MacBook Pro 13" Unibody Mid 2009 Hard Drive Cable Replacement

This guide will show you how to replace your hard drive cable or tighten it if it is loose

Relevant Parts

Edit Step 1 Lower Case  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 Lower Case  ¶ 

  • Remove the following 10 screws securing the lower case to the MacBook Pro 13" Unibody:

    • Seven 3 mm Phillips screws.

    • Three 13.5 mm Phillips screws.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Slightly lift the lower case and push it toward the rear of the computer to free the mounting tabs.

Edit Step 3 Battery  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3 Battery  ¶ 

  • For precautionary purposes, we advise that you disconnect the battery connector from the logic board to avoid any electrical discharge. This step is optional and is not required.

  • Use the flat end of a spudger to lift the battery connector up out of its socket on the logic board.

Edit Step 4 Hard Drive  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4 Hard Drive  ¶ 

  • Remove two Phillips screws securing the hard drive bracket to the upper case.

  • These screws are captive to the hard drive bracket.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Lift the the retaining bracket out of the upper case.

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Lift the hard drive by its pull tab and pull it out of the chassis, minding the cable attaching it to the computer.

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Remove the hard drive cable by pulling its connector straight away from the hard drive.

Edit Step 8 Hard Drive Cable  ¶ 

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Edit Step 8 Hard Drive Cable  ¶ 

  • Remove the following four screws securing the hard drive and IR sensor cable to the upper case:

    • Two 1.5 mm Phillips screws.

    • Two 9.5 mm Phillips screws.

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Slide the hard drive and IR sensor bracket away from the edge of the upper case.

  • Carefully peel the hard drive and IR sensor cable from the upper case.

Edit Step 10  ¶ 

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the hard drive cable connector up off the logic board.

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Lift the hard drive/IR sensor cable assembly out of the upper case.

  • If your replacement part does not come with the hard drive bracket and indicator light, you will need to pull those off of the part you are removing and install them on the new part.

  • Your replacement part may come with several adhesive foam bumpers. These are to ensure a snug fit of both bracket and hard drive. Apply only as needed.

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

For more information, check out the MacBook Pro 13" Unibody Mid 2009 device page.

Required Tools

Phillips #00 Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock


$2.95 · 50+ In stock

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Comments Comments are onturn off

Used a Phillips #00 and a creditcard. It's an easy job, takes about 10 minutes. :)

sjoerdstra, · Reply

In step #8 the two small screws were very tight in my computer. The Phillips #00 was too large and damaging the screws. I changed to a Phillips #000 applied substantial pressure and voila, the screws came off.

Reassembly: placing the IR sensor cable (the one you"peeled off" in step #9) is a bit tricky. Start from the side opposite the IR sensor (the side with the two small screws of step 8) and press first along the short vertical side and then across towards the IR section. There should be a little left for a vertical section at the IR sensor end.

bgrinstein, · Reply

It looks like you need a Phillips #000 screwdriver for the 10 bottom screws. I tried the #00 and it's too big. Good thing I bought a 23 piece precision screwdriver set or else I would have been screwed.

scott523, · Reply

The 10 screws that hold tha bottom case take a #00 Phillips driver, if yours doesnt fit it's probably because it's cheaply made & not precise enough. The only thing that I needed a #000 driver for was the keyboard screws. They're so small they look like specks of dirt or sand. I stripped out 4 of them & now will need to grind the heads off with a Dremel/rotary tool. The other thing that sucks is iFixit doesn't have a tutorial for keyboard replacement!


Perfect man!Many thanks!:)

wertaerte, · Reply

Compare the short screws carefully before reinstalling them. The shouldered screws go in the holes on the front edge.

twisk, · Reply

thanks twisk, I wish i would have read your tip before I finished putting the bottom of my laptop back together. I managed to get all screws in somehow, but one was in fact too-tight.

BTW, big big thanks to the Author: Andrew Bookholt. Just used this guide and my trackpad now works again.


i too need a #000 for the bottom of the case -- i got the recommended screwdriver (#00) and unfortunately it's too big

plins718, · Reply

Before I started removing any screws I took a piece of paper and drew the bottom of the laptop and put a piece of double-sided tape in the spot where each screw goes. That way when I took out the screws, I could put them on the tape so I knew exactly which screw went in which spot. I did the same thing for dismantling the inside on another sheet of paper, then a third sheet for the screen after getting the front glass off.

mastover, · Reply

I use a similar technique: I print out the iFixit manual for the job, and Scotch-tape down the screws/brackets/cables I remove at each step next to the component descriptions. That way, when I'm reassembling, the bits are taped right next to the photo of where they came from.


