How to install software from a CD onto a Macbook Air

Thursday, April 14, 2011 12:34 pm By BigLig

I had a user ask me how to install some old software on their Air that they only had on CD.

I thought I'd post my reply up here to remind myself that I actually write quite a lot for my work. (And IMHO this is rather good.)

First thing to do is to see if the software is available for download from the hardware manufacturerís web site.

You should do this anyway even if you have a Mac with an optical drive, because the CD that comes in the box is inevitably going to be out of date.

If not, then you need another machine with a CD/DVD drive. On that machine you can do one of three things:

1) Share the optical drive over the network.
Go to follow their very good instructions.

2) Make a disk image and copy it a USB stick.
Takes a little longer, but this is really useful for any optical you might need to use more than once, or when you might need to access the disk on the Air when away from the other machine.
I have a portable USB drive with all my CDís stored on it as images.
On a Mac, this is super easy.
Start Disk Utility.
Select the CD in the left hand list.
Press the New Image button.
Say where to put the image and what to call it.
Once the image is made, copy to a USB stick, then move the stick to the Air.
Double-click the image file on the Air (you can leave it on the USB stick or copy to the Air's disk) and it will mount just as if youíd put a CD in.
On Windows, there isnít a built in tool to make a disk image, but if you have CD-burning software installed it often has this as a feature. It's usually called something "Make ISO image" or "Create Image".
If not, there is a lovely little piece of free software you can use at
Download the appropriate version for your Windows, install it, then right-click the CD in My Computer and choose "Create Image from CD".

3) Copy the files from the CD to a USB stick
Quick and dirty.
Open My Computer or the Finder, select the files on the CD, Edit Copy, go to the USB stick, Edit Paste.
I left this method to last because sometimes software expects to be on a CD, and sometimes a Windows PC doesn't read a Mac disk very well, and so on, and so forth so it might not always work.

Hope this helps someone.

BTW, while we're on the subject, isn't the Snow Leopard reinstall tool that comes with an Air beautiful?