DIY: Replace your intel mac mini’s hard disk drive

Although there are lots of tutorials and guides out there in the internets which try to guide you through the process, I found most of them are outdated (their contents applying only for PowerPC minis only, whose layout is different from intel minis) or confusing (dark pictures, etc). So after I managed to replace my mini’s hard disk yesterday, and not breaking anything (in fact, I’m writing with it now!) I feel with authority enough for writing a how-to.

If you’re willing to replace your mini’s hard disk, I recommend you read this completely first so that you get an idea of what is needed and then decide if you’re adventurous enough for doing so. Although I would say, it wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting.

Tools you will need

Scratching knife, putty knife or however you call it.

You’ll find them in your favourite real hardware store, in the painting area. If you don’t look over 18 years they will ask you for an ID, just in case you’re trying to commit crime with it or something (!!!).

Scratching knife

Philips screwdrivers

I just needed these two sizes. There’s no need for any other exotic format. This is how philips screwdrivers look; they are just the usual plus sign-shaped screwdrivers (+):

Philips screwdrivers

An external hard drive for backing up your data

I have read of people using their ipods in disk mode, but mine is just too small for holding even my songs (it’s a 4gb ipod mini) so I used an external USB disk with plenty of space.

A new hard drive

You’ll need a Serial ATA 2.5″ 5400rpm drive. Normal ATA drives won’t work, basically because the connectors are absolutely incompatible. I chose a 160 GB disk.

Before opening the case

We need to duplicate the current contents in the hard disk, so that we can restore all into the new disk later. I used SuperDuper! because I heard it was faster, but I think you can also use MacOSX’s Disk Utility. (I haven’t tried the latter for duplicating). Some people have reported success stories using Carbon Copy Cloner, which I believe works better for Leopard based systems. I leave it up to your judgement.

The ideal would be to have some external enclosure into which you could place your new SATA drive temporarily, duplicate everything into it and then you wouldn’t need to reinstall anything once it is in place of the old hard disk. In reality I hadn’t a SATA enclosure so I just backed everything up to that external hard disk. It takes a while, like 2 hours, to back up the whole disk (it was a 60GB disk). So you could play Metroid 3 in your wii meanwhile.

Apart from that I also copied my stuff (i.e. non System folders or Applications, just my data) to a different computer just to be safe 🙂

Opening the case

Now comes the dirty stuff! This may hurt, mainly your psyche, since it looks like you’re going to break your little precious mini. But if you’re careful nothing wrong should happen.

Common sense advice: disconnect everything. Pretty obvious but there’s always crazy people around there.

There’s nothing you can do on the top side…

Mac mini top

But maybe you could do something in the bottom…

Mac mini bottom

Pick up your scratching knife and even if it hurts your heart (it hurt mine) begin inserting it between the case and the white plastic area, and use it then for kindly inviting the plastic area to go out by levering it. This is what I mean:

It took me a bit of trying but if you place the knife in the right spots it will go out in just a minute. I guess if I did it everyday it could be out in 30 seconds. And that’s the most difficult part of this process 🙂

So here it is:

Mac mini without its case

Unlike normal computers, here it’s very difficult to spot components at first sight. Everything is so tightly packed that I didn’t touch anything until I examined it carefully. And while you’re on it, touch the metallic inside of the case so that you discharge all possible static electricity you could be carrying around. I have never heard of anything broken because of this but I do it just in case.

Unscrewing the right screws

Where's the mac mini's hard disk?

Here’s where most of the tutorials fail. I was looking at three different tutorials in my powerbook but at the end I was so confused as to which screws did they refer to that I just decided to ignore them and began unscrewing things until I could reach the hard disk. It is underneath the dvd drive, and it is enclosed in that black chassis you can see. So we need to be able to loose the black chassis and then we’ll be able to access the hard disk from the bottom.

Main screws

There are four screws we need to remove. There’s one on each corner of the base, roughly saying (see pic). They are black and the one on front right is bigger:

Screw 1 is easy to get out.

Screw 2 was a little bit stuck on my case. I had to unscrew it very slowly or the screwdriver began to slip and didn’t do any useful movement. It can be possible that the antenna (the Bluetooth one) is a little bit closer than it should be, but as it has a spring it is somehow flexible so don’t worry too much if you touch it while unscrewing that one.

Screw 3 is easy as well, although quite deep (it’s also the largest one).

Screw 4 is relatively tricky. It is underneath that antenna (which is the Airport antenna, by the way) and it seems to be impossible to unscrew it without breaking the antenna! But the antenna can be removed by pressing the two tabs below it at the same time and it will pop out and leave way for you to unscrew the last one:

Michael Mustun kindly sent me the following five pictures in order to make even clearer which screws you need to remove. Danke, Michael! 🙂

Mac mini screws

Mac mini screws

Mac mini screws

Mac mini screws

Mac mini screws

Battery wire

Wire battery

You need to disconnect a little jumper next to the battery before continuing. It is on the front side, right to the big button battery. If your thumb’s fingernail is long enough you can use it for quickly and harmlessly disconnecting that little jumper. Just pull up with the nail and it will disconnect, without having to grab it from the wires:

Inside the mini (at last!)

Once you’ve completed those steps it’s a question of pulling apart the chassis from the base and carefully turn it so that you can see the inside. Be careful with the antenna you removed from its base while unscrewing the screw below it, it may get in the way (and you don’t want to break it!).

Inside the mini

Here it is. If you want to upgrade your RAM it is now the right moment. Or the processor. I didn’t want to do either so I just went for continuing with the hard disk stuff which is here:

Inside the mini - hard disk

Removing the hard disk

The disk is attached to the chassis with four screws. These are silvered and a little bit fatter than the ones we unscrewed. There are two screws on top of the disk and two more on the chassis side. They are easy to spot – no hidden secrets here.

Hard disk screws

Once the screws are removed you need to pull backwards the disk to disconnect it from the chassis.

Now put there your new big hard disk. It may take a bit to connect it to the chassis but just be patient and you’ll get it. No brute force required…!

Putting things back where they were

Once the new hard disk is in place the rest is way quicker. It just consists in undoing what you did, but just for the sake of completion:

Put the hard disk screws back

Hard disk screws

Carefully flip the chassis again and make sure the connection to the motherboard is fully done

It just needs a bit of pushing and you’ll feel how it’s connected. In any case there’s not any other way of assembling this together and being able to close the case again, so you’ll notice anyway 🙂

Put the chassis screws back

Put the Bluetooth antenna back in its tabs

Connect the little battery wire we disconnected before

You could use your fingernail again for pushing it down and making sure it connects.

Testing it before closing the case

What I did for being safe – since it had the case opened and I didn’t want to risk electrocution – was to disconnect the power adapter. Then I connected the screen, keyboard, mouse and power wires, the external USB disk with the clone of the old disk, and finally connected the power adapter to the mains again. Without touching any component from inside, I switched the computer on.

Booting from USB

Because I had done a full clone of the hard disk, the computer could boot from the USB disk. Once it’s booted, everything looks as if it was your normal disk: screen settings, applications, data – only it’s not!

We need to restore the data from the external into the internal disk, but the internal is not showing because it hasn’t been formatted. So go to the usual Applications – Utilities – Disk Utility and make sure the new internal disk is on the list of devices on left:

New device

See how there’s a Samsung disk with no partition (partitions are nested in the devices). I selected the new disk, clicked on the Erase tab and said I wanted a new partition, Macintosh Journaled type. Because it was way bigger than the old Macintosh HD partition, I called it MegaHD.

Then I selected MegaHD in the list of partitions and clicked on the Restore tab, dragged the external disk partition (externito) to the Source field and the MegaHD partition to the Destination field. And clicked Restore!

Restoring with disk utility

That will take quite a bit of time since it needs to read everything from the USB disk. You can have a walk or something while it completes. It took almost two hours here.

