Introduction

Use this guide to replace or upgrade your hard drive.

  • With the hinge free to move, the iMac will be unbalanced and hard to work on. Repairs can be completed as shown, but are faster and easier with an iMac service wedge.

  • Before beginning any work on your iMac: Unplug the computer and press and hold the power button for ten seconds to discharge the power supply's capacitors.

  • Be very careful not to touch the capacitor leads or any exposed solder joints on the back of the power supply. Only handle the board by the edges.

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Starting on the left of the display, near the power button, insert the iMac Opening Tool into the gap between the glass panel and the rear enclosure. The hub on the iMac Opening Tool will keep you from pushing the wheel in too far. If using a different tool, insert no more than 3/8" into the display. Otherwise, you risk severing antenna cables and causing serious damage.
  • Starting on the left of the display, near the power button, insert the iMac Opening Tool into the gap between the glass panel and the rear enclosure.

  • The hub on the iMac Opening Tool will keep you from pushing the wheel in too far. If using a different tool, insert no more than 3/8" into the display. Otherwise, you risk severing antenna cables and causing serious damage.

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Use the tool like a pizza cutter—roll it along through the gap, and it will cut the foam adhesive through the center. Be sure to always push with the handle behind the cutting wheel. If you pull, the wheel might get pulled out of the handle. Run the tool up along the left side of the display.
  • Use the tool like a pizza cutter—roll it along through the gap, and it will cut the foam adhesive through the center.

  • Be sure to always push with the handle behind the cutting wheel. If you pull, the wheel might get pulled out of the handle.

  • Run the tool up along the left side of the display.

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Continue running the tool up around the top left corner. Continue running the tool up around the top left corner. Continue running the tool up around the top left corner.
  • Continue running the tool up around the top left corner.

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Cut the adhesive along the top left of the display. Cut the adhesive along the top left of the display.
  • Cut the adhesive along the top left of the display.

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Continue along the top of the display. You may want to run the tool back and forth through what you've already cut a few times, to ensure you get as much of the adhesive separated as possible.
  • Continue along the top of the display.

  • You may want to run the tool back and forth through what you've already cut a few times, to ensure you get as much of the adhesive separated as possible.

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Push the tool around the top right corner of the display. Push the tool around the top right corner of the display. Push the tool around the top right corner of the display.
  • Push the tool around the top right corner of the display.

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Wheel the tool down along the right side of the display. Wheel the tool down along the right side of the display.
  • Wheel the tool down along the right side of the display.

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Finish pushing the opening tool to the bottom of the right side of the display. At this point, you'll want to run the tool back around the entire display, to ensure you cut as much adhesive as possible.
  • Finish pushing the opening tool to the bottom of the right side of the display.

  • At this point, you'll want to run the tool back around the entire display, to ensure you cut as much adhesive as possible.

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While the opening tool cut most of the adhesive, the display will still be slightly adhered to the case. A plastic card will be necessary to free up the last of this adhesive. Set the iMac face-up on a table. Starting from the top right corner of the iMac, wedge a plastic card between the display and frame.
  • While the opening tool cut most of the adhesive, the display will still be slightly adhered to the case. A plastic card will be necessary to free up the last of this adhesive.

  • Set the iMac face-up on a table.

  • Starting from the top right corner of the iMac, wedge a plastic card between the display and frame.

  • Be careful not to insert the plastic card more than 3/8", or you may damage internal components.

Don't forget to place the mac face up on the table. Unlike older models, there is no more flap at the bottom holding the display in place. If you do these steps with the Mac upright, the screen will pop out, hit your table, and shatter :( Don't ask me how I know.

John M - Reply

So sorry. Thanks for that caution.

Ted Horodynsky - Reply

John. May I contact outside of this posting for a question please? Thank you. Ted.

Ted Horodynsky - Reply

Gently twist the plastic card sideways to create a gap between the display and frame. Move slowly and be careful not to stress the display glass too much—you only need to make a gap of about 1/4".
  • Gently twist the plastic card sideways to create a gap between the display and frame.

