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

Today many laptops do not have CD drives, making 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 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 your familiarity with the method(s) and compatibility with your laptop without the CD drive. These methods include using an external USB CD drive, a 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 you need 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

You need a working external USB CD drive and active USB ports on your laptop. Then, plug in the external CD drive in any USB port. 

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

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

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

Inserting the program CD you intend to install follows immediately after installing the external drive. It will only take your laptop a few seconds to read the CD. When it is ready, it shows up in “My Computer.” Next, 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 installation process. Now that you are done, you can install software or a game on a laptop without a CD Drive.

Method 2 – Using a USB Thumb Drive

Alternatively, you can use a USB thumb drive to install software to your laptop computer without a CD 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

Copying and pasting the software data starts with plugging in the thumb drive on a laptop with a CD drive, 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 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 must master are the two steps of copying the necessary files from a CD and transferring them to your laptop without a CD drive 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. If 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 into a USB port on your laptop with the CD drive. If an AutoPlay window appears, select an open folder and 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 named to open it, right-clicking within the folder, and selecting paste.
  7. After completing the file transfer, close the window and safely 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 selecting copy.
  3. Select any blank area within the desktop and paste the software folder.
  4. After completing the file transfer, double-click the folder on the desktop to open it.
  5. Locate the launch file, double-click it to open it, and follow the instructions to install the software.
  6. Done

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

You can install the intended software on your laptop without a CD drive using a shared drive with another computer via a wireless network. 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 installing 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.

  1. Click Start, select My Computer before looking for the CD drive, then right-click and select Properties.
  2. Go to the Sharing tab “Share with” in the Properties window, and select “Advanced Sharing.”
  3. Click the “Share this folder” checkbox, assign a name for the drive, and click “Apply.”
  4. To open the permission window, select permission.
  5. Click OK on the “full control” checkbox.
  6. To close 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 to 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. Log into the first laptop if a prompt window requires a username and password.
  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

You can check out this video if you find the above process too complex.

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

There are two main methods to perform this – Installing 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 in the search box.
  3. Select your desired Software and Open it to display information about it.
  4. Click the ‘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. This way, you can install software on a 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, 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 a 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 to 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 appears, select ‘Open folder’ and 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 it’s complete, double-click the newly created folder to open it.
  5. Locate the launch file, double-click to open it, and follow the prompt installation instructions.
  6. Done! And in this way, you can install a game on a PC without a 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, and 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 and 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. open the virtual files from Virtual CD 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.
11. This way, you can install multidisc software on a laptop without a CD Drive.

Why Don’t Some Laptops 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 must only follow two essential steps for successful Windows installation. The first step is to 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 starters. Using a shared CD drive on a wireless network is complex and needs excellent understanding.


The three methods I mentioned for installing software on a laptop without a CD drive are the easiest and best alternatives. I prefer a small and light laptop to work with a mini or small computer; you can install any software you need. Hence, it is worth noting carrying more weight.

I hope 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!

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