Once it’s done, shut down the computer, disconnect the USB disk and try to boot up as normal (only with the case still open). It is normal for a folder with a question mark to appear the first time, it disappears after it finds the boot volume. Test your system, make sure everything keeps working, etc…

As it worked for me, I shut it down, put the case back and congratulated myself 🙂

Now, as requested by a happy reader in the comments (hey cowboy!), I have added a paypal donation button. So if this tutorial was helpful and you want to say thanks the donation way, feel free to do so:

You can also FLATTR this tutorial if you’ve got a flattr account 🙂

Or if you’ve got an Android phone, you might want to buy one of my apps in return.

217 Replies to “DIY: Replace your intel mac mini’s hard disk drive”

  1. Hi! Glad you like it!

    As for the videos, you need flash for watching them. Or it might have been Google video’s fault… in any case they aren’t hosted here so I can’t tell you anything else without more details…

  2. Wow, that is a very useful blog post presented perfectly.

    The Mac Mini’s antennas seem poorly designed. One should be able to get to the hard drive without having to move them around. Perhaps they were an afterthought.

    I would personally consider an anti-static wrist-strap but otherwise you were extremely surgical, earthing yourself against the case of an earthed and plugged in electrical device should have done the job, as long you don’t touch your hair too much (I’m not sure the Mac Mini is earthed though, don’t they have laptop style adapters?).

    The time I saw someone remove the top from his (PowerPC) Mac Mini he just stabbed the putty knife in and yanked it out with one action. You very carefully pulled, almost caressed, it out with your putty knife. Good job.

    BTW, the Stanley yellow and black tools are even more fashionable than Apple hardware!

  3. Hey!

    About the antennas… honestly it’s the first time I see one of them… I actually thought they looked more like radio antennas. I think they are that way because there’s not more space in there.

    I can’t think of any way of squeezing something larger in the case, and it probably has something to do with the quality of reception. Don’t know if it’s only psychological but an old PCMCIA wireless card that I used some years ago (with a PC) was able to reach networks further away than my powerbook could. I have the feeling the minis work even worse in that sense, but in my environment that’s relatively not a very serious problem.

    That guy removing the case with just one action is ace! It took me like 2 minutes of manipulation and kind of ‘loosening’ the structure before I could actually do anything really effective. I also left some little scratches here and there but nothing harmful.

    The Stanley tool is ace! I was so tempted of buying more stuff in the shop but I couldn’t find a use for it (yet). The colours remind me to bees somehow.

  4. Actually the putty knife action seemed somehwat dangerous to me, I opened it by putting a putty knife left and right and giving both a gentle push at the same time, if done correctly the internals of the mini should pop out.
    The only putty knife method seems somewhat dangerous to me, the risk of breaking the plastics which hold everything together seem to be way higher than with the two putty knifes method.

  5. An excellent presentation! One suggestion: prepare the new drive first, by cloning the internal HDD onto the new drive before starting the disassembly. This can be done using SuperDuper or similar – it’s a clone, not a backup, and results in a bootable drive (you can restart the computer and boot off the external drive to be sure it went OK, again before taking anything apart). I got a 2.5″ SATA – to – USB2 adapter from OWC ( which allows you full access to the new drive. This way, once the new drive is installed, it’s all ready to go with no extra data steps.
    Thanks for such a nice job!

  6. Jeff, that’s exactly what I said in ‘Before opening the case’. You just began with the pictures and ignored everything before them!!

  7. Fantastic and very timely. I just bought 2 new MacMini (el cheapo) but need to upgrade to 2GB ram and 250GB SATA drive. Even though I had upgraded many MacMini G4s and older CoreDual Intel Mac Mini’s, this new model had me stumped. I almost broke the spring-loaded antenna and decided to google one more time. That was when I came across your superbly done tutorial. The inclusion of the short video clips shows your attention to detail and how much you care for your fellow Mac enthusiasts. It is precisely people like you that make me proud to be part of the Mac community. Thank you for all those who will come behind me. Apple had to do what they do to make the form factor work. Your tutorial helps users to expand the MacMini to its full potential. There is no comparison to even Apple’s maintenance manual. All Apple techs should be required to study your tutorial.

    With great awe and greater gratitude,

    Charles Ying from Kailua Hawaii

    P.S. My fingernails did not do the trick. A pair of needlenose pliers work great. I also used the needlenose pliers to help me when repositioning the 4 screws. Also, to line up the SATA connectors, it helps to swing the drive part of the chassis so the SATA drive is vertical to align the SATA connectors to their sockets.

  8. Another comment:

    Besides making sure to Partition with GUID to enable booting on Intel Mac’s, people using Leopard today should switch from SuperDuper! 2.1.4 to the free Carbon Copy Cloner (download the latest)

    SuperDuper goes through the motions but the resulting clone will not boot up Leopard. CCC which has not worked in Tiger, skips a generation and leapfrogged SuperDuper to regain the title of best OS X Cloning software. You can choose which folders to NOT restore. Which is a nice touch.


  9. Ola, Soledad

    I installed Leopard on my Intel Mini and didn’t turn off FileVault before installation.
    I am locked out of my computer, and after trying to reboot in Target mode, or holding
    down “C” or even Command-S with no success, I finally decided to remove the HD
    and install a 100GB 7200rpm Hitachi. Much to my surprise, the computer still doesn’t
    boot; all I get is the folder with the question mark!
    I am a complete rookie when it comes to software, so if anybody has an idea, I would
    greatly appreciate hearing it.

    thanks for the tutorial


  10. Soledad

    The computer is totally unresponsive. I had the dvd in the drive and it did not boot or eject.
    I started it holding C, holding Option, tried to start it in Target mode and nothing worked.
    I remove the PRAM battery to try and get everything to reset, but still nothing! 🙁
    I took the Mini apart once more and will try and get a friend with an Intel Mac to load the system
    to my Hitachi HD and then install it again on the Mini.
    I managed to put the Mini’s original drive in an enclosure and retrieved pretty much
    everything I wanted, so at least I got my applications back and a lot of pics that I had
    not backed up to an external HD.



  11. That’s quite odd! But it may happen, yes, because when I did this I was using Tiger, not Leopard yet.

    Well, good luck with it! I hope you can sort it out 🙂

  12. Thanks for the excellent tutorial. I haven’t done it yet, but will refer to this when I do. Very well done, descriptive, and easy to follow.

    Thanks again!

  13. Hi,

    I want to upgrade my mini to 2G of RAM and i don’t know what kind of RAM i need.. can you help me?

    Thanks a lot.

  14. I am not sure about the type of ram your mini has, but you could go to the ‘About this mac’ option and find out the specs of your mini’s ram modules. Alternatively Crucial has some kind of guide which helps you determine which ram modules can be installed in your computer, I used that when upgrading my powerbook and worked perfectly.

  15. Most excellent! Thank you for a complete post with great photos.

    If putting a new / larger hard drive into the mini, any reason why one wouldn’t just install the OS from disk? (Leopard 10.5 in my instance).
    Thanks for any clarification.

  16. Well, I didn’t install it from the DVD because I wanted to import all my data and installed applications.

    If it had been an installation from scratch I would have just gone for the DVD install, of course!

  17. Thanks. Nice pictures and recommendations. Not all are EXACTLY alike, but this was an excellent resource. It would ahve been nice to know the actual size of the screwdrivers, the picture doesn’t help much to slect the proper size.

    I had an internal HD that was shwing signs of imminent failure: Long boots, especially after system updates, spinning beach ball almost every click, inability to specific files while copying… etc. I purchased a new external (using 2 250Gb partitions) and a new internal drive (250Gb). Installed a new system (10.4.5 -> 11) on the first partition of the external as well as various troubleshooting & repair utilities. I struggled with the file backup until I got the new CCC – the file selection is a MUST when you are dealing with potentially corrupted files. At certain times I was copying about 1Gb/hr, sometimes MUCH slower.