  • Move slowly and be careful not to stress the display glass too much—you only need to make a gap of about 1/4".

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Slide the card toward the center of the display to cut any of the remaining adhesive along the top right corner of the iMac. Be sure to stop before the iSight camera, or you may damage it. Be sure to stop before the iSight camera, or you may damage it.
  • Slide the card toward the center of the display to cut any of the remaining adhesive along the top right corner of the iMac.

  • Be sure to stop before the iSight camera, or you may damage it.

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Wedge the plastic card into the top right corner once again and let it stay there to keep the adhesive from resettling. Wedge the plastic card into the top right corner once again and let it stay there to keep the adhesive from resettling.
  • Wedge the plastic card into the top right corner once again and let it stay there to keep the adhesive from resettling.

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Insert a second plastic card into the gap between the display and frame located at the top left corner of the iMac. Insert a second plastic card into the gap between the display and frame located at the top left corner of the iMac. Insert a second plastic card into the gap between the display and frame located at the top left corner of the iMac.
  • Insert a second plastic card into the gap between the display and frame located at the top left corner of the iMac.

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Gently twist the card upward, slightly increasing the space between the display and frame. As with the other side, twist slowly to allow the adhesive time to separate, and be careful not to over-stress the display glass.
  • Gently twist the card upward, slightly increasing the space between the display and frame.

  • As with the other side, twist slowly to allow the adhesive time to separate, and be careful not to over-stress the display glass.

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Slide the plastic card toward the center, again stopping just before the iSight camera. Slide the plastic card toward the center, again stopping just before the iSight camera. Slide the plastic card toward the center, again stopping just before the iSight camera.
  • Slide the plastic card toward the center, again stopping just before the iSight camera.

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Wedge the plastic card back into the top left corner. Wedge the plastic card back into the top left corner.
  • Wedge the plastic card back into the top left corner.

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With both plastic cards inserted as shown near the corners, gently twist the cards sideways to increase the gap between display and case. If there are any sections that seem to stick and won't separate, stop twisting and use one of the cards to cut the remaining adhesive. Begin to lift the top of the display up from the frame.
  • With both plastic cards inserted as shown near the corners, gently twist the cards sideways to increase the gap between display and case.

  • If there are any sections that seem to stick and won't separate, stop twisting and use one of the cards to cut the remaining adhesive.

  • Begin to lift the top of the display up from the frame.

  • Only lift the display a few inches—the display data and power cables are still connected to the logic board.

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While holding the display up with one hand, use the other hand to unplug the display power cable. Make sure that you pull the cable out from the plastic tab, and not by pulling on the color wires. Lift the display up enough to have easy access to the connector, but not so much that you stretch the cables and stress their connections (about 8").
  • While holding the display up with one hand, use the other hand to unplug the display power cable. Make sure that you pull the cable out from the plastic tab, and not by pulling on the color wires.

  • Lift the display up enough to have easy access to the connector, but not so much that you stretch the cables and stress their connections (about 8").

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Use the tip of a spudger to flip up the metal retaining bracket on the display data cable. Carefully pull the display data cable from its socket on the logic board. Be sure to pull the display data cable connector straight out of its socket.
  • Use the tip of a spudger to flip up the metal retaining bracket on the display data cable.

  • Carefully pull the display data cable from its socket on the logic board.

  • Be sure to pull the display data cable connector straight out of its socket.

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Lift the display up to a near-vertical position. At this point there is still a strip of adhesive along the bottom of the display, that will hold the display to the frame like a hinge. You can loosen this adhesive by working the display up and down a few times.
  • Lift the display up to a near-vertical position.

  • At this point there is still a strip of adhesive along the bottom of the display, that will hold the display to the frame like a hinge. You can loosen this adhesive by working the display up and down a few times.

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If necessary, a plastic card can be used to cut any remaining sections of the bottom adhesive strip. If necessary, a plastic card can be used to cut any remaining sections of the bottom adhesive strip.
  • If necessary, a plastic card can be used to cut any remaining sections of the bottom adhesive strip.

