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Upgrading a MacBook Pro's Hard Drive

Outline for Upgrading a MacBook Pro Hard Drive.

Rough Draft

  1. Why this hack is needed (story, build desire)
  2. Describe the relevant features
  3. Hack prerequisites
  4. Hack code/procedure
  5. Example of the Hack in action
  6. Brief summary (why the reader rocks!)
  7. If possible, Hack alternatives

Why this hack is needed

When you bought your current MacBook Pro, you maxed out the capacity and/or speed of the hard drive based on what was available at the time. A year later, you've just purchased the latest release of Apple Logic Pro and a full install barely fit. Bigger, faster hard drives are on the market now, but the current generations of laptops' internal storage weren't designed to be user-serviceable. You've replaced them dozens of times in desktop machines. A laptop can't be that difficult, can it?

The Relevant Features

Organization is key. Laptops are by definition, very compact and efficiently designed machines.

  • Don't lose any parts.
    • Every screw counts.
  • Use the right part in the right place.
    • If a screw was flush with a surface before you removed it, it should be flush when it goes back in.
  • Order and alignment matters.
    • Cables folded a certain way should go back folded the same way. Pinch nothing.
  • Tolerances are tight so parts don't fall out or apart during regular wear.
    • Some pressure is necessary during disassembly and reassembly.
  • Circuit boards and connectors are proportionally smaller than in a desktop.
    • Don't use too much pressure or you could crack a board and brick your machine.

Hack Prerequisites


  • A clean and static-electricity free work surface.
  • Screw drivers
    • Phillips 00 and/or 000 size
    • Torx T6 size
  • Digital Camera
    • Take lots of pictures, every step of the way.
  • Tray to receive screws
    • You don't want to loose any! Group them in the order you remove them. This will make it a lot easier to re-install them in reverse order.
    • Sticky surfaces help; try using double-sided tape
  • A steady hand.
  • Patience.
  • No fear.


  • A new 2.5" SATA hard drive matching or exceeding your current drive's specifications
    • Match the physical dimensions or find a thinner drive. A thicker drive may or may not fit.
  • (optional) Temporary SATA bridge interface to mount the new drive on the system to make a bootable image of your current system.
    • If you want to start from scratch, all you need are you Mac OS X install DVDs.
    • Copy of SuperDuper! software to create the new image.
  • Paper copy of iFixIt instructions closest matching your make and model.
    • Pen or pencil to mark up your copy if/when you encounter differences. Watch for things like different screw counts, types of screws used, etc.

Hack Procedure (Pictures Example)


The Doctor Is In

  1. Clear your space.
  2. Set out your tools
  3. Set out your screw management system
  4. Get your digital camera ready
  5. Have your Installation DVD at the ready


  1. Remove the battery [1]
  2. Remove the RAM [2]
  3. Remove Bottom Screws
    1. Remove the Torx screws in the RAM compartment and the Phillips screws on the bottom [3]
    2. Remove the angled Phillips screws from the battery compartment [4]
  4. Remove Edge Screws
    1. Remove the Phillips screws from both the DVI side [5] and the Power Socket side [6]
    2. From the rear, remove the Phillips screws at each side of the LCD hinge. See [7] and [8]
  5. Flip the machine right-side up, open the LCD and carefully pry off the top keyboard module from around the edges.
    • Should look something like this [9]. Note the ribbon connector between the keyboard and the motherboard [10]
  6. Separate the ribbon connector [11] from the motherboard socket [12]
    • This is one of those parts that, at assembly time, you want to press it firmly back in place but not too hard or you risk cracking the motherboard.
  7. Locate the hard drive [13] and take note (and pictures) of how the cables are routed and taped in place.
    1. Slide out and un-tape the Bluetooth module next to the hard drive [14]
    2. Unscrew and remove the inner retaining bracket over the hard drive [15]
    3. Gently lift the hard drive out, then un-tape (possibly both sides [16]) and detach the SATA connector [17]

Prepare the new drive

  1. Note the knobs on the lifting edge [18] rubber
  2. Note the knobs on the hinge edge [19] are metal
  3. Swap the knobs from the old drive to the new [20]


  1. Attach the new drive to the SATA connector, reapply the tape and insert [21]
  2. Attach the drive retaining bracket [22]
  3. Insert the bluetooth module and reapply the tape [23]
  4. Re-attach the keyboard ribbon cable to the motherboard [24] and carefully close up the top.
  5. Reverse the order in which you removed screws.
    1. Rear of the LCD hinge
    2. Edge screws
    3. Battery compartment screws
    4. Screws inside RAM compartment
      • Note: When you re-insert the RAM, make sure they are pushed in all the way with none of gold pins showing. Here is an example of how not to do it [25]; your machine probably won't power on like this.
    5. Screws closing RAM compartment and remaining bottom screws
    6. Re-insert battery.

Power up your system

  1. If it doesn't turn on, check that you inserted the RAM properly.
    • Other things to check include the keyboard connector (you didn't flip the cable around, did you?) and the hard drive's SATA connector (pushed in all the way?).
  2. If all else fails, remove the new drive, re-insert the old drive and confirm that it still works.
    • If the old drive has a 1.5Gb/s SATA interface, check to see that the new drive is configured in 1.5Gb/s interface mode, not a newer 3.0Gb/s interface mode. See the detailed specifications for both drives at the manufacturer(s) website(s) for more information.
  3. Install from Mac OS X DVD
  4. Keep your old drive in a safe place
    • I still haven't dared erase mine. It never hurts to have a spare, just in case.


All it takes is a little time, organization and a steady hand to service those non-user-serviceable parts of your MacBook Pro.


  1. Make an identical, bootable copy of your current system on the new drive. [26] Then perform the drive transplant.
    • I used SuperDuper! (See LifeHacker Example)
    • I opted for speed and used the power adaptor from a Vantec CB-ISATAU2, a SATA-to-eSATA cable and a SIIG eSATA II 2-Port ExpressCard-M to power and transfer data. I probably could have used the CB-ISATAU2 by itself (data transfer via USB 2.0).
      • If you can find one, a 2.5" SATA-to-Firewire bridge will allow you to boot directly off "the other" drive to confirm that the new image works and/or that the old drive still works after the transplant. Hold down the option key while turning on the machine to select the external Firewire drive as the boot device.
    • Remember to change the new drive's name back to the old system's name or you may find many of your applications won't be able to find all their parts.
  2. Replace the DVD drive with something more current.
  3. Transplant your whole machine into a new Steampunk-inspired case.


Deleted Material Scratch Pad

--Started: AndrewPlumb 14:52, 4 December 2007 (PST)

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