Burning files to CD or DVD, although gradually becoming an outdated practice, is still a necessary function for many people. Mac OS X comes bundled with some basic disc writing capabilities in iTunes and the Finder, however these options do not give you full control over some of the finer details of burning to optical media
Today I’ll be reviewing the free, open-source burning application (aptly named) Burn. Although keeping things simple on the surface, Burn packs quite a bit of useful power and custom functionality under the hood.
What It Does
Burn provides the standard file-to-disc writing features. At its most basic, the process for burning discs involves dragging the files you need to be written onto the window. Burn can handle almost any file you throw at it. The left column shows each filename, and in the right column the file size is displayed.
Burn checks a disc when you insert to calculate how much free space is available. This lets it keep a live count of the space you will be taking up as you queue up files to be burned.
You can see more disc information by going to, appropriately, ‘Disc Info.’ The available space, what kind of disc you have inserted, and whether or not its writable.
You can give the disc a specific name and, when you’re happy, you simply hit the ‘Burn’ button. That’s it! Now just sit back and wait for the app to finish. The most satisfying part? That hot off the press warmth that the disc has coming out of your DVD drive. Of course that’s just the simplest use case. Next, I’ll go over the specifics for each different mode that Burn has to offer.
With data mode, you have the option to adjust which filesystem you want the disc to be compatible with. You have access to the following:
- HFS+ (Mac only)
- Joliet (Can be read by most computers)
- UDF (The most common format for use with DVDs)
- HFS Standard
Burn can write an Audio CD, MP3 CD, and a DVD-Audio disc. The Audio CD must be burned to a CD, however the MP3 can be burned to any disc. DVD-Audio is supported by some DVD players, and they can contain very high quality audio files.
Burn can also convert between different formats. For instance, when I tried to burn an MP3 disc with files that where .MP4, it offered to convert each file for me. Burn can also create folders for albums and artists, adjust the bit-rate, and the audio mode (mono, or stereo.)
You have access to VCD, SVCD, DVD-Video, and DivX when burning video. DVD-Video is the most common format used to distribute video. You have a lot of options for writing videos with Burn. Which region code (PAL, NTSC), which audio codec, video and audio bitrate and the layout of DVD menu. There are many more details for you to tweak and perfect.
This is a really neat aspect of Burn. You choose a disc image and an already existing disc. This feature works just like any of the others. You choose your image (dmg, img, toast, iso, cdr, dvdr, cue/bin and TOC) or the existing disc and hit ‘Burn.’ Its that simple, and you’ll have an exact copy of the image in no time at all.
Customizing The Disc
Burn gives you very fine control over the minute details of your completed disc. This power is offered through the inspector window. The information you can edit varies depending on which mode you are using. When editing the information of a disc in data mode, you have access to different fields depending on the filesystems you are burning for. The list is far too long to reproduce here, but a few of them are:
- File permissions
- Copyright Information
A Few Bugs
Burn, the great app that it is, isn’t without a few bugs. Something I regularly came across was the text field for naming discs forbidding me from entering text. Other times, certain aspects of the interface don’t work as they should. The software can be a little rough around the edges. While Burn remains usable, these interface niggles detract from the underlying quality of what’s on offer.
Burn brings many advanced CD/DVD burning features to your Mac, and packs them into a surprisingly simple interface. Despite this, I don’t feel that – for the average user, – you’ll gain much benefit by swapping across from iTunes or Finder. If you need to have any level of control over the type of disc you’re burning, Burn is a compelling (and free) option.