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Lift the display up from the frame and remove it from the iMac. It may be necessary to slowly lift from one side, to peel against the remaining adhesive. Be very careful handling the display—it's big, heavy, and made of glass.
  • Lift the display up from the frame and remove it from the iMac.

  • It may be necessary to slowly lift from one side, to peel against the remaining adhesive.

  • Be very careful handling the display—it's big, heavy, and made of glass.

  • Upon reassembly, now is the time to go to the Adhesive Strips Guide after cleaning off all the old adhesive. iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2544 Adhesive Strips Replacement

After removing the display, I also removed the 3 screws for the processor fan, disconnected the power connector for it and set the fan shroud aside. Disconnecting the remaining cable (similar style to 1 of the cables for the display) that is in the way of the RAM chips is all that's left to do. I was then able to access and quickly remove the two Apple-provided RAM chips, and replace them with 3rd party RAM. Turning the iMac on its side, so that it's in a position where you're physically putting the RAM chips DOWNWARD into their respective slots is the best way to go about uninstalling and reinstalling the chips. Using a narrow but long'ish plastic spudger tool is the best way to defeat the spring-tabs which hold the RAM chips in place. After removing the LCD display, changing the RAM is about a 10 minute process!! And I'd SURE prefer not to remove all the parts and risk damage to the iMac via the standard procedure listed. As per usual, take your time and work gently :-)

Mitch K - Reply

Remove the following screws securing the hard drive bracket to the rear enclosure:
  • Remove the following screws securing the hard drive bracket to the rear enclosure:

    • Two 21 mm T10 Torx screws from the left-hand hard drive bracket.

    • One 9mm T10 Torx screw.

    • One 27 mm T10 Torx screw.

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Remove the left and right hard drive brackets from the iMac. Remove the left and right hard drive brackets from the iMac.
  • Remove the left and right hard drive brackets from the iMac.

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Lift the hard drive from the edge nearest the fan and pull it slightly out of its recess. The hard drive is attached by two cables, do not attempt to fully remove it from the iMac just yet. The hard drive is attached by two cables, do not attempt to fully remove it from the iMac just yet.
  • Lift the hard drive from the edge nearest the fan and pull it slightly out of its recess.

  • The hard drive is attached by two cables, do not attempt to fully remove it from the iMac just yet.

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Disconnect the SATA power cable. Disconnect the SATA power cable.
  • Disconnect the SATA power cable.

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Unplug the SATA data cable from the hard drive. Unplug the SATA data cable from the hard drive.
  • Unplug the SATA data cable from the hard drive.

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Lift and remove the hard drive from the iMac.
  • Lift and remove the hard drive from the iMac.

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Peel the flexible hard drive sleeve off the top left corner of the hard drive. Peel the flexible hard drive sleeve off the top left corner of the hard drive.
  • Peel the flexible hard drive sleeve off the top left corner of the hard drive.

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Continue peeling the hard drive sleeve off the adhesive securing it to the hard drive. Remove the sleeve from the hard drive.
  • Continue peeling the hard drive sleeve off the adhesive securing it to the hard drive.

  • Remove the sleeve from the hard drive.

  • Hard Drive remains.

Followed the instructions in this guide using the included tool that I got with the strips. Everything worked great. Put in a brand new Samsung 850 Evo 250GB Drive. The guide makes it sound a little bit more complicated but everything went pretty smooth. Just took it slow and easy.

Michael Conrad - Reply

Conclusion

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse and use our Adhesive Strips Guide to reattach the display glass.

114 other people completed this guide.

