It’s been years since Apple has built an optical drive into a new Mac. The last model with the feature was the 2012 non-Retina MacBook Pro, which was officially discontinued in October 2016 (though the highly configurable MacBook Pro remains very popular). And fewer and fewer PCs feature optical drives, meaning most computers in the world that are currently available are without native optical capabilities.
Despite this, optical media still has a crucial role for many users such as serving as long-term storage (these discs hold data for 1,000 years), and making it easier to share large files like movies and photo libraries. Optical drives also make it possible to access old media that only exists on discs.
In cases where users still need to use optical media for long-term storage, it’s still important to be able to identify on the surface what is on the CD, DVD or Blu-rays that you’ve burned (beyond scribbling with a sharpie). For this, disc label creation apps have come in handy over the years, and the Rocket Yard has rounded up a few free ways that you can still customize discs by printing to custom labels.
Mac or PC: Word Templates (Free)
Whether you have a Mac or PC, you can take advantage Microsoft Word for a huge number of free templates. Sites like World Label, Avery and Neato have their own Word templates that you can download and customize anyway that you would like. You can even download a Photoshop, Illustrator, PDF and Apple Pages file if you prefer.
Check our quick design below that we created by using the template from Avery. With Word templates, importing images and texts for your designs is easy.
Mac: CD DVD Cover Pro (Free with optional upgrade)
The once-popular Smile DiscLabel app is no longer supported in more recent versions of macOS. But there are still options that are available from the Mac App Store. CD DVD Cover Pro is a more professional level tool for designing CD, DVD and Blu-ray labels as well as cases, booklets and covers.
The downside to this option is that without purchasing the full version, there will be watermarks on the designs. It’s up to you if you can live with that or if you would rather shell out $20 for the pro version to make custom designs sans watermarks.
Of course, after designing your new label, you’ll have to print it with the correct label paper to ensure that it applies properly and stays. You’ll also need a compatible printer that’s properly calibrated. If you don’t have an available printer, contact your local office supply store.
While some options such as Smile DiscLabel are being phased out with the dwindling use of optical media, printing CD labels can still be very useful. Do you have a favorite app or template for printing labels? Let us know in the comments section!