Over the last week we’ve had a lot of Apple laptops in our office for various repairs and upgrades — including one of our own MacBook Pros that was upgraded with a larger internal hard drive.
It is a good reminder that however skilled you are at hardware repair, you won’t be able to open a MacBook Pro case without the right set of screwdrivers. We’ve asked Creativetechs’ hardware guru, Jasson Lewellen, to compile a list of tools and training materials for people who are interested in doing basic Apple laptop repair.
So whether you run an IT team headed towards self-service, or you are an intrepid DIY home-user willing to void a warranty, here are a collection of links for you to start building your own laptop repair toolkit.
Note: It goes without saying, but computer disassembly and part installation is at your own risk. If you are going to take your computer apart, no matter how carefully you follow instructions, you will probably void your warranty.
Basic Apple PowerBook or MacBook Toolkit:
While Jasson’s personal toolkit is filled with many dozen specialized tools and gadgets he’s accumulated over the the years, he says most Apple laptop repairs require only a few specific screwdrivers.
Phillips #1 Screwdriver — A small, standard Phillips screwdriver. Almost everyone has a small Phillips somewhere. Needed for many standard screws on most electronic equipment.
Phillips #00 Screwdriver — This is an ultra-small Phillips screwdriver that most people don’t keep handy. Without this small driver you can’t open certain parts of a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or Aluminum PowerBook G4 case.
TORX T6 Screwdriver — Torx screws have a distinctive 6-point star-shaped pattern and require this special screwdriver to remove. The T6 size screws are found on the case of the MacBook Pro and Aluminum PowerBook G4.
TORX T8 Screwdriver — T8 screws are found on the case of the MacBook, and in other locations such as the hard drive carrier in the PowerBook G4 17-inch, and the PowerBook G4 Titanium.
Non-Marking Pry Tool — This item (Apple Part Number: 922-5065) is a nonmetal tool used for removing computer parts and prying open certain cases.
Where to Purchase your Tools:
You should be able to find most of these tools at a good local hardware store. Here are a couple additional online sources. Both RadTech and iFixit carry the harder to find non-marking pry tool (iFixit calls this item a “Spudger“.)
RadTech — RadTech provides a range of hard-to-find tools for DIY laptop repairs. They have packaged toolkits branded as Glide Kits that include the needed screwdrivers and Torx wrenches needed for each particular type of Apple laptop:
iFixit — We wrote about iFixit a little over a year ago for their useful iFixit Guides to DIY Laptop Repair (see below). They also sell a wide variety of tools and parts.
Wiha Tools — Look into Jasson’s own kit and you’ll find many tools that carry the Wiha logo. They are not packaged specifically for laptop repairs, but these German manufactured tools feel good in the hand, and hold up well over years of use.
Wiha Phillips Precision Screwdrivers
Wiha TORX Precision Screwdrivers
Apple Laptop Repair Manuals & Training:
The right tools mean nothing without knowing what to do with them. Below are a couple official and unofficial sources for laptop tear-apart manuals and training.
Apple Training Series: Desktop and Portable Systems — If you are serious about learning more about how to repair your Macintosh laptop or desktop system, or if you wish to become a certified AppleCare Technician, here is Apple’s official training book:
Apple Training Series: Desktop and Portable Systems
Apple’s Training and Certification Links — For more information about Apple’s training and certifications check out the Apple’s certification website:
Apple Training & Certification Programs
iFixit Guide Series — Each Fixit Guide has detailed disassembly instructions that walk you through the process of accessing and replacing components in your PowerBook or iBook. These guides are well written and well illustrated.
Creativetechs’ review of iFixit Guides from 2006
Source: Jasson Lewellen heads up the hardware repair side of Creativetechs. He handles most of our AppleCare and warranty repairs for clients like Amazon, Costco, K2 Sports, or the Seattle Sonics. He also provides on-site training and support for larger IT teams who want to add the ability to repair their own Macintosh computers through Apple’s Self-Servicing Account program (an installed base of at least 50 Macs is required for this program).