    I am now checking the sectors of the new internal drive before installing the OS and files. I still haven’t decided whether I’ll copy the back-up partition directly and then archive/install a new OS (still sticking with 10.4) or do an erase & install (and select the option to transfer user files during the install).

  18. Great job!!!

    Im wondering why you have to make a copy of the hard drive? Cant you just use the reinstall os DVD on the new Hard Drive?

  19. Because I wanted to keep all my installed programs and data and all that – and because it’s good to make a backup first 😉

    You can use the OS DVD of course!

  20. I’ve installed a new Western Digital Scorpio 250gb in my Mac Mini Intel 1.66. I’m trying to load Leopard on it from the install DVD. Leopard does not see the WD as a destination to install. This is the second WD I’ve installed, so it is not a defective drive. What do I do? Thanks in advance for your help.

  21. Have you tried formatting the disk first? I think that you should get an option on the top menu for “Utilities” before selecting the destination drive, from here it can launch the Disk Utility, then you format the new disk and once you finish, the installation program will be able to find the formatted volume.

    Hope that helps!

  22. Thanks for your response. When I boot from the Leopard installation DVD, I don’t get any menu at all. It just launches into the installation routine and I arrive at the drive destination selection with the new Western Digital not being found. Is there any way to access disk utilities from the Leopard DVD so that I could format the newly installed drive?

  23. that’s odd… have you tried booting up while pressing the ‘C’ key? (C for cdrom… or dvd… you get what I mean)

    I got the disk utilities option when I booted up with the C key held meanwhile. Hope it works!

  24. Thanks a lot for this tutorial, i am going to install a wd scorpio 320gb next week, so this is absolutely nessesary, it certainly seems wise to carbon copy the disk first as i also was just going to use the install dvd – but otherwise i noted that is is possible to boot via firewire from another mac or from a usb harddisk and there access disk utilities to format the new drive:)

  25. I used the “c” key to boot from the install dvd of leopard, but got no menu or disk utilities option. Even when I boot without the “c” key it defaults to the install dvd , I assume, since no os is on the new internal hard drive. I’ve given up on the WD Scorpio 250 and have re-installed the original internal hard drive. A Hitachi hard drive is being delivered today. Hopefully it will be seen by the Mini so that it will be able to be formatted. Thanks for the information. Your tutorial is first rate.

  26. Sorry to read that :-/

    If I have to reformat a mac again I’ll take a picture of something of the option so that I can guide people to it more easily next time.

    Would you please let me know if the Hitachi disk works? Maybe WD disks aren’t compatible (although that would be strange). I think the original one was Hitachi so maybe it’s a safe bet – I hope it works 🙂

    Good luck again!

  27. I received the Hitachi 160gb and also an usb external enclosure. I used Carbon Copy Clone and transferred the contents of the original internal hard drive to the Hitachi. I didn’t try to format the Hitachi by installing it in the Mini and booting from the Leopard install dvd, so I don’t know if it would have been recognized or not. After this succeeded I put the Western Digital 250 in the enclosure, where it was recognized via the usb port, and cloned the original hard drive to it as well and then installed it into the Mac Mini and it worked fine. I’m now assuming that an unformatted hard drive will not show up if it is installed in the Mini. The disk utility menu will not show up when booting from the Leopard dvd unless the drive is already formatted. I now have the Hitachi, which can be used for backups. Have you ever seen an unformatted hard drive installed in a Mac recognized by the os install dvd when booted from that dvd? Thanks for you help.

  28. Interesting to read that. The closest thing I did was putting a disk which was a carbon-cloned copy of my intel mini hard disk, into a powerpc mac. It produced a big kernel panic screen when booting up but it did show the Disk Utilities option when booting from the Leopard dvd, so that’s how I managed to format it again (I had been messing with ubuntu so it had several partitions and I wanted to restore it to just one Journaled partition).

  29. I’m in the middle of this process and I’m panicking a little because the WiFi antenna seems to have become completely separated from the chassis and I’m not sure where to reconnect it. A black insulated wire runs from the antenna board to a now-detached) copper blob. I don’t whether this broke off the chassis or just became disconnected.

    Can this be reconnected somewhere without soldering, and if so, where should it go?


  30. I am not sure … in theory you just need to press the tabs and the antenna ‘pops out’… I don’t know if you did something different.

  31. The cable had become disconnected from a small tab next to the Airport card on the motherboard; mine apparently doesn’t attach as securely as most.

    I’ve managed to reconnect it (for now) but now I have another problem: the copper-colored ribbon cable (“Foxconn”) connecting the bottom to the top has now become disconnected.

    My reading suggests that this is an audio cable and that it “should” be straightforward to reattach, but though I can see where it (probably) needs to go, I can’t see how it’s supposed to be connected.

    I don’t suppose you ever removed and reattached this cable yourself? At least one other take-apart description suggested disconnecting it routinely, to make it easier to deal with top and bottom, but no one else has provided anything as helpful as your video clips showing how things come apart and go back together.


  32. Sorry – I hadn’t seen your message in the moderation queue! You’re right in your supposition, I didn’t disconnect that cable. And I hope at this time you managed to connect it again 🙂

    If it is the usual audio jumper ended cable it shouldn’t be complicated to plug in again, although if it was – how come it got disconnected that easily!? You mini seems to be very loose!

    Anyway good luck!

  33. I did manage to reconnect it after staring for a while at a few online photos, and it’s now running fine with the new 320 GB SATA drive.

    I wish I had properly backed up the data on the original 120 GB drive that failed, but…that’s my own fault.

    Thanks for your help.

  34. Wow. Muchas gracias Soledad!
    It took me 10 minutes… and the memory was upgraded 😛
    A fast HDD is on its way… Let’s pimp the baby.

  35. Nice guide. Thanks.
    I replaced the HDD in my intel mini today with a 320gb drive. Pretty straightforward. For those who want to know, I was able to boot from the DVD, format the new disk and install Leopard from scratch. Easy.

  36. A very useful guide. I upgraded my Intel Mini with a new 200GB 7200rpm HD. Used SuperDuper to clone my existing HD first. It’s the best backup program for Mac. Very easy to use.

    Thank you!

  37. I’ve got a problem same as Lucio and Gelid when I put a new Hitachi 250GB SATA into my mac mini it doesn’t work for me.
    only appear is Question Mark folder,but before that I’ve choose ERASE in the format time on DVD Leopard installation. Did I wrong?
    So how I’ve to do next? Pls help me.
    Anyway thank you for yuur kind and sorry about my english. (I’m Thai guy) 🙂

  38. Million thanks for an excellent guide !!
    I installed new WD 5400rpm 320GB drive and new 2GB memory modules in total of 30 min. Without your guide it would had taken days…

  39. Thank you very much for the excellent guide!! I replaced the original 60GB with a WD scorpio 320. What I don’t understand is people’s problems with backing up their old HD’s. If you take out the old HD and leave it as it was, then what is the problem? If you put your old HD in an external case and plug it into your Mac Mini (USB) you can boot from it – so essentially nothing changed; only that your old internal HD is now external, but you still have your programs, data etc like before. So if you have an external case, there is no problem whatsoever; you can transfer your data before or after. (I bought a WD portable and just switched the Mac Mini HD with the WD 320 HD.)

    Thanks again Sole!

  40. Hey it’s great to read all those success stories 🙂
    I must admit I don’t know either what’s going wrong with most of the people who report errors. It was totally smooth for me; maybe it depends on certain configurations with certain disks and versions of OS X.

  41. HI, thanks for the guide. Managed to replace my hard drive in minutes. I have a problem though. I copied my original 120gb HD to my 250GB HD before removing it via usb. So theoretically all the info is on the 250gb HD. After replacing the HD I rebooted ok. BUT, in system preferences, I can’t select it as the startup disk. Any ideas?

