How To Replace Hard Drive on Your Macbook with a SSD – Tutorial

Want to squeeze even more performance out of your MacBook Pro? As Geek’s would say, get an SSD already! Adding an SSD will make your Mac boot faster, copy files in the blink of an eye, and make the system more responsive when multitasking.

One downside, to using a laptop, is that you only have one hard drive slot, so upgrading to a super-fast SSD is often either expensive or space is limiting. Though, Lucky for you that it can bypass by replacing the optical drive with a second hard disk.

MCE Technologies is one of the companies that make these kinds of products for modification purpose. It makes a SuperDrive shaped bay that can fit a standard 2.5″ notebook hard drive. That means you can use this kit to replace your optical drive with another fully functional and bootable hard drive.

Replacing Hard Drive with SSD on Mac

This upgrade isn’t for everyone, and most probably isn’t for one who use the optical drive much often, as removing it may be inconvenient for them. In addition, if you’re not comfortable digging around in your Mac and voiding your warranty, then you don’t want to do this.

What you’ll need

  • A Macbook or Macbook Pro (any generation), Powerbook G4, or Mac Mini: In this guide, we have used Macbook Pro 2013 Model, most Unibody Macbooks should have the similar if not the same, internals. Check Compatible Macbooks
  • An MCE OptiBay: It will be second internal hard drive where you will put your new hard drive, which is available for $29.99 Buy Discounted MCE OptiBay®
  • A solid state hard drive: We have used the Kingston Digital SSD, which has worked wonderfully. Note that any SSD should work as long as it’s compatible with and bootable on a Mac. Buy SSD from $29

Note: You’re about to defy company’s intentions for your computer, yes that’s right. Once you open your Macbook Pro, the warranty will be voided if your Mac is under warranty period or Apple acre plan. And if you aren’t careful, possibly would break something as well. Let’s be sure if you want to do this before proceeding further.

Open / Disassemble Your MAC

  1. First you have to make sure that your computer has cooled down for at least 10 minutes before your rush in, as Macbooks can get pretty hot.
  2. Next, you’ve got to crack open your notebook. Now comes the fun part.
  3. Flip your Mac over, and locate the at least seven screw holes.
  4. Remove the screws using the double headed-screwdriver that comes with the kit (though, they are not magnetic screwdrivers, which made our task double time hard). Note where these screws go and set them all aside.
  5. Note: We recommend placing the screws in a small bowl or something to that effect so the screws don’t go missing. Because they’re scattered all over in this picture; do as we say, not as we do.
  6. Pry the bottom off of your MacBook Pro. It should come off fairly easily, without any undue force.

Replacing Hard Drive with SSD on Mac 3

Replace the Optical Drive with SSD

  1. Now comes the hard part (not as much hard but gruesome), taking out the optical drive.
  2. Your optical drive may be somewhere else (especially if you’re looking at it upside down), but it should look about the same—it’s just a big, flat silver thing. It’s held in place by a little piece of plastic between the optical drive and Hard Drive. Remove the screws holding the plastic piece in place.
  3. Next, gently lift the cords stuck to the top that you would just need to peel away before proceeding to remove the optical drive.
  4. The optical drive should be connected to the motherboard by a small black or red ribbon near the corner. You’ll want to pull this out of its socket before continuing.
  5. Now you have to unscrew the drive from the case. You will find there are two screws that needs to be taken out in the corners on the case edge, as well as one is to be taken out from the middle of the side connected to the motherboard. This is where you would miss the magnetic screwdriver if you haven’t used it yet.
  6. Once you have freed the optical drive from the case, you have to remove the SATA plug attached to that black ribbon and put it aside.
  7. Grab the SSD and put it into the Optibay before you screw it into the computer. Remember, all you need to do is slide it into the OptiBay and connect it carefully to the SATA plug on the edge. You may need to shove the drive as it does not slide easily; we did the same with ours with the help of a knife.
  8. You have to plug the SATA ribbon that was removed from the SuperDrive into the slot on the side of the Optibay. And then place the whole thing in the space left by the SuperDrive in your computer.


Note: Since the MacBook doesn’t look to SATA port for your main drive, it will give your computer problems waking from sleep. We noticed this when the Mac went to sleep modes. So what can be done to fix this is, you shouldn’t be installing your SSD in the Optibay, you’ll want to disconnect your regular hard drive, install the SSD in that slot, and then install your old drive in the Optibay and continue as written.

Take the screws from the bowl, and secure the OptiBay by placing the screws into same places. Again, take care, not to drop them into the abyss of the Macbook’s internals. After it’s secure, put the Black Ribbon to its socket on the logic board, as well as put the bottom case back on your Macbook, making sure to put the long screws back in the right holes. Flip your computer over, and fire it up.

Check if the SSD is recognized or not

Once you boot up the computer, your new SSD should show up on desktop and Finder sidebar. If it doesn’t show up, you should not freak out just yet; there could be the couple of reasons. First open up disk utility and see if the drive is showing up in the sidebar there. If yes, then you did everything right, now you just need to format the drive by clicking on the Erase button. And if it doesn’t show up, then you have to open the computer again, and check all the connections you fitted back. Especially the SATA connection to OptiBay, as well as the connection between Black Ribbon and Motherboard. If those are fine, then check if the connection between the Drive and OptiBay is there.


SSD is Recognized or not

If everything looks fine, but it’s still not showing up, you may have a bum drive, or maybe an incompatible one. Then, contact the manufacturer of the drive, explain your issue, and proceed from there. You could directly contact MCE as the problem could be with your OptiBay, although if everything works as expected, then format the drive as Mac OS Journaled and continue to the next steps as instructed on the opened window.


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