How to Eject a Removable Volume from Your MacBook

Mac OS X makes use of both static volumes (your MacBook’s hard drive, which remains mummified inside your computer’s case) and removable volumes (such as USB Flash drives, external hard disks, your iPod, and CDs/DVD-ROMs). Mac OS X calls the process of loading and unloading a removable volume by old-fashioned terms — mounting and unmounting — but you probably call the procedure loading and ejecting.

Static and removable volumes have nothing to do with the sound volume control on your menu bar.

The process of loading/mounting a removable volume differs depending on the computer because some MacBooks need a button pushed on the keyboard, others have buttons on the drive itself, and some drives have just a slot, with no button at all. However, there are a number of standard ways of unloading/unmounting/ejecting a removable volume:

  • Drag the Volume’s icon from the Desktop to the Trash, which displays an Eject pop-up label to help underline the fact that you are not deleting the contents of the drive. Switchers from the Windows world are usually scared to death by the concept of dragging a volume to the Trash.

    In the Apple universe, you can drag removable volumes to the Trash with aplomb.

  • Click the volume’s icon and use the Command+E keyboard shortcut.

  • With the volume open in a Finder window, click the Action button and choose Eject from the pop-up menu.

  • Click the File menu and choose Eject.

  • Click the Eject button next to the device in the Finder window sidebar.

  • Right-click the Volume’s icon to display the contextual menu; then choose Eject.

  • Press your MacBook’s keyboard Eject key to eject a CD or DVD from your built-in optical drive. (If you’re using an external keyboard without a Media Eject key, you may be able to press and hold F12 instead.)

You can’t unmount a static volume from the Desktop — you have to use the Disk Utility application — so your internal hard drive icon will stay where it is.

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