MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Upper Case Replacement

Transfer over your trackpad and replace the upper case on your MacBook Unibody Model A1278.

Use this guide to replace your upper case. The end of this guide details how to transfer the trackpad to your new upper case.

Edit Step 1 Access Door  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 Access Door  ¶ 

  • With the case closed, place the Unibody top-side down on a flat surface.

  • Depress the grooved side of the access door release latch enough to grab the free end. Lift the release latch until it is vertical.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • The access door should now be raised enough to lift it up and out of the Unibody.

Edit Step 3 Battery  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3 Battery  ¶ 

  • Be sure the access door release latch is vertical before proceeding.

  • Grab the white plastic tab and pull the battery up and out of the Unibody.

Edit Step 4 Lower Case  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4 Lower Case  ¶ 

  • Remove the following eight screws securing the lower case to the chassis:

    • One 3 mm Phillips screw.

    • Three 13.5 mm Phillips screws.

    • Four 3.5 mm Phillips screws.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Using both hands, lift and remove the lower case off the upper case.

Edit Step 6 Display Assembly  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6 Display Assembly  ¶ 

  • Disconnect the camera cable by pulling the male end straight away from its socket.

    • Be careful not to pull up on the cable as you remove it from the socket.

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • De-route the camera data cable from the channel in the optical drive.

Edit Step 8  ¶ 

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • Remove the following screws securing the camera data cable and right speaker to the upper case:

    • One 9.9 mm partially threaded Phillips screw

    • One 9.6 mm threaded Phillips screw

    • One 4 mm Phillips screw

  • Slide the camera cable bracket out from under the subwoofer and remove it from the computer.

  • The iSight cable has an eyelet through which passes the left-most screw in these pictures.

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Grab the plastic pull tab secured to the display data cable lock and rotate it toward the DC-in side of the computer.

  • Pull the display data cable connector straight away from its socket.

  • Make sure to pull the connector straight away and not straight up from its socket.

Edit Step 10  ¶ 

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Remove the following two screws from the display data cable bracket:

    • One 7 mm Phillips screw.

    • One 5 mm Phillips screw.

  • Lift the display data cable bracket out of the upper case.

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Remove the two outer 6 mm Torx screws securing each side of the display to the upper case (4 screws total).

Edit Step 12  ¶ 

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • Open your MacBook so the display is perpendicular to the upper case.

  • Place your opened MacBook on a table as pictured.

  • While holding the display and upper case together with your left hand, remove the 6 mm Torx screw from the lower display bracket.

Edit Step 13  ¶ 

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • Be sure to hold the display and upper case together with your left hand. Failure to do so may cause the freed display/upper case to fall, potentially damaging each component.

  • Remove the last remaining 6 mm Torx screw securing the display to the upper case.

Edit Step 14  ¶ 

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Grab the upper case with your right hand and rotate it slightly toward the top of the display so the upper display bracket clears the edge of the upper case.

  • Rotate the display slightly away from the upper case.

  • Lift the display away from the upper case, minding any brackets or cables that may get caught.

Edit Step 15 Upper Case  ¶ 

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Edit Step 15 Upper Case  ¶ 

  • Some 2.0 GHz A1278 MacBook Unibody logic boards do not have the necessary socket installed to accept the keyboard backlight ribbon cable attached to the upper case. The first and second pictures show logic boards with and without the socket installed, respectively. If your logic board does not have the backlight ribbon cable socket installed, the keyboard will work but the keys will not light up.

  • If your logic board does not have the socket installed to accept the keyboard backlight ribbon cable and you are installing a backlit upper case, simply tuck the keyboard backlight ribbon cable out of the way when you reinstall the logic board into the upper case.

Edit Step 16  ¶ 

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • Remove the single Phillips screw securing the hard drive bracket to the chassis.

  • This screw is captive to the hard drive bracket.

Edit Step 17  ¶ 

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • Lift the hard drive by its pull tab enough to grab and remove the retaining bracket.

  • Lift the hard drive out of the chassis, minding the cable attaching it to the computer.

Edit Step 18  ¶ 

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Edit Step 18  ¶ 

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

Edit Step 19  ¶ 

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Edit Step 19  ¶ 

  • Remove the four 10.3 mm Phillips screws securing the mid wall to the upper case.

Edit Step 20  ¶ 

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Edit Step 20  ¶ 

  • Lift the mid wall out of the upper case.

Edit Step 21  ¶ 

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Edit Step 21  ¶ 

  • Remove the following three screws securing the fan to the upper case:

    • Two 5 mm Phillips screws.

