Sunday, June 24, 2007

Opening up your MacBook Pro

Disassembling the Apple MacBook Pro is pretty well documented at and kudos to them for their very useful guide.

HOWEVER, there are some undocumented points that are garnered from my own experience opening up my 15 inch 1.83 Ghz MacBook Pro to replace its hard disk with a bigger 160GB model.

First, follow iFixit's guide unscrewing all the screws that they tell you to, and get to the part where you're supposed to take off the top plate (that's what I'll call it - its the piece that has your keyboard). It should look like this:

Then you'll soon find that the the trickiest part is getting the side closest to you, out. iFixit says something like rock it side to side. Well, I found that the left part came off after a little bit of rocking, but the right side and the area above the screen latch button was quite stubborn. After some jostling, where I thought I'll break something along the way, I managed to lift the left part out and somehow slide the right side backwards a little towards the screen and off came the top plate. You gotta pop that connector like they say on iFixit, if you wanna remove it completely.

On closer examination, here's why its such a pain to remove the right side:

Notice the four rectangular holes near the front edge? Good.

Next take a look at this:

This is what's below the top plate. Notice those grey plastic tabs? They actually fit into those rectangular holes. Here's a close up:

You'll notice that these grey plastic tabs can actually pop off. The left most pictured is popped off.

The grey plastic tabs looks like this:

These tabs actually slide into the rectangular holes above the DVD drive like this:

So by actually sliding the right side of the top plate backwards - towards the screen - during removal, these plastic tabs also slid off. When you reassemble, you'll realise that the top plate will pop into these four tabs. Actually there's five - there's one more above the screen latch button.

I guess an alternative would have been to pop off the top plate right off, leaving the grey tabs hopefully still in their respective holes. But because these joints are quite tight, it also leaves me to wonder if the thin ends of the grey plastic tabs will hold it firm enough to remain in the hole, or simply snap.

Anyway, if you do indeed take apart your MacBook Pro - at least you now know why there are parts of the top plate that seem like they ain't coming out - even though you've already taken out all the screws that the guide says.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for having this up my friend. Saved me the worry of breaking my 2 month old laptop during a 200 Gb hard drive upgrade. Problem solved exactly as you said. Thank God Google. - bs

RL said...

You're welcome! I'm glad it was useful. I just wish they'd made it easier to open up the MBP to get to the hard disk!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the instructions. It helped give me the confidence to save myself £100 and do the job myself. It was as nerve wracking as I imagine operating on my own kids would be, but it all works and I have now a 200gb drive, and snappier perormance (and £100!)

chanapong said...

MacBook Pro
new macbook pro
Apple MacBook Pro

Matthew said...

Brilliant, thanks for the help. Did my macBook Pro and a friends macbook both at the same time. pro was involved, but was not 'too' nervous thanks to this and other help. Thankyou very much.

Jeff said...

Excellent tip! Getting ready, doing research to replace the 120 with a 320.

LB said...

a 320GB! wow. they weren't around when i did mine!

Anonymous said...

I ran into a problem pushing those front snaps down over the Disk Slot because it flexed so much I was worried it would deform. I used a spare hdd enclosure bracket an slipped it into the drive bay only about an 8th of an inch. This gave me enough support to press down and snap it in easily. I'm sure any small/thin sturdy piece of metal would work.

Here's a link to an example of the bracket:

Thanks for your help and pics-BTW


Nikhil said...


I'd like to know if removing the top plate of the mbp voids it's warranty.

dan said...

Removing the top plate does void the warranty

roy said...

Thanks for the grey plastic tabs. I found two of them floating free when I went to reassemble and hadn't a clue where they came from or where they went. Thanks.

LB said...

cool. glad documenting this has proved to be still useful after all these year.

-cman- said...

Awesome! I was a little trepedatious approaching replacing the optical drive on my Old Reliable. Done and dusted!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip and the images. About to open up the macbook pro of my wife to remove dust (it has a heating problem). God to know this before breaking something.

Thanks again, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Thanks!! just finished optical drive removal and replacement - keep ou the good work, and slepp well knowing your efforts continue to move through the world!