Viewing a CD-ROM

I’m thinking of buying a film book - Bordwell and Thompson’s classic Film Art - An introduction. It’s the 8th edition and comes with a CD-ROM… I have an external DVD player (USB). I’m using a MBPro M1 2021 running latest Sonoma. Photo of the CD_ROM in link below. Will my mac see and play the film clips that are stored on it?

My guess is No. But I could be wrong.

The disc lists as system requirements:

  • WIndows 98SE, 2000 SP 4, XP Professional SP 2, Internet browser
  • Macintosh OS 10.2.8, 10.3.9, 10.4, Internet browser

and has logos for Macromedia Shockwave & QuickTime.

On the plus side, the fact it is listing both Windows and Mac implies this is a CD-ROM with a hybrid file system: both Windows (perhaps Joliet) and HFS. And the videos may be QuickTime

But, there are obstacles:

  • A modern macOS may not be able to read the HFS file system on the CD-ROM.
  • You can’t get Shockwave Player anymore.
  • Modern macOS can’t play Quicktime with old codecs
  • Modern web browsers won’t load the old Shockwave plugin

The best bet would be a virtual machine running an old version of Windows or OS X. But even there, the problem is acquiring the old software. You’d need an old web browser, with old Shockwave, old Quicktime. (The CD-ROM may include the Shockwave and Quicktime installers.)

If your Mac or a virtual machine can read the CD-ROM, then you may be able to dig through the files to find the QuickTime videos - which will probably have cryptic names – and then directly play them with something like VLC Player. That is, bypass the Shockwave multi-media interface.


Thank you. I also have a 2015 MBPro (Intel) running the latest OS it will run - Monterey 12.7. I may take the chance and buy the book as it’s cheap. Perhaps I can, if necessary, run an older Mac OS as a virtual machine.

A Windows emulator like Crossover might work, if it can be configured to see the CD.

I have an even older CD-ROM that I wish I could read with a Mac. It is the Murmurs of the Earth CD that contains a copy of the gold records on the two Voyager spacecraft. It came with a PC EXE file for viewing the contents but I cannot get it to run with a Windows emulator (but, thinking about it I might try DOSBox later today).

BTW - The gold records are likely to become the oldest human cultural artefacts in the very, very distant future as the Voyager spacecraft drift through the Milky Way galaxy. By then the Sun will have become a red giant, destroying any evidence of life on Earth (hopefully it will have moved elsewhere :smile:). The records are a legacy of Carl Sagan.

Update - Voyager 1 just phoned home after no contact for several months:


In my limited experience, a lot of very old media content (including Flash/Shockwave and old QuickTime codecs) can be played by VLC.

If the CD is, indeed, in HFS (no “plus”) format, it will be difficult to read on a modern Macintosh. You could probably boot your 2015 MacBook Pro in Linux using live media (no need to install) and read the files off the disc. For example, the Linux distro I’m running right now, Fedora 39, has the ability to create a live-boot USB stick and has the kernel drivers to read HFS (non-plus) file systems.


btw, this looks like a great book, I hope the CD-ROM turns out to be viable

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I’m thinking could mount the Windows file system on the CD-ROM instead of HFS.

I’ve had no problems with most CD’s. I’ve always had Macs (now M2 MBA/Sonoma), and long ago I bought an “external odd & hdd device” (manufacturer unknown) which connects via USB (older format). I’m sure it wasn’t very expensive. I have many CDs, commercial and home-recorded by somebody, no idea what format they are, but certainly not made especially to be played on a Mac, and have only very rarely been unable to play and store them. The only problem I recall has been due to regional codes on some of them, but even then, I’ve often been able to get around that. Keep in mind, I’m no technical genius and have no other special hard- or software.

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You’ll probably be able to view/listen to most underlying videos and audio files, but if the CD uses Shockwave or similar to drive its interactive features (menus, navigation), you likely will have a problem with those. Shockwave is no longer downloadable from Adobe, and IIRC, it had substantial security problems when it was discontinued.

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It should be in HFS+ - this was introduced in 1998 with OS 8.1 and used until APFS was introduced in 2018.

Well, I offered £2 on eBay and it was accepted! So with postage of £3 it is a bargain even though I have the later 10th edition from 2013. The book is now in its 13th edition with new author Jeff Smith. Sadly David Bordwell died a few days ago. He was a titan of film theory and history. The author’s blog which is a very rich resource for learning is here: Observations on film art

I hope VLC may provide access to the menus for navigation etc as mentioned above.

Except that:

Monterey can read HFS discs (it’s the last version of MacOS that can), so @steve17 should have not trouble reading the CD-ROM on his Intel MBPro. And the Windows filesystem should mount on Sonoma.

The best route is probably to create a disk image of the CD-ROM which can then be used in an emulator. Old software such as Shockwave is easily available at The Macintosh Garden.

The easiest way to run an emulated Mac OS 9 is to download Edward Menelson’s app. You can literally just double-click and it has a lot of useful utilities and apps installed.


