Multiple Burns

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Alabaman, Mickey Godwin, is interested in creating the kind of multisession CDs that he makes on his Windows PC. He writes:

At work, I have a Dell Optiplex GX270, OS XP and a PowerPC G4, OS 10.3.8. When working with recordable CDs on the Dell, I can create folders, drag files and delete files, and eject the CD as if I’m working with a floppy disk. The CD ejects without going through the usual “burning” process used by the Mac. When I take the CD to my Mac, all the files are accessible. My Dell has Easy CD Creator installed and I assume that’s the software used in creating the CDs. My question is, is there software available for the Mac that works the same way as that used by the Dell?

What you’re describing is something called “packet writing,” a process where a CD is treated like a piece of media that can be written to multiple times. At one time Roxio offered a program called DirectCD that added packet-writing capabilities to versions of the Mac OS prior to OS X. DirectCD has now gone the way of the dodo.

While DirectCD’s packet-writing convenience isn’t available in OS X, it is possible to create CDs that can be burned to multiple times. Panther’s Disk Utility (and Jaguar’s Disk Copy) allow you to create multisession CDs. It’s not, however, the most intuitive process on earth. Here’s how it works in Panther:

Grab the files you want to burn to the disc and place them in a single folder. Launch Disk Utility (found in the Utilities folder) and choose New from Disk Utility’s Images menu and then the Image From Folder command from the submenu. In the resulting Open dialog box, navigate to the folder you created and click Open. In the Convert Image dialog box that appears, name the image and click Save.

Now click the Burn icon in Disk Utility’s toolbar, insert a blank CD, and enable the Leave Disc Appendable option in the sheet that appears. Switching this option on burns the material you chose as a single session. You can burn additional sessions at another time.

The problem is that discs burned this way don’t work on Windows PCs because their format is incompatible with Microsoft’s operating system. There are a few utilities that can burn multisession CDs that work with both Macs and Windows. Of those, I prefer Roxio’s $80 Toast Titanium. It’s not the cheapest utility around, but it’s reliable. Using Toast you can create a CD in a format friendly to both the Mac and Windows PCs. Granted, you can’t do this via drag-and-drop as you could with DirectCD, but it’s less cumbersome than using Disk Utility.

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