How to fix “The disc can’t be burned, because the device failed to calibrate the laser power level for this media” error

This post may only be helpful to one person, but as I always say, if you can help just ONE person… then you may as well have not even bothered. But just in case this helps TWO people, I will post it anyway.

Last week I attempted to burn a DVD in my 2008 MacBook Pro for the first time in about 2 years, and was greeted by a somewhat cryptic but high tech error message which read:

Mac OSX disc burning error

“The disc can’t be burned, because the device failed to calibrate the laser power level for this media.”

Thinking the error message must be saying I had a bum disc, I tried two others without success before trying to burn one on a nearby Mac Pro, which went off without a hitch. Being lazy, I Tweeted to my loyal followers who suggested I reset the SMC with no success (Well, actually they suggested I reset the SMC WITH success, but I couldn’t seem to do that).

Anyway, long story short, the quick cheap fix was to blow compressed air into the DVD slot. The only trick is you need a can of compressed air with the straw attachment, as you have to blow through the then rubber membrane that covers the DVD drive slot and you need to get pretty close for the air to be powerful enough to get through. I ASSUME this membrane is designed to keep out dust but obviously it isn’t foolproof. Of course, usual compressed air etiquette applies, so use short bursts to avoid shooting freezing cold goo into your computer.

So, despite an error message that might lead you to assume a bad disc or some sort of drive or power failure, the culprit appears to just be dust. The result, below, is success.

Mac OSX disc burning error

153 Responses to “How to fix “The disc can’t be burned, because the device failed to calibrate the laser power level for this media” error”
  1. Eric says:

    OMG best/quickest/really worked tip of all tips ever! Thanks!

  2. Another satisfied customer says:

    I love you man

  3. You Rock says:

    OH thank you! I so needed this right now!

  4. Cher Williams says:

    How helpful was this???OMG you are a superman!. I have a heck of a time with iMACs and writing DVD/CDs. This worked.

    Thanks again

  5. luke says:

    Well, seems like this has helped more than one or two. Fingers crossed it’ll work for me. Now, to my local camera shop for a can of air…

  6. Andrés says:

    Thanks thanks and thanks!!!
    This is what needed!!
    You’re a genius!!

  7. KM says:

    Thanks! This worked for me!

  8. IM says:

    I have the exact same problem. I’ve tried the compressed air but has not worked. Maybe I’m not doing it correctly. Where exactly did you guys spray? (Up, down, sideways?)

  9. JacobCee says:

    Best TIP ever, like EVER!

  10. sooz2000 says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! i am on deadline…having to catch a plane in 2 hours and was TRYING and TRYING to get family photos burned to CD with no luck. and then i found this post. i’m able to burn CDs successfully now.

  11. Ieva says:

    Just thought I’d mention… Compressed air did not work for me. But after reading on several forums I tried clean fiber free cloth (such as spectacles cloth) wrapped over a credit card. Sounds scary sticking anything inside the drive, but it is much more robust than you think.

  12. jlh says:

    Well I tried the creditcard thing and that worked while the compressed air did not. Thank you!

  13. I had the same problem but no Compressed air in the office. I just put my mouth up to the MacBookPro DVD slot and gave a few forceful puffs of air and now it works like a charm. Thanks for the tip!

  14. mds1950 says:

    Add my name to the list of those helped. A 2009 MacBook Pro that has been working great suddenly would not burn a Memorex DVD-R. Tried a System Preference fix with the language setting, but no luck with that. Have just burned 2 disks back to back – thanks for the tip.

  15. Obama says:

    This didn’t work for me, but I like you anyway. Vote for me and I will continue to destroy the country. In the meantime, please know that if you vote for me, I will name my baby-momma after you. Time to light up a blunt.

  16. Obama says:

    Hey, I take that back. It did work. What’s your name my brother so I can name my baby-momma and my baby-daddy after you?

  17. BarbaraL says:

    Awesome, thank you. I honestly didn’t think I was going to find an answer to this little error message. TOmorrow I’ll be going to buy some compressed air with a straw!

  18. StephanieMay says:

    Love you Leva! I didn’t have air…but had a cc. Worked like a charm. How easily we become distrought when our macs don’t work.

  19. Kelley says:

    Thank you – you just helped another!

  20. Lisa Koehler says:

    Thank you so much! This totally worked. It took a couple of tries but then the CD finally burned! You have helped way more than two people!

  21. Jacob says:

    OMG (and I never use that term), I can’t believe that worked. That was f***ing amazing! I can’t believe that worked.

    (That just justified the fact that I’ve had that air can sitting in a box unused for the past, um, 15 years!)

  22. SarahH says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! It worked! I hadn’t had much hope that it would, I had been fighting with is all day! You are a life saver!

  23. Chrissy Martin says:

    Love it. Fixed it!

