How to Upgrade Your MacBook Air

by Michael Ryan

Upgrading a MacBook Air allows you to increase the amount of storage space offered by the hard drive or solid state drive (SSD) installed in the laptop. Although the MacBook Air is not intended to be upgraded by the end user, with the random access memory (RAM) being soldered to the motherboard, a hard drive swap is possible. The tolerances in the MacBook Air are very small, so a slight error in reassembly can cause major problems. As a result, you should only attempt to upgrade the hard drive on a MacBook Air if you are comfortable disassembling and working on notebook computers.


Remove screws. The internals of a MacBook Pro are accessed form the underside of the casing. The bottom is held in place by ten screws, including six 3 mm Phillips screws, two 5.4 mm Phillips screws, and two 7.9 mm Phillips screws.


Lift off the case. Once the screws are removed, the bottom of the MacBook Air case should come off easily, with a quick pull.


Disconnect the accessory ports. Your MacBook Air's current hard drive or solid state drive sits underneath the ribbon that connects your accessory USB, audio, power and DVI connectors. With the bottom of the case removed, unplug the ribbon that connects these accessories to the motherboard.


Remove hard drive screws. Once the accessory ports are disconnected form the board, remove the screws that hold the hard drive frame in place.


Lift the hard drive frame. Make sure that the ribbon that attaches the accessory ports is safely out of the way. If the path is clear, the hard drive and its frame can be lifted from the computer.


Replace hard drive. With the frame and hard drive out of the computer, the current drive can be slid out of the frame and a new one inserted. Original generation MacBook Air models use a zero insertion force (ZIF) connector, so make sure the hard drive or solid state drive you use has this type of connector. Models manufactured after the summer of 2009 feature a more common Serial ATA (SATA) connector. All MacBook Air hard drives or solid state drives must be 1.8 inches wide by 5 mm tall to fit in the frame.


Reassemble MacBook Air. Place the bracket back in the computer and secure it using using the removed screws. Reattach the ribbon connectors for the accessory ports. Replace the back of the computer and secure it with its 10 screws. Boot the computer and install Mac OS X, being sure to test functionality.

Items you will need

About the Author

Michael Ryan is a freelance writer with professional experiences in the auto industry and academic training in music. Ryan earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Olivet College. Since college, he has been a featured speaker at music conferences at the University of Michigan and Bowling Green State University. Ryan is a published writer, with work featured on websites including eHow and

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera hard drive 2 image by Graham Lumsden from