    • One 7 mm Phillips screw.

Edit Step 22  ¶ 

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Edit Step 22  ¶ 

  • Use a spudger to pry the fan connector straight up and out of its socket on the logic board.

  • It is useful to twist the spudger axially from beneath the fan cable wires to release the connector.

  • The fan socket and the fan connector can be seen in the second and third pictures. Be careful not to break the plastic fan socket off the logic board as you use your spudger to lift the fan connector straight up and out of its socket. The layout of the logic board shown in the second picture may look slightly different than your machine but the fan socket is the same.

Edit Step 23  ¶ 

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Edit Step 23  ¶ 

  • Lift the fan out of the upper case.

Edit Step 24  ¶ 

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Edit Step 24  ¶ 

  • Using the flat end of a spudger, pry the subwoofer connector straight up off the logic board.

Edit Step 25  ¶ 

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Edit Step 25  ¶ 

  • Remove the single Phillips screw securing the subwoofer to the upper case.

Edit Step 26  ¶ 

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Edit Step 26  ¶ 

  • The subwoofer is still connected to the right speaker, so don't completely remove it just yet.

  • Lift the subwoofer off the optical drive, and set it above the computer.

Edit Step 27  ¶ 

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Edit Step 27  ¶ 

  • Use a spudger to pry the optical drive connector straight up off the logic board.

Edit Step 28  ¶ 

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Edit Step 28  ¶ 

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

Edit Step 29  ¶ 

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Edit Step 29  ¶ 

  • Remove the three 2.5 mm Phillips screws securing the optical drive to the upper case.

Edit Step 30  ¶ 

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Edit Step 30  ¶ 

  • Lift the optical drive from its right edge and pull it out of the computer.

Edit Step 31  ¶ 

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Edit Step 31  ¶ 

  • Peel the hard drive cable from the adhesive securing it to the upper case, and maneuver the plastic retaining block out of the upper case.

  • The hard drive cable and the plastic retaining block are attached together.

Edit Step 32  ¶ 

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Edit Step 32  ¶ 

  • Peel back the small piece of black tape covering the right speaker cable.

  • Use the tip of a spudger to pry the right speaker up off the adhesive securing it to the upper case.

  • Lift the subwoofer and right speaker assembly out of the upper case.

Edit Step 33  ¶ 

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Edit Step 33  ¶ 

  • Use the tip of a spudger to flip up the locking lever to release the IR sensor ribbon cable from its socket.

  • Pull the IR sensor ribbon cable straight away from the logic board.

Edit Step 34  ¶ 

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Edit Step 34  ¶ 

  • Use the flat end of a spudger to pry the trackpad connector straight up off the logic board.

Edit Step 35  ¶ 

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Edit Step 35  ¶ 

  • Using the tip of a spudger, flip up the keyboard ribbon cable retaining flap.

  • Pull the keyboard ribbon cable straight out of its socket.

Edit Step 36  ¶ 

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Edit Step 36  ¶ 

  • Remove the two 5 mm Phillips screws securing the keyboard flex bracket to the upper case.

  • Lift the keyboard flex bracket out of the upper case.

Edit Step 37  ¶ 

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Edit Step 37  ¶ 

  • Remove the single Phillips screw securing the battery cable cover to the upper case.

  • Remove the battery cable cover from the upper case.

Edit Step 38  ¶ 

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Edit Step 38  ¶ 

  • Use a spudger to pry the battery level indicator cable connector straight up off the logic board.

Edit Step 39  ¶ 

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Edit Step 39  ¶ 

  • Disconnect the battery cable connector by pulling it straight away from the logic board.

  • If you cannot grasp the cable with your fingers, a spudger and tweezers may be helpful for removal.

Edit Step 40  ¶ 

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Edit Step 40  ¶ 

  • Remove the two 4mm Phillips screws securing the bottom case clip to the upper case.

  • Lift the bottom case clip out of the upper case.

Edit Step 41  ¶ 

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Edit Step 41  ¶ 

  • Use the tip of a spudger to release the microphone from the upper case.

Edit Step 42  ¶ 

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Edit Step 42  ¶ 

  • Remove the following five screws securing the logic board to the upper case:

    • Four 3 mm Phillips screws.

    • One 3.5 mm Phillips screw.

  • Remove the two 7 mm Phillips screws securing the DC-in board to the upper case.

  • Lift the logic board from its left edge and pull it out of the upper case.