  42. Great article, the images and videos were extremely useful.

    I’m about to upgrade my HDD and was wondering if anyone had noticed any increase in noise levels from non-standard drives? I use my Mac Mini as a home entertainment system and at the moment it’s practically silent, which is how I’d like to keep it!

  43. @Mr Kirk – that’s odd! When I booted for the first time it allowed me to choose the startup disk. Maybe having a look at disk utilities or something? (I haven’t tried)

    @Kit – No problem at all! It’s as silent as before. You can’t notice when it’s on 🙂

  44. Sole, thank you SO much for this informative guide. I really can’t thank you enough. I also had trouble with the wireless antenna cable becoming disconnected, but I just unhooked the antenna (from the tabs) and then plugged the cable to the card, then laid it over the back and let it sit “loose” while I put the rest of the machine together. Then it was easier to maneuver the tiny cable around the fan blower and mount the antenna back on the tabs where it belongs. Now I have a 250GB intel mini! I just KNEW the apple store guy was covering his own butt when he said the drive wasn’t user-serviceable… Without this guide I might have never done this, or at least I would have been pretty frustrated in the process!

  45. Nice one!

    A few months back I did a memory upgrade on the macmini.
    Worst moments:
    1) The jumper (“pull with your fingernails”) is not only a jumper,
    but a socket and a connector (jumper) plugged into it.
    If you (because of bad light?) think the socket is part of the jumper you
    might “lever” the whole socket from the “motherboard”.
    2) The cables connecting the antennas to the “motherboard” can get disconnected and
    you have to surf the web to find pictures showing which cables has to go where.
    3) Plugging the big (peripherial) block back into the “motherboard” was difficult, especially
    if some cables get in your way (“How did it look before?”)

  46. An excellent tutorial, I replaced my HD today with no serious problems. Thanks very much!

    A couple of suggestions:

    As the prior poster says, the “jumper” near the battery isn’t really a jumper, it’s a plug in a socket. This was clear to me but I can see where some might find it confusing. I used very small needle-nosed pliers to take it out and push it back in.

    When flipping the DVD/HD/etc. internal chunk over after disconnecting it from the motherboard, it was still connected to the motherboard by a ribbon cable whose ends were not obvious. Laying the two pieces side by side on the table would have stretched the cable more than my comfort level would allow (since I couldn’t see the ends to make sure they remained seated.) Instead, I rested one end of the disconnected chunk on the table and the other end on the case, so it was tilted, but quite stable, and there was no tension on the ribbon cable.

    Jacking the hard drive into the connector turned out to be a problem because the hard drive was thinner than the space — so the HD sat lower in the chassis, i.e. connectors in the machine were higher than the card edge on the HD. This turned out to be easily solved by re-flipping the whole internal chunk right side up so the HD was suspended underneath; then it slid easily into place. Re-flipping it upside down again did not dislodge it so I was able to screw it into position.

    Thanks again! 60GB just wasn’t cutting it. 😀

  47. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I just upgraded to 2GB RAM and a 250GB Harddrive…My husband is so impressed that I was able to do it without so much as a “Honey, Help me”……My computer is revving and happily enjoying Leopard and the New Adobe Creative Suite Master Edition without so much as a squeak…….Flawless direction, Thank you again!

  48. Thanks for the how-to. I upgraded my drive to a 320G and it took me about 15 minutes doing the actual hardware swop. Good work and much appreciated.

  49. Thanks for this guide – I changed my mini a 320GB HDD without problems, took about 30 minutes.

  50. Excellent guide! Swapped out the hard drive for a Seagate 160GB drive and worked great.

    A couple of things…

    It helps to have a few philips screwdrivers of different sizes as the hard disk screws are bigger than the chassis screws.

    A torch is handy for seeing those black chassis screws as they can be tricky to spot.

    Use a table knife to make the gap in the plastic base slighly larger before using the putty knife – should scratch the case less.

    When installing an unformatted disk, the question mark folder will flash for a while before it boots up of the OSX install disk. When you reach the welcome screen at the start use the disk utility from the menu at the top of the screen to erase the new hard drive.

    Top marks for a very good guide!

  51. Soledad,

    Thank you so much for a well documented, easy to understand tutorial — nice use of video for the weird stuff.

    A few items for others who might give this a shot:

    – your number of screws may vary
    – pay attention to how the antenna wires are taped/routed (don’t pinch!)
    – consider using compressed air to clean out the unit while it is open
    – boot using Tiger/Leopard disk,
    then use Disk Utility to Erase [format] new HDD
    – OS X Leopard users: consider Time Machine to restore to the new HDD

    Thanks for making this sound so easy Soledad — with your guidance it was.

  52. Thanks for the guide. Excellent help.
    I ofcourse removed the dvd-drive before getting to your guide 🙁

    When putting the stuff back I had very little problems.
    Especially could not tighten screw nr. 3.
    I found that it was the longer one and then it fit. 😉

    I now enjoy the 500Gb Harddisk instead of the mere 60.

  53. I just used this to help me install a 500 GB Western Digital internal drive in my mac mini. I followed the directions exactly and it works perfectly. Just a note-I accidentally disconnected my WIFI antenna and had a little trouble reconnecting it. Be careful when you flip the drive over or you too may disconnect it. Excellent tutorial!!!!! 11/4/08

  54. Wooh! All those reports of people installing 500Gb disks make me feel jealous with my little 160Gb 🙂

    But it’s good to know which disks do work well with Mac minis, thanks for the information.

  55. By far the best technical instructions for this procedure out there. Really well done – thanks.

  56. An exellent guide! After cloning (using Carbon Copy Cloner) I had the new disk fitted in less than 30 minutes thanks to you! However, I had the below issue which I don’t think have been noted on this page before and caused me a big problem:

    If you have a early 2006 mini (or before) and are using it with a new-style Aluminium Keyboard, holding down the keys (any of them) during start-up doesn’t make any difference. Apparently this is even the case if you have installed all of the keyboard firmware updates (as I had). You can’t even install from your OS DVD. Here is an Apple support thread about the problem:

    I no longer have my original keyboard, but am borrowing one from a friend on the way home tonight – but that’s hardly a permanent solution! I will try the suggestion on the above link that holding down “menu” on the IR remote while you boot-up which apparently alows you to select drives.

    I’ll report back an let you know if this works!

  57. Thanks for pointing that out, Jeff. Effectively, when I made the guide I had a “normal” mac keyboard, as you can see at some videos and pictures. Maybe if I was to repeat it I should have to replace my current alu keyboard with the old one.

    I hope your information is helpful to anyone which has this problem, thanks again 😀

  58. The best! Thanks for a very complete tutorial.

    Suggest adding small section about that AirPort antenna cable coming unplugged (more than 1 of us had this happen). Also, if the battery plug is not plugged in when reassembled, the fans run full speed when the Mini is turned on. (Don’t ask how I know this…)

    Have you thought about being a technical writer? You have all the skills…


  59. Great site,replaced my HDD with a 320GB WD scorpion, cloned from my external back up, perfect first time. I decide to install bootcamp everything started fine, but . . . it now can not find the OS, I’ve tried rebooting of the disk but I just get the flashing question mark, unable to find OS. can some one Please HELP

  60. Sorry, can’t really help since I didn’t install bootcamp. Maybe someone else can help, cross your fingers 😉

  61. I replaced the HD in my mini mac today, and without this page I’d have been very lost!

    Many thanks for this info.

  62. Well my only question is this…I’ve been searching all the tutorials and some ppl have said that 7200rpm drives are a no-no but I already purchased a WD Scorpio 320GB 7200rpm drive to replace my Intel Mac Mini 80GB drive for my carputer and I would like to know if the faster speed is going to damage anything internally with the increase in heat generation…has anyone had problems basically? Basically this computer is being ran as an Entertainment solution in my car utilizing primarily Front Row and iTunes, no real heavy processing will be done here which is why I may not be upgrading the RAM unless its a DDR2 667Mhz 5300 DIMM, I have 2 1GB DIMMS not being used. A return is also kinda not feasible right now for the Scorpio but I can if I really have to. Also this tutorial is by far the best I’ve seen and I cannot wait to change out my drive. Thanks in advance

  63. I also forgot to mention one other thing that I DO have an External 2.5 SATA USB2 Enclosure if that helps with anything I mentioned before.

