Apple SuperDrive on MacBook Air with a powered USB hub?

(Sam Silverman) #1

My 10 year old Mac Mini passed away quietly (Hard Drive? Power Supply? Both?) . Whatever the cause, it doesn’t matter. I had a Time Machine Backup and bought a new Mac Book Air (with USB-C ports).

I got a USB-C to VGA / USB-A/ USB-C adapter and it works fine. I’ve got my external keyboard and monitor as well as a few other items plugged in and all works perfectly.

Until I plugged in my Apple Super Drive. If I plug it into my powered USB hub I get a message that says (approximately) “Apple Super drive requires power. Plug it directly into the computer.”

So I eject my 2 external hard drives (Time Machine and other - both of which work fine, BTW), unplug the power USB hub and plug the Super Drive into the USB hub on the adapter where the hub was plugged in and…nothing.

No indication on a Finder window that it exists and no message that it requires power.

Am I doing something wrong? Is the device not compatible with MacAir? Is it defective?

Anyone have any ideas?



(Ray Kloss) #2

I think this is more an issue with the SuperDrive which wants to be connected directly to the computer. I had a USB hub that split a port to 4 ports and brought them around from the back of my iMac. When I plugged in my Superdrive, it also wanted would not run and requested power. So I bought the accessory converter for the hub and plugged it in. The SuperDrive still refused to work. If I plug the SuperDrive directly into the iMac, or use an extender for a single port, that works.

I contacted the people that I bought the AC converter from to complain about the lack of power. Their response was “oh yeah, that works for everything except a SuperDrive” and blamed it on Apple. I guess I agree is this instance.

(Sam Silverman) #3

So a single adapter USB-C to USB would work?

(Simon) #4

Yeah, just get an A-to-C dongle and connect it straight to your MBA.

(Sam Silverman) #5

Thanks! I’ll order it now.

(Simon) #6

There’s a huge selection on Amazon. Most are inexpensive, especially if you buy several in a bundle they get super cheap.

This is a inexpensive little adapter. $3.39

This one’s nice if you’d prefer a short cord for some flexibility (probably not necessary with SD though since it already has a short cord). $4.99

Looks cheap, but what I like is that it’s rated for 3 Amps (SD has increased wattage). $8.17

(Al Varnell) #7

But fair warning…Apple has become increasingly restrictive of cables and adapters that it determines aren’t on their list of compliant such devices. Be prepared to return to Amazon any that don’t work for you. Reviews from fellow Mac users may be of use here.

(Alan Forkosh) #8

As I recall, the Apple Super Drive draws more power than allowed by the USB spec, but Apple provided an exception for it in the software driving Mac USB ports in legacy (pre USB-C) Macs. Other optical disk rives often had two USB plugs to supply the additional power. As I recall, on a MacBook, my portable LG BluRay ddid not require me to plug in the 2nd plug (a good thing as the 2 USB ports were on opposite sides of the laptop).

(Simon) #9

Definitely good advice, @alvarnell. They are becoming more restrictive (probably rightly so considering some of the junk on the market) so checking Mac user reviews would be wise.

(Sam Silverman) #10

Well, I’ve ordered an “apple” adapter (USB-C to USB) from Amazon. It should be here today and I’ll post results.

Thanks all for - as always - excellent advice!


(Sam Silverman) #11

So the Apple USB-C to USB adapter arrived and …


Plug the drive into the adapter and the adapter into the MacAir, go to Finder and…


Oh well.

Perhaps the drive is defective.

(Simon) #12

Bummer. At this point I’d also start being wary of the drive.

Do you have another Mac with USB-A to test it on plugged in straight? Otherwise, maybe you could just take it to an Apple store and plug it into one if their show case Macs that still have USB-A.

(Sam Silverman) #13

Well, that’s the answer. I’ll borrow a mac and try it out.

Oh well. At least I got a nice adapter for my trouble…

(Sam Silverman) #14

OK. The saga continues! I borrowed a friends MacBook Air (older model with a standard USB port. I plugged it in and - Nothing. No indication on finder that it exists.

I sighed and was about to haul it out when she said: “Try putting something in and see if it takes.”

I tried an old CD. The drive happily swallowed it up and reported it was blank. I don’t think it was, but I ejected it and tried a DVD.

DVD player popped up and it started playing the movie.

I moved the drive back to my MacAir. Plugged it into an extension port and it wouldn’t take a disc. Plugged the adapter (USB-C to USB) directly into the MacAir, popped in a DVD and it brought up DVD Player and began to play the movie.


But it works. At least to play DVDs. More experimentation will be required to see if additional functionality exists.

Weird. And uncharacteristic for Apple.


(Mark Williamson) #15

That is consistent with the behavior of built in optical drives on older models. The drive itself never showed up in the Finder, only an inserted data volume.

Mark W from my iPhone

(Seth Anderson) #16

You can also go into About This Mac / System Report

(Sam Silverman) #17

Mark - You are correct. I plug in a blank DVD and it shows up in finder.

Good call!

(Sam Silverman) #18

Seth -

System Report under Disc Burning shows an Apple Superdrive.

Another good call.


(StuartJ) #19

In a related story, last year I replaced my existing Mac computers with a 2017 21.5" i7 iMac and wanted to use DVD disks with it.

I have an older external DVD drive (USB 3) and tested it with the new iMac and could not get Finder to recognise it so I put the drive aside.

I purchased an external new DVD drive from OWC ( that it uses a USD 3.1 connection. Finder did not see it until I rebooted the iMac, with a DVD in it or not. I was very confused until then.

After getting the new DVD drive to work post reboot ; I now believe I need to go back and retest that older unit at some point.

For me, rebooting made the DVD drive appear.

1 Like
(Gareth Wordingham) #20

While its nice to see old hardware continue doing its job, it is an 11 year old design and there are significantly better options these days. Rather than spending money buying dongles, getting a third-party drive with the correct plug and no requirement for extra power plugs will be simpler in the long run. At the same time why not get a blu-ray drive as they’re not much more expensive and it’ll probably be the last disc spinner you ever buy.

I have had several third party drives both DVD and blu-ray and yet to have any compatibility issues with the MacOS.