Sam Lionheart

Member since: 10/18/2012

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22 Comments

I used the iMac Opening Tool just as shown in this guide to separate the tape. DISASTER! The screen cracked! I used the tool slowly and carefully and despite this, the screen cracked. I should have simply used a guitar pick. That said, while I was inside my iMac replacing the Harddisk with a SSD, which was pretty easy to do, I decided to also see if I could replaced the 8GB RAM with 16GB RAM WITHOUT removing the logic board, as shown in other instructions on this site. I found that by simply removing the fan assembly, this makes enough room to reach behind the logic board and unclip the 2 memory modules. I installed 2 8GB modules (1600MHz DDR3L SO-DIMM PC12800 204 Pin) without much trouble. I used a plastic stick to reach behind the logic board and unclip the existing memory modules, then carefully inserted the new ones and clipped them into place. This is much easier than removing the power supply and logic board and all of the associated connectors and screws.

gcortesi - Reply

I had to replace the HD as it failed after less than two years. It was a good opportunity to increase the RAM from 8 to 16 GB. So I ordered the RAM chips from Kingston and a 256 GB SSD from Angelbird.

The repair went smoothly: to anyone trying this, please carefully follow the iFixit step-by-step guide. I recommend reading at least twice the whole procedure *before* beginning. Check all the photos. During the operation itself, I had the guide open before my eyes on my iPad and followed it step by step. The opening tool is a bit fragile, the wheel got damaged after the operation, but I guess it was designed to be used only once. After all, the adhesive strips can also be used only once!

For those replacing the hard-disk with an SSD: I highly recommend the Angelbird model "SSD wrk for Mac" (http://www.angelbird.com/en/prod/ssd-wrk...), for several dollars more you spare yourself the need to use additional software to enable TRIM or persuade the fans of your Mac that the HD's temperature is Ok.

lix - Reply

Thanks for the tip on the Angelbird, working smoothly so far!

Elling -

after changing the hard drive the monitor no longer works. Apple won't fix it because I opened it, and third-part wants to charge me $300-500. Hope you guys have better luck!

max - Reply

Very simple so long as you take your time. I had the benefit of an on site screen replacement so could see what the tech did. A few tips inc links to photos.

1. Use a marker to draw a line on the plastic card so you can see the max depth.

http://imgur.com/cyjlRqo

2. Use sticky tape either side of Apple logo on the front of the iMac, you can then position and rest the screen on the lower ledge in the right place, hold with the tape (don't remove the adhesive backing tape at this stage). The tape then acts as a hinge so screen can be lowered and raised to refit connectors and remove backing tape. More tape at top will allow you to trial fit and test prior to sealing the screen back on. It's what the Applecare tech did when he changed the screen!!

http://imgur.com/PyPNsdE

http://imgur.com/IqRFsTt

3. Be careful when removing old adhesive. Screen has a black plastic type backing to it (this forms the black frame that you see from the front) and is easy to peel and damage.

http://imgur.com/Nntas1f

finepics - Reply

Good input. I just ordered the strips to swap my HD with a SSD. I've tested i via USB but it keeps getting corrupted, second SSD too and people say it's the fact that I'm running it via USB. So now I'm ready for the big step and actually taking apart my iMac :)

Tape seems like an excellent idea. What's that silvery tape you used?

Daniel Mores -

Excellent guide and parts. My late 2012 iMac hard drive failed. As a side note, it passed SMART and Apple Diagnostics but was extremely slow - only about 5 MB/s transfer. In the logs I would occasionally see ioError but rarely.

[br]

I bought a new Retina iMac before attempting to fix this one. I'm a retired programmer and fixed computers all the time when I was young and could see better. So I was a little apprehensive about doing this but it went off without a glitch.

[br]

finepics comment and images above was helpful. Not mentioned was you need to clean off the adhesive from both the display and the iMac body. I wasn't sure if the black stuff on the display was supposed to stay as a mask but researching tech notes elsewhere said to remove it and that was correct.

[br]

Thanks so much to ifixit! I'm a long way from an Apple Store so this saved a lot of inconvenience as well as money. I bought an SSD to replace hard drive and that was less than just the labor from Apple.

steveo - Reply

This was a very straightforward repair and a lot easier than I imagined. I'm coming from a background of working on iPhones & iPads, this was a breeze in comparison. It took me only a few minutes to open it with the recommended tools. The adhesive was really easy to remove and replace as well. I could probably do the next one in less than half an hour from start to finish (excluding the time it takes to install the OS). Thank you for this guide!

