Recently, we got a question from a reader who was having trouble with the CDs she was burning. Other people using other types of computers couldn't read her CDs.
When I was working with a Mac-only print house, I ran into this problem too. At the risk of inciting flames, I have to say that the Mac people there were utterly unhelpful and I ended up figuring this out for myself. (Yes, I know, I should have found another printer!) The bottom line is that CDs you burn are not necessarily compatible with other systems unless you make them so.
Here are a few tips to maximize the portability of the disks you burn:
* Make sure you are burning to a CD-R disk, not a CD-RW disk. CD-RW requires special formatting that normal CD drives have problems with, even on another Windows computer.
* If your computer supports drag-and-drop burning from Windows Explorer, don't use it. You need to use the CD burning software instead and identify the files you want to copy from there. The drag-and-drop feature sometimes requires that additional software be loaded onto the CD. This software, which must be loaded on the destination machine before the disk can be read, won't run on a Mac.
* When you burn your CD-R, set the formatting so it uses ISO-9660. If there are other settings that simplify the formatting, like using 8.3 (DOS) file names instead of long names, use them. You basically want a plain, ISO-9660 disk with no special features.
Finally, test your disk on other computers. Even if you don't have access to a Macintosh, if your CD won't work in another Windows machine, you can bet it won't work on a Mac either.