Friday, June 1, 2018

MacBook Pro repair


My daughter had a MacBook Pro, a mid 2010 13" model, from when she was in college. It wasn't working, a couple of keys were broken and she handed it to me for disposal. I did a bit of research and found that I could buy a replacement keyboard mechanism for under $17 including shipping, if I could get it working.

I forced a reset of the management controller and it came up. Based on that, I ordered the keyboard and waited for it to arrive yesterday. I researched the process of swapping the keyboard and discovered that it requires removing essentially every part of the body of the laptop before you can get to the keyboard. Yikes!

I set the laptop up on my workbench, with the teeny phillips, Torx and tri point Y00 screwdrivers that would be needed. Taking plenty of pictures and working slowly, I filled a large egg carton, cell by cell corresponding to each step where screws are removed, and the other parts placed in order.

The keyboard itself was screwed to the case with 54 Phillips 00 or 000 screws (very tiny screws). I removed them all and put the replacement keyboard into the case. Tweezers and screwdriver in hand, I placed and tightened all 54 screws. Next I had to replace the backlight for the keyboard.

Layer by layer I put the laptop back together, sliding ribbon cables into their connectors and plugging in a myriad of other connectors until everything was together. While opening the laptop I realized that one of the two memory boards was loose, not properly seated in the machine. Having 2MB rather than 4 would certainly contribute to the slowness my daughter had experienced.

The laptop came right up, performs well (for a 4GB mid 2010 era machine) and every key works properly now. However, my keyboard backlight isn't working. When I next open the laptop I will reseat the tiny ribbon cable, as that may be the problem, but even without backlit keys it is a perfectly usable system.

I will now look into buying larger DIMMs to increase the memory to its max of 8GB (two at 4GB), plus perhaps a larger internal disk or SSD. First I need to work with it a while to decide if it is fast enough to be worth the upgrade. Meanwhile, there are some old files my daughter wants to retrieve before I do a clean install onto the machine.


  1. Were you using the iFixit guides? I've used iFixit several times, most recently to replace a battery in a Kindle Fire.

    I note that the "keyboard" unit in that guide page is "in progress". But the RAM and drive replacement guides are there.

    Also here is the Other World page for SSDs for that model: also has SSDs and RAM for it.

    1. Hi David

      Yes, it was the Ifixit guide and does have some flaws, but I was able to complete the job using that guide and some basic sense where necessary.

      Thanks for the pointers to upgrades - will definitely make use of them if I decide to use this laptop.

  2. Replies
    1. Remember I started on systems with just thousands of words of memory, so MB already seems big. You are correct, of course, GB not MB.

  3. Screw dust is what I've heard it called and yes, I've been there... several times I've repaired several MacBooks.