The colours you used for these circles are indistinguishable for colour-blind people. Please consider using something like the palette suggested by visibone:

Eric Sorenson, · Reply

Squares, Circles, Triangles (you get the idea) would work as well to distinguish the different screws.


I'd use a Phillips #000 screwdriver also. The #00 can work, but if the screws are in really tight, it doesn't get far enough down into the screws to get purchase, so it will start to strip (and I agree that the screws are pretty soft). On mine, the screws for the fan were really tight, started to strip with #00, needed a #000 and quite a bit of pressure to get them to move.

jonathanmorgan, · Reply

I thought it took a 000 as well. However, I tried both and realized the 00 works best.

john, · Reply

Hi i was wondering if you can add 16gb to this model? or is 8 the maximum?

Igor, · Reply

why is step 3 necessary?

gansodesoya, · Reply

Quote from gansodesoya:

why is step 3 necessary?

Just to disconnect any power source to avoid damages by short-circuits.

MrKane, · Reply

Quote from gansodesoya:

why is step 3 necessary?

Removes the possibility of any current flow. This is especially important if you are trying to mitigate the damage to the circuitry due to a spill on a keyboard.

amiller770, · Reply

I'm thinking of ordering the spudger. I was thinking of order the heavy duty spudger... or should I just order the normal. Will either of the spudgers work for this DIY?

shockaaa, · Reply

Once you have a set of spudgers, you will wonder how you ever went without them. :-)


$@$@. Don't use an non-isolated screwdriver for this. I just shorted-out my battery :(

Lukas Besch, · Reply

You are absolutely right, never use a screwdriver on the logic board or any connector! Delicate use of fingernails or a credit card will get you through most situations if you lack a spudger.

Logan Bean,

How do you get that battery connector back on? Do you just press it in back in place after you're done?

Horace Chung, · Reply

yes. I usually plug it in before I screw it down so I can lift the battery a bit and have enough slack to be able to go straight down on the connector, otherwise it comes in on a bit of an angle, which can't be good (though not necessarily bad).


Would it not be advisable to drain the battery completely before attempting to repair, if you want to be sure you don't get a spark when removing the battery connector?


bduault, · Reply

Disconnecting the battery connector is not that different from simply unplugging a battery from an older model MacBook with a removable battery. You're not trying to protect yourself from a "spark", but the internal circuitry when taking the MacBook apart.


I neglected step 3 and now my computer won't turn on. Could I have shorted out my logic board?

Plamen, · Reply

I can't seem to loosen one of the screws... I know they are not supposed to come out, but one will not loosen, at all...... Any ideas on how to get it loose?

David, · Reply

You can stop here if you only need to replace the hard drive, right?

Joe Ireland, · Reply

Only if you don't want a hard drive in your MacBook Pro. ;P



Key steps if you need to save or access data. That is, unless you use an external HDD. Then yes, you can stop at step 7.


Straight-forward and easy to follow.

No problems except minor ones from not reading all the text...easily fixed by reading :-)

Used Carbon Copy Clone rather than Super Duper to clone drive.


I did this exactly with a 7200 RPM WD Scorpio that I had been using in my MacBook 13" Unibody (before Apple discontinued that). I get a nasty crash on boot, even with the OS X 10.6 Install DVD. I mean BSOD-equivalent crash. The MacBook Pro is brand new. Anybody know why this happens?

Blake, · Reply

I fixed it. I don't know which of the following did it. 1) I ran all software updates to the OS using the MacBook before transferring the drive again into the MBP, and 2) when I installed the drive I disconnected the battery – perhaps this reset the SMC. While booting, I held Option and it recognized the new HD right away. From then on, it booted fine.

Quote from Blake:

I did this exactly with a 7200 RPM WD Scorpio that I had been using in my MacBook 13" Unibody (before Apple discontinued that). I get a nasty crash on boot, even with the OS X 10.6 Install DVD. I mean BSOD-equivalent crash. The MacBook Pro is brand new. Anybody know why this happens?

Blake, · Reply

This could be from the Apple firmware update for 7200 RPM Drives. They released an update because these were causing vibration that people were complaining about. Maybe it wouldn't function without update?


