MacBook Unibody Backlit Keyboard Upgrade

March 25, 2009 Hardware — brady
MacBook Unibody 2.0 GHz and its Future Backlit Keyboard

MacBook Unibody 2.0 GHz and its Future Backlit Keyboard

We have finally answered the question some of our users kept asking: “Can the MacBook Unibody 2.0 GHz be upgraded to a backlit keyboard?” We were able to successfully switch the non-backlit keyboard to a backlit keyboard on our MacBook Unibody 2.0 GHz machine! You don’t have to regret purchasing an earlier version of the Unibody if you really wanted a backlit keyboard. However, the upgrade process is certainly not easy.

The keyboard is integrated into the MacBook Unibody’s upper case (along with pretty much all other internal components). You will have to remove everything from the upper case, including the display assembly, in order to replace the upper case. The most useful tips we can provide are to keep track of your screws because they can be easily misplaced, and to take your time while reassembling the Unibody. Nobody appreciates putting everything back twice because of a small cable that was left disconnected.

We will be making a set of take-apart guides for the MacBook Unibody in the near future. Although it’s not a substitute for our very-detailed guides, you can use the MacBook Unibody First Look to get a general understanding of how to go about replacing the upper case.

Please comment on your experience with this upgrade — we would love to hear from you! Keep on tinkering!


  1. Hey! I just went out and got the 2.0Ghz Macbook Unibody and was looking into this upgrade. Could you post instructions!? ….also i was wondering if it was possible to just replace the keyboard instead of the whole entire upper case….

    Comment by John — April 9, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

  2. Hey John,
    We are definitely working on a guide for the new Unibody machines, but there is no ETA as of yet. The keyboard can be removed from the uppercase however, you need the back-lit upper case to achieve the back-lighting functionality. We removed the keyboard from the upper case in our first look:

    Comment by Brady — April 10, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

  3. Thanks a lot!, how long do you think it would take me to replace the entire upper case of the macbook and do you think that it is worth it, or should i just return this model to apple and get the 1599 model.

    Comment by John — April 10, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  4. I think if Apple will return your laptop with no restocking fee, that would be the wiser choice. This is a very involved task that requires completely gutting the machine and then putting everything back in its place with no guide to help along the way. I would recommend this procedure for master tinkerers only.

    Comment by Brady — April 10, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

  5. Thanks for the help… i am definitely looking into that,..

    Comment by John — April 10, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

  6. Hi,
    I have a new Unibody Macbook 2.0ghz and i am very excited about this. I am just wondering where you guys are at with this guide? I put my email notification into the new illumiated keyboard, so I am just waiting on the guide. Thanks,


    Comment by Craig — May 31, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

  7. It’s actually pretty simple to buidl in the backlight. You just have to take out the logic board and the superdrive. You don’t have to take out the keyboard! Just add the LED foil from a topcase you bought. A friend of mine did it. He paid only 30€ for a topcase with backlight. Now he enjoys using his 2GHz Unibody with backlit keyboard :-).

    Comment by Ken — April 13, 2010 @ 8:29 am


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