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I was interested to see that the power button on the new Airs has been moved to the keyboard, and was anticipating that it would just replace the eject key that has traditionally taken up that position.

However, this appears not to be the case (pic is from iFixit's teardown guide):

MacBook Air Keyboard

What's the purpose of the eject key with no optical drive?

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3  
The Mid 2011 MacBook Airs have been tweaked to no longer have an eject key. Curiouser and curiouser… –  CajunLuke Jul 23 '11 at 20:05
    
Why is the power key the one with the box around it? That threw me off for almost a minute as I went back and forth, rereading the question several times and staring at the image before I noticed the eject|F12 key NEXT to it. –  Blacklight Shining Nov 14 '12 at 6:34

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

That's funny. I was wondering the same thing when I first opened up my MBA! I asked a Genius at the Apple Store who proceeded to tell me that he had wondered the same thing too, and asked his superior who told him that is was designed for use with the MacBook Air Superdrive, which costs an astounding $79 and is basically a slick looking external DVD writer. Because it's made by Apple it doesn't have any buttons on it, including an eject button. Most new/casual Mac users won't know the drag to eject or context-menu eject methods, so in order to make the drive streamlined with the Mac, they put the eject key on the MacBook Air itself.

I guess Apple anticipates a wide user base for the new Superdrive...

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1  
The Superdrive is of occasional, not routine, use. It makes sense for it to be something that stays on the desk, like a printer or scanner, rather than something integral, like a keyboard or display. –  Thomas L Holaday Dec 31 '10 at 19:50
    
Exactly my philosophy. I could also see somebody taking it on a trip though. Especially for business. –  SeniorShizzle Dec 31 '10 at 21:30
    
what's the drag to eject method? –  Senseful Jan 30 '11 at 18:50
1  
You drag a mounted disk (including CDs) to the trash icon in the Dock. It will change to an eject symbol. –  SeniorShizzle Jan 31 '11 at 3:13
    
@Senseful even Floppy Drives used to work like that on System 9! :) –  Martín Marconcini Jun 22 '11 at 18:18

There's also quite a few keyboard shortcuts that use the eject key.

  • Control ⌃+Eject ⏏ brings up a screen that has Restart/Sleep/Cancel/Shut Down options

  • Command ⌘+Control ⌃+Eject ⏏ instantly restarts

  • (etc.)

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My favorite is ^ ⌥ ⏏, sleep all displays (serves a great purpose as being an "instant-away" in IM apps, and desktop lock). See apple.stackexchange.com/questions/183/… for many more that include the eject button. –  Jason Salaz Dec 31 '10 at 23:07

Well, The keyboard is the same as other Macbooks (which have SuperDrive), but in any case, if you have an external (USB) superdrive, the button will work as advertised.

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Also because USB external drives are basically the only way to share files using the new MacBook Air, so you need to eject them to proper close the file on them. –  massimogentilini Jan 4 '11 at 16:20
    
@massimogentilini "Basically the only way," unless you've heard of the Internet. Also, the eject key on a regular system has no effect on non-removable media volumes. –  NReilingh Jun 22 '11 at 0:27
    
Not quite correct - the MacBook Air's keyboard is the only one that contains the power button in place of the usual location of the eject key. All other MacBooks' power buttons are located at the top right of the bezel. –  NReilingh Jun 22 '11 at 0:31
    
@NReilingh You're correct, but the keyboard is the same, except for the power button. The Eject button is still there, and will not perform any action unless you have a DVD drive to eject. ;) –  Martín Marconcini Jun 22 '11 at 18:19

You can use Ejectulate to map the eject key to show you a list of every ejectable volume, making it useful even on a MacBook Air lacking an optical drive.

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