I guess it's probably my fault that I broke the SATA cable during this step (unless the cable was somehow already weakened), but for anyone reading this, be extra careful. My connector was fitted really tightly, and when it finally came out it ripped the cable, which is pretty expensive in its own right (although you can get a cheaper deal on eBay).

nitrous, · Reply

Had no issue since installation of a 7200RPM WD Scorpio 750GB drive and had no issues with vibration. I did notice back when I got this MacBook Pro though, the pre-installed Apple branded drive was only performing at half of the 3Gbps potential (1.5)

I could see letting Apple get away with that on a consumer level machine but for the premium price, I expect performance.

Needless to say even running the same HDD on my same MBP, I've had not a single problem with the HDD upgrade. Best money spent on it along with additional RAM.

Brian, · Reply

Anyone have a source for the two 9.5mm screws?

gwaldman, · Reply

I bought the cable from ifixit and did have to peel off the IR receiver, which was surprisingly challenging. I'd never come across the ribbon cable clamp connection before and so didn't know how to open it, or how much of the new cable needed to go in. I'd also suggest marking the location of the cable that attaches to case bottom, before you pull it off. A few pencil marks would work. (That's probably a step 8 add)

gregsrow, · Reply

I had the same challenge with the ribbon cable clamp. There is a tiny orange ribbon, visible in the lower left corner of the photo for step 10, above, that needs to be connected to the new part using a tiny clamp, also visible right there in step 10. To open it, you flip up part of the clamp that is opposite the ribbon. That will release the ribbon, and enable you to slide the ribbon into the new clamp, which then you can adhere to the bracket. Hope that's helpful for future fixers.

Bryony, · Reply

Thank you, Bryony! Very helpful clarification on how to open the clamp. All set now.


Thanks. You comment should be added to the guide along with a close up photo.


Thanks to Bryony I easily fastened the small orange connector. For future fixers: I photographed the little clamp while opened: Use the edge of a credit card or a plectrum to open it.


It would REALLY be helpful if there were some instructions with close-up photos to guide you through the process of removing AND re-attaching the IR sensor component to a new drive cable. This is not intuitive and the part is very small and fragile. Forcing things the wrong way will quickly result in breaking parts. Bryony's comments were very helpful (Thank YOU!). Any way to get these steps added to the guide?

tpoyner, · Reply

Just want to endorse tpoyner's request to add guidance on how to attach the tiny, tiny orange ribbon cable to the clamp. I managed to do it without lifting the clamp but was terrified of damaging the delicate cable. Wish I'd ready Bryony's comment first.

David, · Reply

Does anyone have pictures of how to reinsert the IR orange cable? Or a link to a site that does..stuck at that part

knickerbockers16, · Reply

Success. I agree that this is the trickiest part of the job, and is the least documented.

Getting orange ribbon cable off is relatively easy, but reseating it onto the new cable was an <OMG, I am going to break this> moment.

My approach was to slide the side of a credit card underneath and use that as an in situ support. I was then able to exert some lateral force to reseat the orange cable connector into the connector on the black plastic terminal piece of the new cable.

NB: I did unpeel the sticky back of the black piece before reconnecting cables.

Advice: at the end, stick the length of the cable to the case following the original path; make sure it is flush with the other side of the case on the short vertical drop. Any slack in the cable length will foul the replacement of the back IR sensor assembly.

Good Luck!

(PS: got my cable cheaply from eBay, but I note that the date stamped on the cable is 2009, so if it was a faulty batch from that period, maybe I have a problem in store for the future...?)

Leo, · Reply

Pic 1,2 : the new 2012 cable does not fit on the old 2009 Mac.

Pic 3 : the 2009 cable on the 2009 Mac.

Pic 4, 5 : both cables 2012 821-1480-A (new but does not fit), 2009 821-0814-1 (defective, to be replaced).

Pic 6 : the clamp closed.

Pic 7 : the clamp opened with orange ribbon still in.

Pic 8, 9 : orange ribbon out.

I could open the clamp with nail.

I could unscrew with PH00.

Some crews hard as mentioned.

Sorry for the bad pictures, I did not set my camera at max resolution.

Presbytes have good lenses !

palbarede, · Reply

I have tried in every possible way, but I am not able to slide the orange ribbon deep enough in the tiny hole to make contact. The light stays off and I guess the IR receiver will not work as well.

I am very frustrated, Thanks anyway for the help.

rubecube, · Reply

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