How to open a compact disc (cd) to view the contents

When you insert a compact disc into your cd drive in your computer there are a few ways to view the contents of the cd. Obviously if the compact disc is blank there will be nothing to see, however if there are files you can view, copy, and paste them to your computer. Also if there are music files such as mp3’s, you can play them from the disc. If you have a game CD it will most likely open and show up on the screen.

How to open a compact disc automatically to see the contents?

Sometimes an Autoplay dialog box will appear automatically when you insert a cd. This will enable you to choose what action to take with the cd. To see the contents of the compact disc that you have just inserted simply press on Open folder to view files.  See the screenshot below. This screenshot was taken from Windows Vista, however in Windows XP it looks very similar.

open a cd to view the contents

How to change the Compact disc auto play options?

Windows Vista

  1. Go to the start menu, choose control panel.
  2. Find the Autoplay icon. Double click on it.
  3. Choose your action for each process by pressing the drop down arrow to choose form the list.

open a cd automatically

Windows XP

  1. Go to the start menu, choose my computer.
  2. Find your cd rom icon.
  3. Right click on it and choose properties from the menu.
  4. The CD drive properties will appear.
  5. Go to the Autoplay tab.
  6. Press the drop down arrow to see your choices. Music files, Pictures, Video Files, Mixed content, and Music CD. See circled arrow below.
  7. This is where you can change what happens when you insert a cd.

If you choose pictures from the list, the actions will change to things you can do with pictures. You can choose to print pictures from a cd, extract them to a folder, view a slide show, and so on. If you choose music you can choose to play the music, open the folder to view files, or take no action at all. After you have set your options press apply and then ok. See the screenshots below for more details. Windows XP CD auto play options are very different to Windows Vista.

cd autoplay


How do you open a compact disc when auto play does not work?

If your cd does not open automatically then you can open it through my computer. Simply go to the start menu, choose my computer or computer for Windows Vista.

Vista start menu

When my computer appears you will see all drives on your computer. Some compact discs will show a unique icon so you can tell where they are, however a data cd will look similar to an empty cd drive. The only difference may be a name, however in this case there is a string of grey text saying how much free space is on the drive. The drive with nothing in it has no grey text as it is empty.

Simply double click (click the left mouse button twice) on the cd drive you want to open to see the contents. The same applies for both Windows XP and Windows Vista.

open a cd rom

Why do you need to know how to open a compact disc?

If you have a computer you will need to know how to open a compact disc to view contents of a disc. Maybe someone might give you a photo cd or a cd with files on it. Or maybe you will want to install a program from a compact disc.

Notes on opening a cd to see its contents:

  • You can experiment and try to open a cd drive. Put a disc in your cd drive and then go to my computer and try to open the cd to see its contents.
  • If you open the wrong cd drive nothing will happen, just close that and open the correct one.
  • To tell the truth, cd’s are becoming extinct as everything is digital now.. Even if you download a program online, it no longer has to be transferred onto a disc to install.
  • A cd is one of many backup storage devices available.


  1. Paty says

    i have some pictures on my cd but i’m not able to open any ot them. some of my friend were able to vie them by my tools recovery but still not able to copy and save them. is there another way to open my files and transfer them to my computer? I don’t know what program was used to save them, i have them save in mexico and the guy i talk will not tell me what program he used.

  2. Art says

    Mitz – I just tried the disc in another computer with the same result. It indicates the disc has 1.36 GB free space of 4.38 GB and only the message “Drag files to this folder to add them to the disc.”

  3. Art says

    Hi Mitz – I did respond to your comment a couple of days ago so, here it is again:

    The dvd is not a re-writable disc which I did not notice until attempting to delete a few photos. Upon selecting delete the question screen came up asking if I really wanted to send the photos to the recycle bin and I clicked yes. Since then I can no longer open the disc.


  4. Art says

    I have a dvd with lots of photos. I looked at some of the photos and deleted one photo. Since then, the dvd will not open. It shows 3+ gb on the dvd. Any idea on what happened and how to fix it? Thanks.

    • says

      Can you try looking at the DVD in another computer?
      Also you can go to my computer. Right click on the dvd drive and choose eject… Sometimes they get errors..
      You can also hover over the dvd drive in my computer when the dvd is in the drive to see if it is empty or if it has data on it?
      You still have not told me if the dvd is re-writeable…

  5. Rick says

    When I insert a music cd it does not prompt me how I want to play cd. It opens the contents of the cd and I have to select all and click play to play the music. It is really aggravating. Can you please give me help, I want it to prompt me which program to use. My autorun is set properly to ask each time cd is inserted.
    Thank you for any advice and help.

  6. Linda says

    I purchased a cd with ebooks in both epub and mobi format, on it. My computer will open the drive, but none of the files appear. The drive properties says the cd is full, but nothing shows in the mycomputer/D:drive window. I tried finding the files through my computer and autoplay – nothing. I even tried to go through DOS, but it says the device is not ready. I’m running XP. My daughter’s computer with Windows 7, found the files. Any ideas???
    Thanks, Linda

    • says

      Hi there Linda
      I have a few questions for you…
      What program will the files open with on the Windows seven computer? Is that program on the other computer? I doubt it.
      These are both ebook file formats. You could put these files onto the Win 7 computer and try to convert them into something that your computer has.