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November 2016

It's More Than Just a Beauty Mark

There is this thing that appears on most removable drives called a beauty mark. But it's not a thing of beauty. No, it's an essential part of the hardware, something you may not have known about, and something you may need to use someday.

Actually, the beauty mark does appear on all removable disk drives, except for the floppy disk. That's because the floppy disk drive has a manual eject button. That button can be used whether the computer is on or off, and it always ejects a disk. (Even if the computer is writing to the disk, which is why I say in my books to wait until the drive light goes out before ejecting a disk.)

The purpose of the beauty mark is to manually eject a disk from the drive should you need to. First off, you should always use the drive's Eject command to eject a disk: right-click the drive letter in the My Computer window and choose the Eject command from the drive's shortcut menu. That's the proper way to do things.

But sometimes, the disk may not come out. Or, as happened to me recently, a disk was in the drive of a computer that was turned off. Now I could have turned the machine on, ejected the disk, then turned it off again, but — hey! — I'm lazy. So I just used a bent paper clip and poked it into the drive's beauty mark. This manually ejected the disk. Simple.

The bent paper clip is an extremely handy computing tool. I have one by each of my computers (except for the PC that came with an "eject tool," which is essentially a bent paper clip that looks like a little screwdriver).

Here's how not to use the paper clip:

Here's now to use the paper clip:

Remember, use the paper clip as a last resort. Pushing it in will manually eject the disk. Never do this when the computer is on or when the Eject command would otherwise work.