  64. From what you say, I don’t think it should get too hot in there, if you’re only using the hard disk for reading audio files. It will probably be stopped most of the time since it will load the whole song in just one go and then keep it cached.

    But I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t really give any advice about that, sorry!

  65. Wonderful tutorial, very useful for dummies like me. Thanks Sole!
    My Macmini has now a 400Gb Disk (they were short of 500 at the store…) and 3GB of RAM.
    One little warning I would add (even though I’m probably the only one who had that incident) is to be very careful with your fingers when you close the case, as it may pop in suddenly. I’m typing this comment with one of my finger in a band-aid, and a small part of it left in the macmini…

  66. Well just completed the upgrade and everything works as planned…I now have a WD Scorpio 320GB 7200rpm HDD and 2GB of DDR2 667Mhz 5300 RAM and couldn’t have been possible without you Soledad…Thank you for the great tutorial and answering my questions.

  67. I followed this guide today to put a 250gb internal disk into my Intel mini (original disk was damaged).
    I was previously booting off an external FW drive, so was able to use Disk Utility to restore from that to the new internal.
    All OK.
    Instructions were very clear and one of the comments about reconnecting the wifi arial turned out useful 🙂

    Thanks very much and happy new year.

  68. Wow! I’m really looking forward upgrading my mac! I’m planning to buy a 500 gb western digital hard disk and change it with the 80 gb standard. I will leave another reply when it’s done!

    Tanx in advance!

  69. Yay! Hope it goes perfectly for you and you come back here ready to tell us another success story 🙂

  70. Hey!
    Great guide. Can someone tell me what type of connector is in the hard drive? SATA, eSata, PATA, IDE? And what is the power connector on it? Standard molex I hope! Email me at if you have the answer.

  71. Hello, I do not see any mention of the foam air deflector that was on the original hard drive. Did you not install it on the replacement hd?

  72. You’re right. I didn’t install it on the replacement hd. I haven’t seen any issue related to that, so after some months of “test driving” it, I concluded it was safe without it. The computer is in a quiet environment, so I guess it shouldn’t be too affected by the absence of the foam.

  73. What’s up!

    Remember I tolled you I was planning to upgrade my mac mini? Eventually I chose to buy the little disk (Brand: Lacie) 320 gb. Yes it’s an external HD but I got it out the case. Sounds easy, but with this HD it aint. I chose an external because I wanted to reuse my old Hard Disk and so I was able to fit the old one in the case. I will keep you updated and soon I’ll place my story on the page with pics so everyone can see how.


  74. Ahh that’s interesting. When I bought the external enclosure, it was just a plain almost unbranded one so it was very easy to disassemble and replace the disk at will. Let us know how does it go 🙂

  75. Magnificent tutorial, thanks a lot!

    This was the first Mac-related hardware project I did and it worked like a charm, thanks to you. The photos were excellent and the videos cleared even more.

    Keep up the good work!

  76. Great tutorial with even greater videos!

    Same here than Jussi; first Mac-mod project went like a charm.

    Thank you!

  77. I am still trying to figure out what Mini I want. The 1.83 is more price friendly right now, but it’s hard to pass up on a 2.0. If you have any input in this area, it will be appreciated. Whichever one I get, a HD upgrade will probably follow the purchase shortly. Very nicely done tutorial, by the way!

  78. To be honest… I don’t think you can even notice that difference. Mac OS X will devour any processor speed you throw at it anyway 😛

    Unless you’re doing some heavy number crunching, you should do fine with the mini which gives you more speed per pound/dollar/euro (whatever your currency is!). What really makes a computer look faster is having more memory and a speedy healthy hard disk. Processor speed isn’t that important nowadays really 🙂

    Hope that helps!

  79. Thanks very much for the guide sole, it’s fantastic.

    Was very wary of opening up my mini, but popped in a 500GB WD drive easily following your instructions. Like others, my first ever hardware mod.

    Thanks again!

  80. I’ve cracked my mini open once and upped the ram.
    Now it’s time for the HD, and your tutorial is tops!
    Your the best Sole!


  81. Used your guide to upgrade my mini to 2G memory and 500 Gb WD Scorpio Blue, it was very helpful!

    Thanks a lot!!

  82. Thanks for the tutorial. With your DIY guide i changed my 80GB with a 160 SSD drive and works fine!
    For the statistics: I used CCC to backup my data.

  83. Anyone got a good image or diagram where exactly does the Airport antenna connect to?
    I’ve managed to unhook mine swapping out HDD’s, and I cannot find where it plugs in at.


  84. Hi, thanks a lot for the very useful tutorial !

    I successfully replaced my 80Go original harddrive by a Seagate Momentus 7200 RPM SATA II – 320 GB.
    I also replaced the two original 512 RAM by two 2GB RAM from Kingston.
    I have now a very powerful 1.83GHz mac mini :))

  85. Many thanks for the very helpful pics and vids – couldn’t have upgraded the mini without ’em! I installed 2 GB of RAM and replaced my 80 GB drive with a 160 GB drive poached from my MacBook Pro (which just got upgraded to 320 GB).

  86. Hi! Thank you! Well done. You have spared me a lot of anger and frustration 🙂 My Mac Mini is back to work now…

  87. Absolutely excellent! I’m reinstalling the OS on the new disk now. Your tutorial was invaluable and really accurate. You do a great job pointing out what NOT to do as well as what to do.

    Great job!

    Couple tips I found: I do agree with those who used two putty knives. I was struggling with one (maybe just being too cautious), but as soon as I grabbed another one, off the whole cover popped.

    Also, I suggest puting a soft cloth or something down to help protect the top of the cover and that beautiful Apple logo while removing the cover.

    In case anyone cares, I upgraded the 60Gb to a 500Gb, and at the same time upgraded from 512Mb of RAM to 2GB. Enough for all my iTunes tunes and movies.

    Can’t wait to see it all in true action.

    Again – couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks!

  88. Thanks for this Sole … I’ve played around inside PC’s before, but this was my first mac hardware mod and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it if I hadn’t had your tutorial sitting open on the macbook next to me!

    I use the mini for an entertainment unit, and with movies available on iTunes now the HDD was getting a bit full! After reading this (and a fair bit of other stuff) I ended up getting a refurbished 2.0Ghz from the apple store to replace my old 1.6 (if you’re smart you’ll use the printer rebate they offer to get a free printer too and sell it on ebay to decrease your upgrade costs … I wasn’t) … also bought a Hitachi Travelstar 320Gb 7200 HDD and 4Gb of Crucial RAM from …

    Using your tutorial, I managed to take both machines apart and upgrade the RAM in both (I put 2Gb in the old machine) and swap out the HDD’s. Like some others on here, I also got the new drive working as an external bootable drive (using a macally external enclosure … also from newegg) before opening up either machine. It was A LOT easier than I’d expected it to be.

    I now have a mini that boots in seconds and plenty of hard drive space for music and movies!

    Only issue I have is that on the old mini the ribbon connector that was keeping the top and bottom together has pulled out of the top part of the machine (looks like it has come away from the small plastic clip somehow … very keen to hear if anybody knows what sort of glue might be safe to use to rejoin the two??) Suggestion is to be really careful with that when you’re upgrading everything!!? I’m just glad it happened in the old machine, and not the new one!!

