Bulk erase CD-RWs and DVD-RWs with Mac OS X Terminal

One of the advantages of Philips’ DVP642 DVD player is its ability to use re-writable CDs and DVDs. Makes it easy to test various encoding programs and settings. Or if you miss an episode of CSI and want to grab it off the ‘net, just burn it, watch it and erase it. There’s no need to burn coaster after coaster of standard CD-Rs.

The adverse side-effect of that approach however, is that you’ll soon find yourself with stacks upon stacks of used CD-RWs and DVD-RWs, discs that will have to be erased on an ad-hoc basis using Disk Utility whenever you need to burn something new.

Fortunately, Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) and later includes a command line tool that will keep asking for discs to erase until you quit the program. The tool itself is a snap to use and will greatly ease the effort of keeping a few blank re-writable discs around.

To access it, open Terminal (in Utilities folder). Type the following line at the prompt:

drutil bulkerase quick

Basically, you’re telling the drutil (Disc Recording utility) tool to launch, go into bulk erasing mode and do a quick erase of every writable disc that’s inserted.

Bulk RW Eraser

Please insert erasable media in [DRIVE NAME]

If you have a burner with a tray, the tray will open. Otherwise, insert the disc into your slot-loading drive. The program will then go to town, rendering that disc writable again.

Erasing… [***********                                                 ] 19%

When it’s finished, the disc will eject and the program will ask for another. Keep giving it discs until you are finished, then type press ctrl-C to quit.


This utility has the potential to be quite dangerous. It will erase any writable media no-questions-asked. It doesn’t give you a chance to confirm or review, so make absolutely sure you want to erase the discs you give to it.

Likewise, if there’s a writable disc in the drive when you start the program, it will immediately begin to erase it, so be careful there. If there’s a non-writable disc in the drive, it will be ejected.

So there you have it; you can now quickly and easily erase your used CD-RW, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW discs. You can also use the command drutil bulkerase full to erase an entire disc, but bear in mind that it will take much longer.

For a full list of options for drutil, type man drutil at any Terminal prompt.

17 November 2006 | tips | Comments

3 Responses to “Bulk erase CD-RWs and DVD-RWs with Mac OS X Terminal”

  1. 1 keke 1 January 2007 @ 6:33 pm

    thank you

  2. 2 Philip 11 March 2007 @ 3:16 pm

    Hi, thanks for this, but to quit it’s pressing ctrl-c and not typing it. At least that worked for me…

  3. 3 Mac DVP642 15 March 2007 @ 7:13 am

    Philip, you are of course correct. Ctrl-C is a standard escape sequence for command line tools. I just stated it awkwardly. One should press the Control key and C key simultaneously to quit.