My recommendation for anyone trying this, buy the service wedge. If it's your own iMac, it's definitely worth it if you need to open it up again. If you're in the repair business, it's a no-brainer. It tilts and holds the iMac at the perfect position to repair the device and the perfect position to lay the screen on the iMac before you seal it up.

jacob - Reply

I replaced the hard drive following the guide and used the adhesive strips which are a must.

You DO NEED to be very careful with the step of the "credit card" used to separate the screen from the frame.

Make sure to design a reference line on the card in order to avoid to push it too far inside the frame and risk to damage the screen connections. Many users failed to perform this part of the repair procedure and had to replace the screen itself.

Patrick Putignano - Reply

I followed this perfect guide and I replaced the HD with a SSD of Kingston. The iMac comes on because you hear the usual "going" but the screen remains black. I tried to connect an external monitor and is the same black. What may have happened?

TOMMASO CONVERSANO - Reply

Same here, I replaced Samsung Evo 850 SSD, I can hear the start sound but it never show the Apple logo. The screen remains black.

Yas -

Will I have fan problems replacing my HD with an Samsung Evo 850 SSD on my iMac 2012 21.5?

I don't plan on installing fan software. Will this be a problem?

What fan is the one people are saying will run faster? CPU fan?

Will a 2.5 SSD fit fine?

filettransfer - Reply

Working on an iMac is a lot like working on a laptop. This is an awesome guide, but if you've never done it before it's not a good starter project.

Ian Armstrong - Reply

Changed the horribly slow original hardrive to a Samsung 850 EVO SSD. Used the opening tool and the cards and everything went very well. Just be sure to follow the instructions very carefully and make sure you buy the adhesive stripes for the reassamble. I also added some extra RAM while opening the machine. I added an extra 8 GB from Crucial (1600MHz DDR3L SO-DIMM PC12800 204 Pin) so now I have 12 GB and that is enough for me. I did as stated above and removed the fan and then you can remove the RAM if you are very carefully. If you do as I did and upgrade only one of slots, one of the slots is very easy to reach. While being inside the machine I also carefully vacuumed the inside since there were som dust in there. My iMac now feels as good as new and is so much faster so the upgrade was well worth it.

Mikael - Reply

hi, for the fans how you solved? Thank you

Labbrone -

Super facile avec le kit de bandes adhésives et la roulette. J'ai pu remplacer facilement mon HD par un SSD Evo. J'en ai même profité pour remplacer les barrettes de RAM! Piece of cake.

cohou - Reply

Are the torx screws TR10 (security) or T10 (non-security)?

Kyle Johnson - Reply

The screws are T10, but TR10 would work just fine!

Sam Lionheart -

Super easy to remove the LCD.

I use a utility knife and slow and carefully go around the LCD (1/4" deep). You can feel the tension as you move it along, so just go through it until the knife blade past every gap smoothly. Just keep going through it until all adhesive is loose and I mean ALL adhesive. At the end the knife should go along the LCD gap without any tension. At that point, just lift it up as described above. It should be so smooth that it feels there's no adhesive at all.

Samuel Kwok - Reply

Will a 15mm Hard drive fit into this iMac? I can't tell and I'd like to know before attempting the replacement.

mgrayjr - Reply

Excelente guía !! Instalé un SSD Crucial M550 1 TB y todo salió perfecto, ahora mi iMac 2012 vuela!! Gracias

Roberto Herrera - Reply

Je viens de réaliser le changement de mon ancien DD par un SSD Samsung 850 Pro de 512Go, juste impressionnant, tout va plus vite!

C’était la première fois que je démontais un ordi, en étant très précautionneux et en suivant le tutoriel à la lettre, aucun souci. Pour le double face, j’ai mis un 3M standard de 6mm de largeur, ça convient parfaitement.

Avant la manip, j’ai utilisé Carbon Copy Cloner en version d’évaluation juste le temps du changement. J’ai retrouvé tout mon environnement après l’installation.

Juste un petit souci sur Microsoft Office qu’il faut réactiver sur le nouveau disque.

David E. - Reply

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