Edit Step 43  ¶ 

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Edit Step 43  ¶ 

  • If you are buying a new upper case from us, the next two steps are not necessary. Your upper case will come with these parts preinstalled.

  • Remove the following screws securing the battery connector cover to the upper case:

    • One 2.5 mm Phillips screw.

    • Two 1.5 mm Phillips screws.

  • Lift the battery connector cover out of the upper case.

Edit Step 44  ¶ 

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Edit Step 44  ¶ 

  • De-route the battery connector cable through the gap in the upper case and remove it from the computer.

  • If you are installing an Upper Case that is missing the black bracket in the middle then transfer it from the old case to the replacement.

Edit Step 45 Upper Case  ¶ 

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Edit Step 45 Upper Case  ¶ 

  • Remove the six 1.4 mm Y0 Tri-wing screws securing the trackpad to the upper case.

Edit Step 46  ¶ 

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Edit Step 46  ¶ 

  • Carefully dislodge the edge of the trackpad closest to the keyboard from its recess in the upper case by pushing it away from the brackets attached to the upper case.

  • De-route the trackpad cable through its slot cut into the upper case.

Edit Step 47  ¶ 

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Edit Step 47  ¶ 

  • Pull the trackpad away from the outer edge of the upper case.

  • Remove the trackpad and set it aside.

Edit Step 48  ¶ 

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Edit Step 48  ¶ 

  • In the following steps, you will be working on your new upper case.

  • Use a Y1 Tri-wing screwdriver to loosely install the 1.2 mm set screw included with your new upper case into its tapped hole near the middle of the trackpad opening on your new upper case.

  • Only tighten it about one turn for now.

Edit Step 49  ¶ 

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Edit Step 49  ¶ 

  • Carefully insert the cable from your old trackpad through its slot cut into your new upper case.

  • Use one hand to hold the trackpad cable in place as you insert the two retaining tabs on the outer edge of the trackpad under the lip on the upper case.

  • Pull the trackpad cable as you seat the trackpad into its void in your new upper case.

Edit Step 50  ¶ 

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Edit Step 50  ¶ 

  • Insert a 1.4 mm Y0 Tri-wing screw into each of the outer holes drilled into the trackpad (two screws total).

  • You'll install the rest in a bit.

  • Tighten the screws all the way, then back them out about a quarter turn to aid in aligning your trackpad during the next few steps.

Edit Step 51  ¶ 

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Edit Step 51  ¶ 

  • While continually trying to click your trackpad, gently tighten the Y1 Tri-wing set screw until the clicks return to their factory "feel".

  • You can tell when the screw is tightened just right by the noise it makes when the trackpad clicks. If the set screw is too loose, the trackpad will have excessive play before it clicks. If it is too tight, the trackpad will click too easily and won't make the characteristic loud mouse clicking noise.

Edit Step 52  ¶ 

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Edit Step 52  ¶ 

  • Next, flip your upper case over so the keyboard side is facing up.

  • Align the trackpad so it is centered in its hole cut into the upper case.

Edit Step 53  ¶ 

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Edit Step 53  ¶ 

  • Tighten the outer two screws along the inner edge of the trackpad and check the alignment of it on the outer side of the upper case.

  • If its alignment looks good, install the rest of the Y0 Tri-wing screws along the inner edge of the trackpad.

  • Before reassembling your machine, verify that the set screw is still installed in a position so the mouse will click correctly.

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

For more information, check out the MacBook Unibody Model A1278 device page.

Required Tools

Spudger

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$9.95 · 22 In stock

Phillips #00 Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

Tri-point Y1 Screwdriver

$7.95 · 50+ In stock

Recommended Tools

54 Bit Driver Kit

$29.95 · 50+ In stock

Pro Magnetic Project Mat

$19.95 · 50+ In stock

Pro Tech Screwdriver Set

$59.95 · 50+ In stock

Anti-Static Project Tray

$4.95 · 50+ In stock

Comments Comments are onturn off

On steps 50 and 53, be VERY careful to stop tightening the small, weak Y0 screws when you meet even just a little resistance. I made the mistake of tightening them too hard, and broke the tops off of two of them! Luckily I was able to remove one of the screws, but now one of them is stuck in one of the trackpad holes, unable to be removed.

seanheff17, · Reply

i did upgrade to backlit keyboard by adding the backlight to my keyboard. All works well thanks to this guide. Just try to keep all the screws in theyr place coz you can mistake them very easy and screwing the wrong screw in the wrong holle you may endup damaging the body(i hope it make sense). Good Luck

Nick, · Reply

Actually I was looking for a way to remove only the keyboard to clean it, but since there is no guide I followed this one for most of the steps. No need to remove the display assembly and trackpad. But beware that after you remove the logic board and optical drive, you have to remove 3 layers (black, transparent and white) of foil covering the back of the keyboard and then there are like 50 absurdly tiny screws holding the keyboard to the frame. Also there are 2 screws in the upper left corner holding the power button which is connected to the keyboard through a small ribbon cable. After that you can lift the keyboard out easily.

