How To Install Software On A Laptop Without CD Drive? (3 Easy Ways Explained)

Today many laptops do not have CD drives which makes them thinner and lighter. For this reason, they are easy to work with. However, some users wonder how to install their preferred software on such laptops.

I also purchased one without the CD drive, and when I wanted to install the Windows operating system, I was forced to research easy and straightforward ways of installing software on a laptop without a CD drive.

You can get rid of this problem by buying an external CD drive that you only need to plug into your laptop’s USB port without the CD drive. But this method is not the only solution; Below, I share with you alternative ways that yield similar results:

How To Install Software On A Laptop Without CD Drive (3 Easy Ways)

3 Easy Ways To Install Software On A Laptop Without CD Drive

There are three easy and convenient methods to use. The choice depends on how familiar you are with the method(s) and compatibility with your laptop without the CD drive. These methods include using an external USB CD drive, use of USB thumb drive, and a shared CD drive with another laptop with a CD drive on a wireless Network.

Method 1 – Using An External USB CD Drive

If your laptop does not have a slot for the disk drive, don’t worry because what you need is an external USB CD drive. Using an external USB CD is one of the efficient and easy alternatives to have your software installed.

external USB CD drive

Whatever you need is a working external USB CD drive and active USB ports on your laptop. Then, plug in the external CD drive in any of the USB ports. 

It is essential to note the type of external drive you are using because:

  • Some will play external drive immediately after plugging in. 
  • While others will require to be installed via a driver.

In case the external USB CD drive you are using needs a driver, ensure you follow the procedure and instructions to install the driver. Usually manufacturer’s manual contains all the steps you need.

Inserting the program CD that you intend to install follows immediately after having the external drive installed. It will only take your laptop a few seconds to read the CD. When it is ready, it shows up in “My Computer.” Next step, click on the CD drive that shows up and then continue with the software installation.

After clicking on the CD drive, the installation wizard prompts and takes you through the entire installation process. Now you are done, you can now proceed further to install software or a game on a laptop without a CD Drive.

Method 2 – Using USB Thumb Drive

Alternatively, to install software to your laptop computer without a CD drive, you can use a USB thumb drive. You only need a flash disk or thumb drive and another computer equipped with a CD drive. Then copy the installer from the computer and paste it to your laptop.

USB Thumb Drive

The process of copying and pasting the software data starts with plugging in the thumb drive on a laptop with a CD drive and copying the file, and pasting it to the flash drive. 

After copying the data, safely eject the thumb drive and plug it into your laptop computer without the CD drive.  To proceed with the installation process, click on the installer file that directs you through till it is done.

In other words, whatever you need to master are the two steps of copying the necessary files from a CD and transferring them to your laptop without a CD drive by using the USB thumb drive.

First Step: Copying The Software Data From CD

  1. Using a computer with a CD drive, insert the CD having the software.
  2. Open the CD drive by clicking “My Computer,” then double-click the CD drive.
  3. Highlight all the folders and files, then right-click and copy. In case there is a prompt on the window informing of hidden files or folders and asking whether you would like to include them, select OK.
  4. Take your USB thumb drive and insert it in a USB port on your laptop with the CD drive. In case an AutoPlay window shows up, select an open folder and then click OK. But if it does not appear, don’t worry, open the USB thumb drive from “My Computer” by double-clicking the CD drive.
  5. For the software files’ easy location, create a folder on the flash drive by right-clicking any blank area within the window. Select “New” then “folder” and name it.
  6. Paste the software data by double-clicking the new folder you have named to open it and right-clicking within the folder, and selecting paste.
  7. After completing file transfer, close the window and safe eject the USB thumb drive from the laptop computer.

Second Step: Using A USB Thumb Drive To Transfer Software Data To A Laptop Without A CD Drive

  1. Using your laptop without a CD drive, insert the USB thumb drive into one of the USB ports. If the AutoPlay window shows up, select the open folder, then OK. But if it doesn’t open a USB thumb drive.
  2. Copy the software folder by right-clicking it and select copy.
  3. Select any blank area within the desktop and paste the software folder.
  4. After completing file transfer, double-click the folder on the desktop to open it.
  5. Locate the launch file and double click it to open and follow the instructions to install the software.
  6. Done

Method 3 – Sharing CD/DVD Drive With Another Computer On A Wireless Network

Using a shared drive with another computer via a wireless network, you can install the intended software on your laptop without a CD drive. Despite being more complicated than the other methods, it functions with the older versions of the Windows operating system.

Sharing CD/DVD Drive With Another Computer On A Wireless Network

The first crucial step is to set up a wireless network that permits sharing the CD drive on another laptop with your network’s drive. The second essential step is the installation of the software from the shared CD drive.

First Step: Settings Configuration To Share The CD Drive

Make sure you have another laptop with a CD drive and perform the following steps on it.

  1. Click Start and select My Computer before looking for the CD drive and then right-click and select properties.
  2. Go to the Sharing tab “Share with” in the Properties window, select “Advanced Sharing.”
  3. Click the “Share this folder” checkbox, assign a name for the drive, and then click “Apply.”
  4. To open the permission window, select permission.
  5. Click OK on the “full control” checkbox.
  6. For closing the window, click Apply followed by OK
  7. To close advanced sharing options, click again OK. After this last step, you can access the CD drive to another laptop on your network.

Second Step: Installing Software from a Shared CD Drive

Installing the intended software on the laptop without a CD drive requires the following steps.