    @Rildo — yep — you can install 4Gb of RAM in a Core2Duo Mini … from what I have read it will only use 3Gb though. I put all 4 in because 1. apparently matched pairs work better in the intel mini’s (don’t know if that’s true), 2. RAM was cheap, and 3. hopefully one day Apple will upgrade the firmware and all 4Gb will become useable … maybe!? Check out here for more info (

  89. Aussie, it’s great to hear that all worked perfectly. Thanks also for the printer trick and the information regarding if it’s possible to install 4Gb of RAM in the Core2Duo Mini. Maybe one day it’ll be useful for me 🙂

  90. Can you tell me what kind of HDD should I buy? What interface? 2.5″ ATA or SATA or? because the HDD Cable must be the same, right?

  91. Did you dare to read what it says in “what you’ll need”?

    You’ll need a Serial ATA 2.5″ 5400rpm drive. Normal ATA drives won’t work, basically because the connectors are absolutely incompatible.

  92. Wadap?

    I believe I totally forgot telling you the following great news: I believe it was in january when I replaced my HD by a 320 GB Lacie little disk. I got the external HD out of its case and put the original internal 80 GB in the case and then I put the 320 GB HD inside the Macmini. I’m still running my Mac on the same HD and I’m very satisfied. It works great and till now I’ve had the space I needed. I’m really greatfull, thank’s alot for putting this guide online, it’s a great help.

    Keep up the good work!

  93. Perfect guide. The suggestion of Carbon Copy Cloner was also a great one. Thanks a million. 🙂

  94. thanks a ton! by far the easiest DIY thanks to you! yes, you should update the DIY to include the free CCC software so people won’t have to do the extra last step….you should also have a paypal donation button for those wishing to thank you for your time and efforts into this endeavor, myself included!

  95. Excellent tutorial, thank you very much! Mac Mini upgraded uneventfully to 320Gb HD and 4Gb RAM – runs like a beast!

    Ditto what folks are saying about Carbon Copy Cloner. It is a great no-hassle way of duplicating the drive.

  96. @cowboy, @matt: ok, will add the bit about Carbon Copy Cloner, and probably the paypal button. Let’s see those donations flow in 😉

  97. Thanks for the instructions. An excellent tutorial…saved me a load of time.

  98. Great tutorial, very clear and easy to follow.

    Thank you very much, right now I’m using a 320GB 7200RPM disk ^_^

  99. Thanks for the tutorial.

    I just installed 4GB of memory and a G.Skill Falcon SSD drive into my Mini. 😀

    It’s FLYING!!!!!


  100. Wow! I had never thought of installing an SSD Drive into a Mac mini. Although when I changed mine, SSD Drives were pretty much an utopia for desktop computers. How large is it?

  101. Thanks so much for these instructions! Thanks to you, my poor little Mini is back from the dead.

  102. It’s amazing all the detail that you show here, the videos are great. Thanks for helping the rest of us dealing with our mac mini’s, y muchisimas gracias Sole – eres una Tech fantastica!

  103. And thanks from me too! I just put a nice big 320 gig drive in, and doubled the RAM. Everything fine, thanks to your pictures and detailed instructions. The only worry I had was that the airport wire came undone and it took a while to work out where to fix it back. But everything works fine now.

    Gracias à ti !

  104. Hello Sole! I just upgraded my minimac from 80GB HD and 1GB ram to a very nice 320 GB HD and 2Gb ram config. Thanks to your extremely good tutorial, everything went fine. Again, a big thank you!

  105. Hello Sole,

    I need help big time. I followed your instruction one by one, revisited all my step, put back all that I took out. Now everything is working fine, but the fan. The fan is running at full speed. There are two things I need to point out.

    1) There was a wire connected to the original drive. The wire is unattachable on one end, and the end connected to a part of the macmini. As a result of changing the harddisk, the wire is no longer connected.

    2) In the above steps, I have nothing (no wire nor any sort of slot for the wire to sit in) next to the battery which I need to disconnect before opening and seeing the inside.

    I need huge help, and am highly apperciated.

    Thank you thank you thank you 🙂

    1. Hey, what you’re probably missing is that very wire close to the battery. I think that’s what regulates the fan speed. It happened to a friend of mine, but he found the wire was not connected, and as soon as he plugged it again to its jumper, the fan was working properly (i.e. almost unaudible).

      Hope it works 🙂

  106. Now that I re-read. There was something connected to the hard disk but is not connected any more? that’s odd. And the part about not having anything to connect/disconnect close to the battery has led me to wonder whether you’re using a different mac mini model. Anyway: maybe you disconnected something accidentally but didn’t notice.

    What I would suggest is stop looking at the mini for a while, go do something else and then come back and examine everything scrupulously with fresh eyes; you’ll probably find the missing jumper easily. For all that you say seems like a problem with the fan regulation not being connected.

  107. Sole,

    Thanks for the prompt reply.

    Yes I have done the above. I opened the macmini 3 times (!!!) and has a proper look through in everywhere. The problem is that, even if I am missing a jumper, I simply cannot see a loose cable. ALL cables are in the correct placed, just like how they were.

    I can even send you pictures to see that there is no jumpers/available slots there, and to see the inside of the macmini.

    Also I have searched online to see the inside of the MacMini and there seems to be different models of macmini, some which have the battery placed in a slightly different place.

    In regards with the loose wire of the original hdd, it seems like its for the actual harddisk (or some sort of a temperature controller…i am just guessing this one)…

    Also, in the middle of me writting this post, I reinserted the old harddisk in, reinserted the loose hd cable, and put everything back. Even though I have literally connected everything, I can confirm that the fan still goes on.

    I tried to resest the PSU and SMC (or w/e) and no luck.

    I am literally have no options left. If you still want me to send you the pictures or have any ideas please let me know.

    Again, thank you very very much for your time and help. Apperciated 🙂


  108. I really can’t give you any other answer or suggestion, sorry … my mac mini wires were all pretty straightforward and there didn’t seem to be any ‘wasted’ or spare component in there 🙂

  109. Hi Sole,
    this looks awesome. Can I put in 500GB regardless of mac mini model? Some tech head mentioned i needed to be careful i didnt put too much size in, as it may not work? Also read should not increase orginal size by more than 4 times. Your thoughts?

  110. @sven: it seems it’s possible to put a 500Gb disk as this guy said:

    I am unaware of any specific issues that can arise due to installing large hard disks in a mini. I guess the worst that can happen is that either it doesn’t recognise all the available space or that it hasn’t got enough power to ‘move’ the drive, but I think both are very much unfeasible possibilities. The SATA interface is more than able to support 500Gb and more. Not sure about the level of standards that the mini implements. Maybe the best way to find out is to have a go and see if it works. Hard drives aren’t expensive nowadays. And in case of doubt you already know 500Gb are possible.

    @Mo: sorry about not being able to help… would have loved to give you an answer! When did you buy that mini?

  111. @sole and sven: Yes you can put a 500gb hd in, that’s what I did, and it recognized the drive prefectly, as well as its S.M.A.R.T (it was a WD for me 🙂 from overclockers) and I managed to put Windows XP, Windows 7 and OSX on it with no problem. (if only didnt have the fan problem 🙁 🙁 🙁 )

    @sole: I bought it around 2 months ago, and originally went for 120gb (bad choice 🙁 )….I guess its the March 09 model. Apparently they have some updates component in :S

    Thanks however. Mo

  112. hey again Mo!

    I have watched the video. The 2009 edition of mac minis are definitely quite different from the 2007 version.

    Even though, from the symptoms you described (fan running at full speed, all the time) it was obviously a case of a temperature sensor or fan regulator not being properly connected.

    Hope you can fix it and have your mini back and working. However what I would do is just make sure the fan is working properly, before closing the case again. In my mini it was possible; I’m not sure if it’s still possible with the latest edition 🙂

  113. Sole,

    Yes the little wire was the problem. I never knew that I should really take it off the old hdd. However, I have done exactly what the video showed, and have attached the new drive and its all go (fan regulated the second I plugged the wires in!)