Chris Popov, · Reply

Tips: Label Screws by guide step number and size as you go. That way you can easily backtrack and any divergences between your machine's screws and the guide's will be a non-issue.

Also, be careful when removing and tightening screws. I stripped one of my screws and almost needed to call in the pros.

Use common sense throughout your fix. Nothing should be forced. Take breaks and return with a clear head.

Good luck!

pkchitan, · Reply

On my new top case, the separator between the dvd drive and the motherboard was missing (the one you can see on the left of step 50 picture). Took the one from the old top case and it worked but I dont know if my new case was missing it or if something is missing in the guide.

Also the screw to adjust the "click" of the trackpad is a nightmare.. I dont know how I managed to make it work but I hope I ll never have to touch it again as I think it is a bit "screwed" now.

Except this ... everything went fine and I can now use my macbook like before which is the most important !. Now I feel more confortable, I may open it again to put a HDD instead of dvd player.

baptistedeclercq, · Reply

The keyboard backlite cannot function after replace a 2nd hand keyboard from eBay. Believe the problem was from keyboard itself however the keyboard does have LED layers. And prohibited icon will be shown on screen when F5/F6 Keys (backlite control key) was pressed.

* the guide is good , thank you!

* if you looking for keyboard replacement only, steps 11-14 and 44-53 can be skipped.

* there is more than 40 tiny screws to secure the keyboard. Beware all of them are just too soft. don't play it so hard or you may have trouble to remove all of them.

Kamiiyu, · Reply

On my model, it seemed the top-left was 3.5mm and the bottom 4 were 3 mm.

Jim, · Reply

Be EXTREMELY careful when removing and re-inserting the 'camera' cable. The contacts can be easily bent beyond repair if you try to force it back in. Damaging this cable at this connection or near the display may disable your ability to use your iSight camera, AND both your Bluetooth and WiFi. I had to pay apple $300 to replace the entire display assembly because one prong was faulty, causing my WiFi card to not be recognized.

seanheff17, · Reply

Although I ordered the screen for an A1278 MacBook Unibody Aluminum, the screen glass was marked as a MacBook Pro. The iSight/WiFi /BT cable was about an inch longer than the Macbook one and took a bit of creative re-routing, but everything works fine.

tjod, · Reply

has it got the airport and bluetooth modules built in separately in the display assembly as in the macbook late 2008 and mbp mid 2009?

fericcio,

"orange" is the short one, that goes in the middle ;)

MrGreen, · Reply

My model has different bracket, you need to remove the subwoofer first

Andrea Ghensi, · Reply

i can't understand what I need to do in this step, I'm afraid with this step, i think i can "hurt" my mac and i don't want to do that, anyone knows what i need to do?

Thanks

Lucas Brges, · Reply

There is a steel 'latch' that flips over from the left side of the connector, to the right side. After you flip this latch over, the cable will easily slide out.

madmaxmedia, · Reply

as I pulled the monitor cable out of the bracket after flipping the lock over one side of the bracket broke loose. Now the monitor will not turn on. Can anyone help?

boldtu, · Reply

Note for Step 10 during reassembly: Be careful when replacing the screw for the display cable bracket closest to the magnetic power cord receptacle. The interior magnet might attract the screw causing the screw to get pulled under the DC power circuit board which might then require that you disassemble things again to retrieve the screw.

wintermute, · Reply

I didn't have that part in my MB at all

grze, · Reply

Note to Step 41: the 3.5 mm Phillips screw and the 3 mm Phillips screw directly opposite were swapped in my MacBook. I believe the screws as indicated in the iFixIt guide are currently incorrect as it seems that the location in my MacBook would be correct as all 3 mm screws engage directly into the top case while the one 3.5 mm screw engages into the black bracket.

wintermute, · Reply

During your checkout of your hard work, make sure in System Preferences that the (use all F1, F2 etc. keys as standard function keys) box is unchecked.

ChasCam580, · Reply

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