  24. Elle says:


    I did exactly what you said but it did not work for me. However, I am able to burn to a CD, but the moment I try burning to a DVD I get the error message again. I have gone through the whole process about three times. How many squirts of the can of compressed air should you give? I have almost emptied the can!

    This is so frustrating! What am I doing wrong?

    Please help!

  25. Elle says:

    Okay, so after the compressed air didn’t work, I tried the credit card thing as a last resort and to my surprise it actually worked!

  26. Elle says:

    Okay, so the credit card thing didn’t work, I got exited too quickly. About half way through I got the message again… Thanks anyway everyone!

  27. Stacy says:

    Thank you!!! I was so worried I had a broken mac on my hands. Yay for disc burning!!!

  28. Tony says:

    We have a winner. No compressed air here, but after blowing in it, I cleaned the interior with a lens cloth and used a ID card as the stiffener. Two good swipes was all it took. This computer has seen plenty of dust in the 2.75 years I’ve had it, including a year in Afghanistan. As bad as that is, Iraq is much dustier.

  29. andrew says:

    Haven’t burnt a disc in years and had the same exact problem. Gonna have to get some canned air!

  30. Kim Nodurft says:

    OMG! You’re a genius! I can’t thank you enough! My poor clients have been waiting on their images while I’ve tried everything to get my burner to work! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  31. Well i should just add to this that ot worked! But the cool thing was it was midnight and had to burn wedding DVD for 5 in morning and i didn’t have a air can…

    fortunetely later i had an inspiration…i’m a photographer, so i must have some thin cleaning material….Went to get it and boom there was the hand air pump compressor for cleaning lens and glass bingo…8 poofs later boom…we have lift off!

    Muchos gracias senor!

  32. muer says:

    great tip. i had the same problem while burning img to a dvd. reading has no issue, but burning always got the exact error. blew the tray and slot multiple times, still not working , until i reduced the burning speed from 16x to 4x. . now working smoothly.

  33. valkmancarl says:

    You just saved another person a lot of heartache.
    Thanks man.

  34. amy says:

    dude. you are my HERO. air duster can totally worked.

  35. Tamlyn says:

    Thank you!!! This happens to me from time and time, and I really needed this cd to burn for a photography job. Thank you for helping yet another person!


  36. bev says:

    I’m throwing you an internet kiss. THANK YOU!

  37. Michael Poplawski says:

    Hey! Glad I found this! This saved my MacBook Pro’s drive from being recalibrated through percussion!

  38. John Carlin says:

    Worked like a charm. Thanks!

  39. Kathy says:

    Air worked like a charm. Burned several disks… Error happened again after 2 weeks. Tried card. Won’t work again!!!! This is so frustrating. Thank you for the suggestion as i was able to burn for a handful of clients!!!

  40. greg says:

    thanks much! it worked! i had a deadline to meet so this was especially helpful!!

  41. Lindsay says:

    Credit card with cloth worked, awesome

  42. Thank you, that was very helpful!

  43. Lauren says:

    THANK YOU!!! I was getting worried since I had to make a deadline and my 2009 macbook pro wasn’t burning the disc. It worked perfectly after your tip. Very helpful!

  44. Alastair says:

    I was in utter panic as my Xmas presents to my sister and my girlfriend were supposed to be mixes of classical music that I had spent ages choosing and I knew they would love, and my drive was giving this error message and I assumed it had died. The credit card trick with a camera cloth worked first time!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH.

  45. Lawgiz says:

    Humbly….Thank You!!!!!

  46. Candy says:

    Wow, this helped! It fixed the problem. THANK YOU!!!!

  47. Jake says:

    Using a fiber cloth over a credit card sounded scary, but I tried it as a last resort, and it really did work!! THANKS!!

  48. Damir says:

    I can’t believe i just wrapped a laminated press pass with a lint free cloth and fixed my issue. The internet is truly amazing.

  49. Scott says:

    Unfortunately I had neither a cloth or compressed air; I opted to blow into the DVD slot opening like a harmonica. Worked like a charm. Probably not the brightest of ideas, but it worked.

  50. dinodog Feb 2013 says:

    Haha.. Thanks so much!!
    I had been failed to burn with any DVD disc with different branded. I first thought it was the DVD branded which caused the issues. Somehow, i followed others advice such as using credit card. With a micro cloth covered with CC. Slide into the dvdrom slot, and wipe left and right for few times. I had no idea what’s inside. I want a quick fix since this was bothering me for over half of year i tried to figure out what’s wrong with it.

    Now it is burning my data into DVD right away!~

    Before that, it is able to read DVD content only.

    From Unibody MBP Late 2008. First and only DVD-rom since the first bought!

Leave A Comment


Click here to inquire about making a fortune by advertising your game, gadget, or site on Macenstein.