    Right now, I am in the process of restoring the image of the old drive and also installing XP and 7 (Media centre gaming).

    Again, THANK YOU. Really appreciated your help.

    Best regards,

    1. Great to see it finally working! See, it’s just a question of patience and looking for info… it’s all there in the internets 😀

  114. Hi,

    I’d like to put a 1TB harddrive in my mac mini. Is that possible? (not the 2 500GB solution though). I found a 2.5″ SATA drive running at 5900RPM. Will that work or does it have to be 5400RPM?


  115. I just know what is written in this page (regarding the mac mini, that is). Since there are not testimonials from people having installed a 1TB disk, I guess the only way of finding out is trying it yourself 🙂

    That said, I don’t think there should be any problem, unless the operating system can’t address that size. I haven’t investigated that possibility.

  116. Hi All,
    I just followed all these instructions, ans upgraded to 2 x 2GB rame modules, and a SATA 5400rpm 500gb 8mb samsung HDD. prior to completely closing i (as suggested) connected the mini and fired it up. It turned on (I know this from front light) but did nothing else, no signal to tv, sounds, anything. I checked and rechecked everything, but still nothing. I then changed back to the original HDD to see, and now the same thing happened to this. Any ideas of what may have happened / i am missing?

  117. done it! 1.83 c2d now equipped with WD 320GB @ 7200 rpm and 3 GB ram!! thanks Sole!

  118. Thanks for this!
    I, too, had the Airport antenna disconnect from the far end. I disconnected a similar connection to see what it plugged into. A copper circle with white in it with a single copper pin in the middle. I found on the motherboard two such connectors, on the same device, and connected to the nearest one (can’t reach the other one).

    Doing a restore now. Probably won’t be the last. Forgot to partition for Ubuntu (I have it on my external and I needed a small partition on the boot drive for grub).

    May as well go cancel the restore now…

  119. no, will wait and resize with disk utility and then try to recover Ubuntu later.

    Also, had a hard time getting the hard drive into the connector. Seemed the connector was higher than its mate on the drive. Helps to turn the whole part over (like you are going to put it back in the shell) and then it lines up better.

  120. Sole, Everything fine, with the installation. However mac mini is not Picking up netwoks.
    Airpor is on but not seeing neither joining network. Any suggestion?

  121. Restart and try again. Leopard makes it to my powerbook too. You might have to restart several times. It’s all very random. Sometimes it helps if you deactivate the WPA encryption in the router, connect and then enable it again.

  122. Great tutorial! I followed all Your steps and everything went quite smooth.. maybe except bootable hdd after cloning 🙂 (should have read more carefuly -> CCC)
    Either way I ended up with 320GB WD Black + 2GB Ram and clean OSX install from dvd. A new life for my 1.83 Mini ;P


  123. Excellent instructions. Worked flawlessly.

    Now a word of CAUTION: I previously had this Mac Mini open to upgrade the RAM. When I replaced the HD today (with a 500 GB Seagate bought at CompUSA for $79), I made the mistake of tugging on the SuperDrive ribbon cable. Turns out the plastic connector thing broke on one side. Maybe that happened last time I opened it. Who knows.

    You do not want to mess with that ribbon cable. It was a pain, and took an extra set of hands, but I was able to rig the broken plastic connector/end so it manages to hold the cable in place. I expect it broke because it is 3+ years old, gets hot in there, and didn’t take much.

    Otherwise, I used Disk Utility for my backup image and everything worked perfectly. Thanks!

  124. Thanks for the helpful post, I’ve performed surgery (as I like to call it) on my Mac mini before and broke the connector the gold ribbon goes to off. Good to know that I could of just flipped the black cage rather than taking it off completely… I’m about to perform another surgery on my Mac mini soon, this time a 500GB HD. 😀

  125. Fantastic instructions. Only thing not obvious was untangling the WiFi antenna lead from the fan cowling as I separated the innards. A 7,200rpm hard disk and 2GB of RAM has breathed new life into my old Mini and equipped it for Snow Leopard. Thanks!

  126. Great instructions. Thanks!

    First I had problem to find the black screws (bad light), but after that all went great.

    Now I have 500 GB WD Scorpio Blue running in the 1st gen Intel mini mac.

  127. Thank you!
    Great instructions!
    In my model (purchased July ’09) there was no jumper next to the battery to disconnect and there was a heat sensor glued to the drive that I had to detach and reattach to the new drive (there was enough residual adhesive on it to reattach it). But these were minor changes. Your instructions led the way!

  128. Thank you very much for sharing! Saved my day..

    Now with 500 GB WD Scorpio Blue and external IOMega MiniMax 2TB working great. 🙂


  129. Hello.

    I just cleaned inside my Mac Mini and I do not know how to fit this one piece back to exactly where it goes, or if the piece is very important.

    It’s a very thin piece of black, bendable plastic, about two inches long and irregularly shaped. It sat inside the Mac Mini near the back panel where the plugs for USB and power are. Looks like it was used to cover or protect something.

    If this rings a bell to anyone and you think you can help,
    I’d sure appreciate your reply.


  130. Just something I noticed, in one pic you are showing that the Airport antenna is the one at the back and numbered 4 in your diagram, but later you show a video clip where you show the same antenna being refitted but you describe i as the Bluetooth antenna. I ask as I am thinking of popping my old mac mini 1.5 open to stick some more ram in and at the same time extend the Bluetooth antenna as its range is terrible.

    1. Sorry Iain, it might well have been a slip. The best way of knowing is just opening your mac mini, or just look at some pictures out there to check and compare, since I think my mini is older than yours and things might have been placed in a different position.

  131. Does anyone know if the new 750Gb or 1Tb scorpio blue drives fit in the mini? the drive claims to be 12.5 mm high instead of 9 mm high. Will this still fit in the mini?

  132. Thanks for clear instructions. I fitted a Samsung SpinPoint M7E HM641JI 640GB (£61 from Ebuyer) in my Mac Mini in place of the pitiful 80GB drive, all worked first time. I used a Plexus USB to IDE & SATA Adapter With Power Adapter (£13.40, Ebuyer again) and Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the old drive to the new one externally before I started. Then when the new drive was in, there was no further work to do with the data, it booted and ran.

    Followed instructions, all went well. I found the four chassis screws were very lightly done up, almost not done up at all, so refitted them only hand tight too. Only two small issues: The new drive slopped downwards and was hard to pick up so it would fit into SATA connectors. I temporarily installed a screw on the top of it and so was able to get hold of the drive and so refit it. The space behind the drive it was slopping into, would presumably allow for a 12.5mm drive instead of a 9mm one. Other problem was during refit of the case, the earthing fingers at the back didn’t engage properly and I bent some, so had to take it apart, straighten them, and refit.

  133. I have a 160gb Western Digital 2.5″ HDD which came out of a Macintosh I book 14″ loaded with Leopard 10.6. I would like to use it as an external hdd for my windows 7 desktop PC. I’ve put the hdd into an external case and connected it to my PC, however, my computer will not find the device in “windows explorer” but in my device manager it is listed under “generic usb disk usb device. What I would like to do is reformat the disk to windows NDFS and be able to use it. But if I cannot see it o n my computer, then I cannot format it and therefore cannot use it.

    1. Sorry, no idea… apart from the “have you tried to format it?” question. Maybe some windows 7 user can help you?

  134. I couldn’t have done this without your tutorial. Thanks. The only difficulty was the not-magnetic screwdriver. I lifted the new drive a few mm up by holding my screwdriver below. I’ve upgraded from 80 GB to 320 GB.

  135. I’ve got to say that this is THE BEST tutorial I have come across on the internet concerning Mac Mini disassembly so far

    You have helped me a lot in my understanding of the Mac Mini and I just want to say thank you very very very very very much!! =D

  136. Thank you Sole for an excellent tutorial. All these notes are testimonial to a great piece of work. Thank you again.

