How to Tell if a Computer Can Burn a DVD

By Jason Artman

Although the majority of the computers sold today can both read and write DVDs, a few recently manufactured computers are only able to read DVD discs. If you purchased your computer used, you may be unsure as to the exact capabilities of your machine. Examine your computer's hardware configuration to determine whether the computer can burn DVDs.

Windows Computers

Step 1

Examine the optical drive itself. Most optical drives have logos showing their capabilities. If you see a logo on the front of the drive with the letters "DVD-R" or "DVD-RW," your computer can burn DVDs. If your drive has no logos on the front, continue to the next step.

Step 2

Hit the "Windows" logo and "R" keys on the keyboard simultaneously. Type "devmgmt.msc" into the "Run" dialog box and hit "Enter" to bring up the Device Manager.

Step 3

Click the plus sign next to "DVD/CD-ROM Drives" in the Device Manager. Look for the letters "DVD+-R" or "DVD+-RW." If you see either of these, your computer can burn DVDs.

Step 4

Check the model name of the optical drive if you do not see a string such as "DVD+-RW." Type the full model name (e.g. "HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GSA-T11N ATA Device") into an Internet search engine. The results should include a manufacturer product page (such as LG, in the case of this example). From the product page, you can discern the capabilities of your drive.

Mac Computers

Step 1

Click "Go," then click "Utilities."

Step 2

Double click "System Profiler."

Step 3

Click "Disc Burning", then look under "DVD-Write" on the right side of the window. All of the disc types that the drive can burn (e.g. +R, -R, RW) will be shown.