How To: Get your external Super Drive working in Lion

Every once in awhile I like to post a tip that will likely help only one other person on the planet. Today is such a time.

As some of you may know, I recently replaced my MacBook Pro’s internal SuperDrive with an SSD drive. I chose the MCE Optibay kit for both its ease of installation, and also because it included an external enclosure for my SuperDrive (basically turning my internal drive into an external USB-powered one), so on those rare occasions where I actually needed to burn or read a DVD, I could.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the day after upgrading to Lion I needed to rip something in Handbrake. This worked fine in Snow Leopard, so imagine my surprise (really, TRY to imagine it) when I popped in a DVD and got THIS message from the DVD Player App:

External Superdrive in Lion

What the?!? this worked fine in Snow Leopard!

“There was an initialization error. A valid DVD drive could not be found. [-70012]”
This error sucked for a couple reasons. First, this drive worked just fine in Snow Leopard – I didn’t have to do anything other than plug it in to get it to play a DVD. Second, it’s one of those error messages that really doesn’t give you any info or course of action other than to say “Crap. It looks like a hardware error, and what the hell am I supposed to do with that?” And Third, I knew it WASN’T a hardware error since the DVD Showed up on the desktop and in Finder – it was just that the DVD Player App couldn’t see it.

Well, luckily for me, I have many smart faithful readers, and luckily for YOU, I am going to tell you what I learned. Faithful Macenstein reader Jens pointed me to an article over at hardwrk that fixed my problem, and at the risk of plagiarism (and because their screenshots are in German and I want to get this info out there) here’s a quick run through of the steps to get Lion to recognize your now EXTERNAL, formerly internal, SuperDrive.

Step 1: You’re going to need to slightly modify the DVDPlayback framework on your Mac, and to do that, you need a Hex editor. Download 0xed. You’re basically going to do a “Find and Replace” on that file, changing all instances of the word “Internal” to “External”. But a regular text editor can’t do that.

Step 2: Back up the file /System/Library/Frameworks/DVDPlayback.framework/Versions/A/DVDPlayback by Option + dragging a copy to your desktop, or somewhere else on your computer. I then renamed the file by adding the word “ORIG” to the end. You should too. This is just so if you screw things up you can always put the original file back, but you’re not going to screw anything up.

Step 3: Open the file in 0xed. It should look like this:

External Superdrive in Lion - 0xed

Step 4: Hit Command + F (Find) or go to EDIT> FIND> FIND, and then type in “Internal” in the top FIND box, and type “External” in the bottom REPLACE box. I left “Ignore case” checked, and then hit REPLACE ALL.

External Superdrive in Lion - Oxed

Step 5: You probably won’t be able to save the file over itself, so you’ll need to do a SAVE AS. Save the file to your desktop (good thing you renamed your old version ORIG, right?). Now just drag that file back into the /System/Library/Frameworks/DVDPlayback.framework/Versions/A/ folder, overwriting the old file. (You may have to give your admin password to modify the file).

Step 6: That should be it. Try plugging in your external drive and verify that it works. If it still doesn’t, then, sorry. I got no other ideas. But it should.

External Super Drive in Lion

HOORAY! DVD Player now launches!

179 Responses to “How To: Get your external Super Drive working in Lion”
  1. David says:

    This worked for me as well. I replaced the dead internal optical drive in my 27″ iMac with an SSHD drive and I was getting the same initialization error. Running 10.9.4. Thanks so much!

  2. Peter Lim says:

    I normally don’t comment on anything but this was by far the clearest and simplest set of instructions. After hours upon hours of failed efforts, within a matter of minutes my problem was solved and I’m now able to use my SuperDrive that I enclosed in a USB drive on my 2009 MBP. Best part was the step by step instructions for 0eED! Thanks!

  3. Suzy says:

    Hi, Can you please help me- I dont know how to find “System/Library/Frameworks/DVDPlayback.framework/Versions/A/DVDPlayback”. Where is this? I downloaded OxED, but dont know how to search for the system library thing.


    • B Carter says:

      You have to go to your hard drive and open the System folder, then the Library Folder, etc for each “/” until you get to the DVDPlayback file.

  4. B Carter says:

    Saved me! Everything worked after my SSD upgrade except the DVD Player App (could have watched them in VLC worst case). Thank you for helping to get my external Super Drive working again in 10.6.8 (old school). For those who are trying to do the same, you may also need to type the following into your terminal window:
    sudo nvram boot-args=”mbasd=1″

  5. P McKay says:

    Thank you posting this straightforward and easy to understand solution. It worked perfectly for me!

  6. I have a 2008 iMac and the internal drive died a long time ago. So I bought an external dvd/cd writer. I(t worked okay until a while back.

    Today I found and tried both suggestions listed here and I still cannot burn a cd!

    H E L P ! ! !

  7. Gunnar says:

    Thank’s to you and to Jens Work lika a charm :-)

  8. Mike says:


    I replaced my internal DVD Superdrive with another SSD drive in my Macbook pro. I bought the external version of the superdrive from apple only to find out it wouldn’t work. So now (with your hack) I have a raid 0 1TB drive in my macbook and a working external DVD superdrive. Thanks

  9. Seabuoy says:

    Glad I came here for help with this. Step by step instructions were pretty much fail proof. I’ll be perusing the rest of the site and checking here first for any technical assistance. Thanks.

  10. Brendon says:

    Thanks, this worked so smoothly; thank you for such clear instructions! I replaced my SuperDrive with an SSD: 15″ mid 2010 MacBook Pro, OSX 10.10.1, and couldn’t get it to connect externally…but now, no problem!

  11. Mehmet says:

    This really worked for me too. Thank you very much for the simple and such clear instructions. I replaced my SuperDrive with an SSD: 13? mid 2010 MacBook Pro, OS X 10.10.1. I have no problem.

  12. Mika Salakka says:

    Can confirm that this works beautifully and flawlessly for Yosemite 10.10.1 on a Mackintosh machine.

    Thank you for this article, it has saved me a lot of time and headache.

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