Thank you for that info. The MacOS9 emulator works well. Only problem is the window it runs in is small. I may have to find an emulator for OS 10.4 to get a bigger window. Any pointers?

I recently set up a virtual machine running Mac OS X 10.4 using UTM. This is under Sonoma, but I think it should work on any MacOS that UTM supports (back to Big Sur):

The performance of this is surprisingly good, it actually runs faster than I remember 10.4 running natively on my old PPC PowerBook (but that could be faulty memory). I used these instructions as a guid, but happy to answer questions if you run into any issues (if I can!):

Run Tiger, Leopard, or any Mac OS X PowerPC version on M1

The advantage of UTM/10.4 over the Mac OS 9 app is that UTM allows direct access to CDs and USB devices. So you should be able to access the CD-ROM directly in 10.4 if you get UTM running.

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Another option for virtualizing OS X 10.4 Tiger is VirtualBox. But not VMware Fusion.

You’d need a copy of Tiger through. Tiger was not free.

I was wondering how is the video/graphics quality when running under UTM? It sounds like a great solution for M1 computers.

This is surprising. The window size in SheepShaver is configurable; I’m running SheepShaver 2024-02-28 as 1024x768. And the contents of the Window look fine; it isn’t like it is having Retina issues where everything is half the size it should be.

(And, having a large dimension window [in pixels] won’t help anyway, because Quicktime videos from years ago are low resolution and small.)

The problem with the pre-built SheepShaver downloads is you don’t know what SheepShaver version is included. Is it recent? Long ago? Customized? Broken?

All the pre-built version gets you is you don’t have to do the work to get the necessary Mac ROM. But even that isn’t hard these days – it isn’t like it used to be where you had to extract it from your actual Mac. The ROM comes from an Apple MacOS update.

I’ve not tried any videos on this yet to be fair. I created this 10.4 VM to access my old Mac CD/DVD-ROMs which I’m going through, archiving, and disposing of.

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Correct. But since the minimum requirement is 10.2.8, it’s possibility that the Mac session is actually HFS+ or some variant on ISO 9660 (e.g. with the Rock Ridge, Joliet and/or Apple extensions).

The only way to find out is to just put the disc in the drive and see what mounts.

True, and no web browser made today supports the plugin architecture needed to display Shockwave/Flash content in web pages. But there are third-party software packages that might be usable for viewing Shockwave/Flash content outside of a web browser. Which might be sufficient if the apps are self-contained and don’t depend on scripts running as a part of the enclosing web page.

But third-party software, like VLC can. So if you can get access to the video files directly, instead of via the bundled app/web pages, then you can probably play them.

Windows doesn’t use its own file systems on CD-ROMs. It uses the standard ISO-9660 format with Joliet extensions to provide any file system features that aren’t part of ISO-9660. So in the worst case, macOS should be able to mount that. If it doesn’t recognize the extensions, you may see filenames mangled (all upper-case, truncated to 30 characters or maybe to 8.3), but the files should all be present. There might also be a TRANS.TBL file providing a mapping between the ISO names and the proper filenames, which macOS may or may not make use of when mounting the volume.

Most CDs (both burned and commercial) that don’t come from Apple use ISO-9660 format with various extensions to support long filenames and other platform-specific features.

The annoyance is that some CDs (especially those made by Apple) don’t use the ISO standard, but instead use a raw data session that closely resembles an HFS-formatted hard drive. If there is no other file system (CDs can have multiple sessions, each with its own directory tree pointing to the files’ data), then it can be hard to read it on a modern Mac. You’ll need third-party software and/or a computer running an old version of macOS to access the files on these.

See also: TidBITS Talk: HFS access on modern Macs

To be fair, most of its (and Flash’s) security problems exist because of the integration with web browsers (via a plugin). When used as a standalone player app, it is just fine. Or more accurately, a Shockwave or Flash app running on it is equivalent to a native apps in terms of security - be careful running untrusted content, but don’t worry about it if the content comes from a trusted source. And I would include content from a mass-marked CD distribution.

But it’s mostly moot since Adobe no longer distributes this software and archived copies probably won’t run on modern Macs (I assume it’s all 32-bit Intel code). But maybe there are third-party player apps that might work, if you can run the content separately from the web page that originally embedded it.

VirtualBox (last I checked) attempts to comply with Apple’s licensing terms. So you’d need a server edition of Mac OS X 10.4 in order to install it. And you’d need an Intel build (that is, an installation disc bundled with first-generation Intel Mac hardware), since VirtualBox doesn’t emulate PowerPC hardware and Apple didn’t include an Intel build of Mac OS X with the packaged distributions until version 10.5.

You’d probably have better luck with a later build of Mac OS X (10.5 or 10.6), even though the CD-ROM doesn’t officially support them, or get a PowerPC emulator to run 10.2 through 10.4 (if you have installation media).