with different flags turned on and off, re-imaging a master CD I knew worked, etc. It wasn't until I found your short article on the subject that I finally found that the image itself was the problem. I may have a stack of useless CDs, but at least I won't be wasting any more time.

Thanks again! If I had not known, I imagine the students would be waiting an awful long time for their prom photographs, at the expense of my sanity.

Fri Oct 9 09:22:04 2009: 7158   anonymous

Here is an easy method for burning ISO from Mac OS X.

Fri Oct 9 12:32:35 2009: 7160   TonyLawrence

Here is an easy method for burning ISO from Mac OS X.

What you meant to say was "Here is a pointless program that nobody needs but I want to sell", right?

Thu Apr 15 00:53:05 2010: 8419   CrazyChucky


Ooh, this is awesome! I did some reading in the man page and can now do exactly what I wanted to do but couldn't with Disk Utility: make a hybrid disc, with some files visible only in Windows and some only in OS X, that will autorun a file on the former and auto-open itself on the latter. Gotta love the command line. Thanks for the tip!

Sun Oct 24 22:00:12 2010: 9063   anonymous


What an awesome hint!

I was looking for an app to do this, found the various linux/windows command line ports, but this is the simplest yet.

Thank you.

Tue Oct 9 22:51:46 2012: 11375   TonyLawrence


Mountain Lion (10.8) lets you drag files to a blank cd/dvd and then burn them Much easier:

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