    Just some notes for others having a go-

    I too had a bit of a problem getting the new HDD into the chassis due to the sloping problem (it’s a bit thinner than the space).
    Fixed this by disconnecting the copper strip that attaches hdd to mother board, flipped the chassis up on its side and pushed it in using the anti-static padding I’d transferred from the old hdd. Solved.

    But that caused a second issue – no internal hdd recognised when I booted up again using the external hdd. No bluetooth, no sound. Eek. Have I broken my mini?

    Did some searching of soul and internet – and found that my friend the copper cable had not been reattached properly.
    It was actually easier to reattach it once the mini was back with the chassis screwed in. The little white line the cable has is still just showing,as before, but reattaching seems to have worked. Just restoring now, 2 hours to go.

    Thanks again Sole, and nice too to read a lot of posts that are all positive and polite, even when there’s problems – well done everyone on that!

  137. Yes, Tom, I’m delighted with the ‘good vibes’ in the above comments. It’s nice to see people sharing their views and solutions in a honest way — just like you did!

    Thanks a lot.

  138. Hi – this was soooo useful – I followed your instructions exactly and it was a breeze! the videos were a great addition!


  139. Very well done, and with humor. This was perfect for me. I swapped out the HD that came with my mini (80 GB) for a new one with 320. Now my kids can put all the music they want in iTunes without filling it up. The pictures and movies in this DIY description worked perfectly for me. The one thing I’d say is that it really helps to have a screw driver that is a little magnetic, to pull out the screws from the wells they are in. Also, I used a retractor, the sort used by surgeons, for taking out the battery connector and for removing the antenna. It is a little hard to get the fingers in there. Anyway, thanks for doing such a good job.

  140. Great info and pictures!

    I just upgraded my 100Gb HDD Seagate on my Mac Mini early 2006 with a new 500Gb Seagate. It all went great. Of course excluding the fact that I was little bit rushing in the beginning and I succeed to break the wire of Bluetooth antenna – I will fix it later. Anyway I’m using BT rarely.


  141. Thanks, this worked a treat.
    I now have a kingston 96gb SSD in place and my mini is definitely snappier.

    1. Excellent! I see more and more people are opting for SSD’s in the Mini, albeit the sizes are still quite smaller than the original hard disks were. Interesting.

  142. Add my thanks to all the other folk here. Well-written, clear instructions, very much appreciated.

  143. Thank you Soledad, this is a great tutorial indeed.
    It all worked perfect with good preparation thanks to you. Instead of a 80GB I now have a WD 2.5″ 500GB SCORPIO BLACK SATA 2.0 7200RPM disk in my MacMini.
    Used CCC for cloning the disk, which was fine for this purpose. Discovered later on, however, that it would not copy to a NAS. Used SuperDuper instead for that, so perhaps SD is better in that regard.

  144. Hi,

    I just finished fitting a 1T Scorpio drive into my 2007 Mini. As the drive is 12.5 mm, it would normally not fit.

    As described already, the space between hard disk and DVD drive is sufficient, but may reduce cooling to both of them. On the other hand, since both drives will lie flat on each other, the DVD will serve as a cooler for the disk…. By the way, the small cable next to the battery, that must be disconnected, is actually a temperature sensor sitting close to disk & DVD. So I suspect that a heating drive will make the fan run faster.

    The problem with fitting a 12.5mm drive, however, is with the black plastic chassis. It has notches on the outer side, that are designed for 9mm drives. What I did is first remove the reinforcements on the notches, so that they effectively become a single, bent piece of plastic. I then heated each in turn carefully (and I mean CAREFULLY!) to change the bend, so it sits a bit further down, making room for the larger disk.

    The notch on the opposite side form the SATA connector, i.e. the one at the bluetooth antenna, is less well suited for thermal forming, and therefore I cut away half of it (the half closest to the disk).

    With all this done, the 12.5mm drive fits in well.

    So far it runs without a problem, but we’ll see in the long run whether heat becomes a problem.



  145. Thank you so much Tahir and Michael. Those are very valuable comments. Hope they are helpful for whoever wants to attempt this mac mini “surgery” 🙂

  146. Greetings and thanks from Germany for this really well written guide! Much appreciated.

  147. Fantastic guide, better than anything else I found. Hard drive removed in 10-15mins.

  148. thnx 🙂 great diy, i managed to change my mini’s hdd in 30 minutes.

  149. Just got done hacking the mount to fit a 12mm 1tb Western Digital Scorpio Blue. So far the OS is installing without any problems. Hopefully it lasts!

  150. Thanks for the good instructions. Now i have a pimped up Mini connected to my TV.

  151. So all this work just to change out a hardrive what ever happened to just opening up a slot and changing the thing?

  152. Glad this article was still available. Just upgraded my 40GB drive to 500GB. Nice not to have to think about space. Thanks for keeping the page up. Fun to see people comment’s over the years. Kudos!

    1. Of course it is available! It is waiting for people like you who want to give a new life to an otherwise very capable machine! 🙂 And yes, it’s lovely to see all the comments accumulate during the years. I’m pretty impressed myself 🙂

  153. Thank you for this great tutorial. It was super helpful. A suggestion to others is to pay close attention to the cable that comes off the original hard drive. It is not immediately obvious that this is just stuck on the drive and can be pulled off and stuck onto the new drive. I have a late 2009 mini, so the hard drive temperature sensor cable was not attached near the battery, but next to the SATA cable (I think that is what it is called).Problem was that I broke the connector pins while removing the jumper/plug and now have no way to reattach it. My fan is going gangbusters at 5000RPM (similar to a previous comment above). After much research, I found that I can enter a command in Terminal to force the fan speed down (I chose 2500 RPM). I then used Automator to create an app out of the Terminal script and placed it in the Login Items in System Preferences/Accounts.

    I’m not too worried about the Mini overheating, since the fan has always been silent in the past – it never seemed to have a need to fire up too much. But installed a temperature sensor to monitor things just in case.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I still haven’t had the opportunity/need to open one of the latest mac minis so I didn’t know about those changes. Hopefully they will be helpful for other visitors 🙂

  154. I will be using your step by step guide to do this. Where do I get those screw drivers?

    1. Any general hardware store. In fact pretty much everywhere, there are cheap screwdriver packs. Though the cheaper ones might get torn when used in stiff screws, so you need to weigh in all the options and decide.

      It’s always good to have proper screwdrivers handy so you might want to invest in a couple of decent ones 🙂

  155. What a superb tutorial, especially with the videos added to assist. Nice touch!
    I am now about to upgrade my Mini to a 750gb drive and 4gb Ram. Thanks from UK!

  156. Great instruction. I have a late 2009 Mac Mini. I put in a Seagate 750GB HDD and added 8GB of memory –
    Crucial CT2KIT51264BC1067 8GB 204-PIN PC3-8500 SODIMM DDR3 (4GBx2). Mac booted up with no issues. Very nice!

  157. i used a sharpened credit card to open the case, it is a mac after all! actually, just forgot to buy a putty knife and had a recently expired card nearby…

    what i did differently about the disk content: i did not make a copy of the old startup drive, i simply put it into enclosure, booted from it via usb and restored it onto the empty new drive

    1. Hey, the sharpened credit card trick is a new one. Might be useful for people without a putty knife handy! Thanks for the idea 🙂

  158. Changed mine the other day – almost hassle free

    I have a mid 2009 mac mini and was slightly different inside hardware wise

    There was a small cable/wire attacahed to the end of the hard drive by a tiny piece of circuit board. Could not figure out how or why it would hard wire into a HDD so I took a deep breath and pulled it off – it was just glued on there

    I then stuck it onto the new hard drive and rebooted – all works ok. No idea what the wire is for :S

  159. Second time I used this excellent tutorial, this time to upgrade to 1TB. This time I managed not to leave a part of my finger in the box when closing it. Thanks again!

Comments are closed.