Picture of A clever way to access the USB ports on your iMac (+ video)
This is an evolution on our last Instructable where we tried to solve the problem of accessing the USB ports on an iMac.

People raised some interesting points about how "ugly" the solution was and then criggie suggested using magnets and we thought, hey, that's an awesome idea, so we tested it and loved it :)

Here is a simple Instructable on how you can make this too.

This is a smart idea that is a total pleasure to use, I imagine that you can have loads of quick access ports dotted around the back of your machine now, the possibilities are endless.

1. sugru - one mini pack is enough to make 3 of these
2. Neodymium magnets (we got these ones from ebay but you could probably use slightly smaller ones)
3. USB extension cable (male to female) 
4. scissors
5. tissue paper

Step 1: OPPOSITES ATTRACT - label your magnets

Picture of OPPOSITES ATTRACT - label your magnets
I think everyone knows how magnets work, but it's pretty easy to mount these incorrectly and for this project not to work for you, so, here comes some obvious but useful tips.

With magnets, OPPOSITES ATTRACT, this is the key thing to remember so we recommend that you label your magnets.

Allow your magnets to attract, (if you are using Neodymium then be careful, they are powerful)

Label the sides, we marked ours with plus and minus signs.
cglaw20131 year ago
Ares2522 years ago
very creative, i just have on question. wouldnt the magnet mess with the computer?
projectsugru (author)  Ares2522 years ago
hi, good question. These magnets are not very strong and don not interfere with the computer at all. We were at a magnet warehouse last year and they guy there showed us a magnet that would delete data on a hard-drive and it was MASSIVE. These magnets are too small for that. Also, interesting point, the magnets power reduces exponentially with distance, so it is much less powerful even just 1mm from a surface. If you consider the distance between the magnet and the hard-drive, usually at least 1/4" or more, then the magnetic force will be significantly diminished.
Magnets do damage old CRT monitors (the big old heavy type, oh, and old floppy discs etc. I guess that's where the magnet and computer warning came from, not a concern any more, particularly with solid state drives etc.)
Hope this helps,
Ares2522 years ago
very creative, i just have on question. wouldnt the magnet mess with the computer?
ecook12 years ago
isnt it bad for magnets and computers to touch?
projectsugru (author)  ecook12 years ago
Small magnets are safe near computers. In fact, magnetism reduces exponentially with distance so there is almost no magnetism through the housing of the machine. That coupled with the fact that these magnets are small means that there is literally no risk. Also interesting to know that Apple use magnets on most of their products. For example the screen on my MacBook is held closed by magnets...
carlos66ba3 years ago
Excellent idea! Want an even better suggestion: for a couple of extra bucks buy a small USB hub instead of a USB cable extension. Then you will get 4 ports conveniently located on the (e.g.) right of the imac, instead of the stup*d back location. Unbelievable that apple would put the connectors in such a silly place...
projectsugru (author)  carlos66ba3 years ago
I thought about that but you compromise speed and the ability to charge accessories / phones when you use a USB hub. I would recommend that each USB port has a single dedicated extension.
any chance of free sugru to get a feel for it as i am planning to get some soon but dont know how much to get

thanks loads

I use a powered hub and it works fine for charging iphones and ipods. I have not noticed any speed difference. In any case if speed is an issue for copying files I use a firewire drive.
That's true with some hubs, but I'm able to charge devices plugged into my USB-powered hub and I haven't noticed a significant loss of speed either.
excuse me if I'm skeptical, but I won't be attaching magnets to my computer anytime soon.
Unless you still deal with old floppy disks (diskettes), you really don't have anything to worry about. If you have an iMac with the aluminum case, you already have magnets all over it. The front glass if held on with magnets, and that's how you get inside. Just pop the glass off to reveal screws around the edge of the LCD screen. Even if you don't have an iMac, if you have a hard drive in your computer, there are very powerful magnets inside of it. If you have a dead hard drive laying about, open it up and "harvest" those bad boys. Caution! They are REALLY powerful. Powerful enough to hurt you if you were to put them in a position to pinch you.
I had this problem with a PC too with rear mounted USB. I pimped up one of my daughter's old clay models - clunkier than your elegant solution, but I quite like having a daft colouful monster on the desk.

You stick the USB things into its mouth
Painting the finished model

akes me laugh every time!
projectsugru (author)  rosemarybeetle3 years ago
Haha, very cute :)

It's cheap and cheery, but I like it!
Why use two magnets? One magnet sticks to a metal washer just fine. Magnet on one surface, washer on the other...
projectsugru (author)  stringstretcher3 years ago
Good comment, definately worth doing it that way.
l8nite3 years ago
I always thought magnets around computers was a no no. My pc has a couple of ports on the back, I used an extension cable and a multi port adapter hot glued in a convenient location on the case side. Maybe it's not pretty but I'm the only one who uses the computer and I don't care, as for speed, I seldom use all the ports and even rarer are more than one thing being used. Nice "ible" and great pics !
ollienye3 years ago
Does this affect the working of the iMac, (HDD/Screen/Speakers/etc.)?
projectsugru (author)  ollienye3 years ago
not at all :)