  1. Ensure both laptops are connected to your network
  2. Open the CD drive slot on the other laptop and insert the installation disc so that you can access it across your network
  3. On your laptop without the CD drive, click Start, and in the search tap, enter “network,” then click on the laptop name where you enabled sharing and where the intended software is installed. 
  4. If a prompt window appears that requires a username and password, log into the first laptop.
  5. Go to the folder for the CD drive and locate the file name
  6. Double click on the file and continue with the installation process. In some cases, the installation wizard present would guide you till the process is completed.
  7. Done

If you are finding the above process too complex, then you can check out this video.

How To Install Software On A Laptop Without CD Drive On Mac?

There are two main methods to perform this – Install the software from the App Store and another one is by Using Remote Disc. 

First Method: Installation from Mac App Store:

  1. Double-Click on the App Store icon to open it.
  2. Enter the name of the Software you need on the searching box.
  3. Select your desired Software and Open it to display information about it.
  4. Click ‘Price Button’ on the App, and then the ‘Buy App’ option.
  5. An ‘Install the application’ prompt will pop up, key in your ID credential, and within a short while your Software installation process will be over.
  6. In this way, you can install a software on Mac without a CD drive.

Second Method: Installation Using Remote Disc:

  1. Click on the ‘Apple’ icon on your Mac with an optical drive.
  2. Double-click on ‘System preferences’ to open the sharing window from the internet & wireless section.
  3. Select CD or DVD sharing, and then insert the disc into the optical drive.
  4. Click on the ‘Finder button’ to open the Finder window.
  5. Choose ‘Remote disc’ from the sidebar down list. This shows the Mac having the CD or DVD sharing.
  6. Choose the computer icon and then click the ‘Connect’ button.
  7. On the computer with the optical drive, click ‘Accept’ to allow the Mac laptop to use the drive to install the software. Once complete, it will appear on your Mac.
  8. Click on the Install disc for installation of the software.
  9. And you are done.

How To Install Game On PC Without CD Drive?

This can be done using USB Thumb Drive, where the game has been copied in a flash disk. Below are the steps to follow:

  1. Insert your flash disk into the laptop you want to transfer the game into via USB port. When the ‘Auto-play’ window shows up, select ‘Open folder,’ and then click Ok.
  2. Right-click on the folder with the game, and select ‘Copy.’
  3. On a blank space on the desktop, right-click and select ‘Paste.’
  4. After its complete, double-click the newly created folder to open it.
  5. Locate the launch file, double-click to open, and follow the prompt installation instructions.
  6. Done! And in this way, you can install a game on a PC without CD Drive.


My Laptop Doesn’t Have A CD Drive What Can I Do?

Acquire an optical drive that you can now use to connect to your laptop via a USB port. Once connected, you can easily copy, play, transfer files, software, programs, and other content from a CD or DVD to your laptop. Once you are done, eject the optical drive from your laptop.

How To Install A Program From A CD On Windows 10?

1. Insert the disk with the program in the disk drive and close.
2. An ‘Auto-play’ prompt pops at the bottom right corner.
3. Click on it, and choose ‘Run Start.exe’ to Install the program from a CD on your Windows 10.
4. If the ‘Auto-play prompt doesn’t appear, type ‘Auto-play settings’ on the search box, turn on the auto-play.
5. Under ‘Removable drive,’ choose to Ask me every time, then Left-click once.

How To Install Multidisc Software On A Laptop Without CD Drive?

1. Install ISO recorder software into your laptop, and insert the disk to be converted.
2. Click on My Computer, and right-click on Optical drive.
3. Click ‘Create Image from CD/DVD’ and save (do this first 3 steps for all discs).
4. Transfer them to your laptop via a USB drive or a created network.
5. From Virtual CD, open the virtual files and extract them to a folder.
6. Open the VCD control tool.exe, click install driver, and then Ok.
7. Go to the virtual drive, and click ‘Add drive.’
8. On the Virtual CD, select the ‘Mount’ button.
9. Locate, and then select all the software files to be installed, and click Open.
10. Click Ok, and follow the prompt installation instructions to the end.
11. In this way, you can install multidisc software on a laptop without a CD Drive.

Why Some Laptops Don’t Have CD Drives?

This is because a CD drive takes up a lot of a laptop’s physical space, so for most modern laptops, space is utilized on other features to make them more portable and efficient. However, some come fitted with internal optical drives and others with none. 

Is It Possible To Install Windows On My Laptop Without A CD Drive?

Yes, it is possible; you only need to follow two essential steps for successful windows installation. In the first step, create a bootable ISO windows file on your USB drive. The second step requires that you use this USB drive to install windows on your laptop.

What Are The Easy Methods I Can Use To Install Software On My Laptop That Does Not Have A CD Drive?

Using an External USB CD drive, USB Thumb Drive, and shared CD drive with another laptop on a wireless network are easy methods. However, the first two are the easiest and simple methods to use for the starters. Using a shared CD drive on a wireless network is a bit complex and needs excellent understanding.


The three different methods that I have mentioned on how to install software on a laptop without a CD drive are the easiest and best alternative to use. I prefer to have a small and light laptop to work with a mini or small computer; you can install any software you need. Hence, it worth nothing carrying more weight.

I hope that I’ve solved your query ‘How To Install Software On A Laptop Without CD Drive,’ thanks for the read. If you still have any questions left, drop those in the comments, and I would love to help you out!

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