Introduction: Hack Mac Laptop to Be a Mac Tablet in 15 Minutes or DIY Cintiq

Picture of Hack Mac Laptop to Be a Mac Tablet in 15 Minutes or DIY Cintiq
I've had lots of questions from places where this has popped up:
1. yes it is pressure sensitive
2. it only works where my wacom sensor is... basically that white block in the video.
3. i used the g4 because it has a broken motherboard and was virtually trash anyway. it only boots some of the time. Any laptop should work.
4. yes, it could be prettier. I know. I don't care.
5. yes writing on an lcd is bad for it. If it were to be used more often I would place a small plexiglass or lexan sheet over the screen.

There are many many people who want mac tablets. Also, many artists like to be able to draw directly on the screen. Wacom offers a product that does this, but it is $1,000 - $4,000 depending on size.

There is also a company that modifies mac laptops to be tablets here: modbook

While both are fantastic products and far superior to what I've made I can't afford either of those. So, I took an old mac laptop and a wacom intuos2 tablet and hacked them together. It was fun and serves its purpose well enough for me.

Step 1: Disasemble Laptop Screen

Picture of Disasemble Laptop Screen

Follow the diagram below.

1. first remove the white casing. It is held by 4 allan screws.
2. Remove the metal shielding from the back of the panel, it is held by a few small screws.

Step 2: 5isassemble Tablet

Picture of 5isassemble Tablet

5 screws hold the case together, simply remove them and pull out the panel guts.

Step 3: Mount the Panel on the Back of the Screen.

Picture of Mount the Panel on the Back of the Screen.

place the panel so that the sensor area is not blocked by any circuits. Fasten into place. I used duct tape.

Step 4: Tweek in Software.

Picture of Tweek in Software.

In the wacom software, you can specify the screen area to be effected by tablet input. make the effected area match the shape, size and location of the sensor. this will line the cursor up with your input. This will require a lot of trial and error to get right.

Step 5: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

I really felt that this needed some drawings. Really the one you saw on there was the only one I did with it before I took it apart. So, I'll include other stuff I've done with the tablet and just assume you didn't read this paragraph. Enjoy!

Step 6: Visit Links of Better Made Versions.

These are others I have found on the intertron. They are all better than mine. But they all required more than 15 minutes to make.

The original DIY cintiq.

Some guy that did a powerbook mod. Just found this while looking for images for my instructable. His is pretty nice.


kraken1988 (author)2008-01-13

Duct tape is awesome... but there must be a more proffessional approach to this.... Great idea, to bad I don't have any money or parts.

c4l3b (author)kraken19882008-01-14

yeah, there are many more professional approaches. This was a proof of concept. It has been disassembled and put back to normal since then. I think the most professional solution would have been to mount the back panel back on. Also, someone posted a clear acrylic back panel that might have fit without modification.

sawnsu (author)c4l3b2009-11-11

HI My wife has an old ibook and im trying to convet it for her  but in all honesty we dont have money. I would like to see if i can create it for her. I am not able to see this diy due to the pro subscription which we cant afford. can someone anyone please email me the pdf to give me this oportunity see this diy and try and create it for my wife


static (author)sawnsu2011-07-17

I don't understand your request. While you need a subscription to download the PDF file yo don't need a subscription to actually view an instructable. The fact I'm responding to a comment you made to the instructable means you can view it. In the event you want to do is be able to study the instructable off line, most if not all browsers will save a web page as a file. Simply save each step as a web page. No not as handy as being able to download a single PDF file, but that's life for us who can't afford premium services, and have to make do with free or lower cost options. Good luck with it...

gmichaelt (author)static2012-01-31

Better yet, each time you elect to view the 'next step' in an instructible, direct that step to open in an adjacent tab (browsers now pretty much universally allowed tabbed browsing, but they vary in how they implement the 'open in new tab/window/' option). You should be able to work out, via the Preferences/Settings/Options for your browser, how to modify a click of a link to have that link open in a new tab. In any case, you can almost always use the contextual menu (or right-click + menu) to arrive at the same result.

When you're done opening all the steps (each in its own tab), you're left with a window that has multiple tabs arranged, left-to-right, in sequence for the 'ible you're considering. Passing quickly through the steps--whether in forward order, or reverse--is just a matter of clicking on the next tab in sequence.

If your browser allows for it, you might then save the tabs currently open as a set e.g. 'bookmark all tabs' or 'bookmark tab group' or something similar.

Questions about how, in particular, to do any of the above will be loudly ignored.

sawnsu (author)sawnsu2009-11-11

p.s my email is

getsdhc (author)sawnsu2010-01-31

Hello from mex.

Well Im a disigner and actually I work in a G pen 450 the prize is very good cause are the first line, round prox the $45 dollars. 

eeveenerd (author)2008-01-02

does it work for every part of the screen?

c4l3b (author)eeveenerd2008-01-03

This one does not. it has a 4x 6 section that works like a tablet.

apreviti (author)c4l3b2011-09-25

man.. that's great! Thanks for sharing! Is it possible, in your opinion, to make a 100% fullscreen version? Or the parts will not fit?

apender (author)2011-07-23

there are also usb touch screens that are claimed to work with mac.

i was planning to buy one till i broke down and got an actual tablet. screens come in various sizes and can run from $50-$100 more or less.

some are even infrared requiring no touching at all, just gesturing in air.

rasikananda (author)2011-01-29

Any thoughts on doing this with an iMac?

Take it off it's stand and it's basically at Cintique size already, or mount it at an angle like a drawing board, and it's perfect!

Marble of Doom (author)2009-06-18

Hey, great job! Geez, wish I had a G4, I'm stuck with my 600mhz G3 iBook.

I'm selling mine for cheap. iBook G4 white 1.2ghz with latest OS 10.5.x email me if u want it.

tinkerC (author)Marble of Doom2009-06-30

I have a 12" screen, G3, 500 MHz iBook, and it works like a charm. Just hope you don't like high power games, but you like the web, and watching videos.

linuxjuicer (author)2009-06-30

I am also working on a tablet solution for an iBook g4 14" so this is helpful. anyone can view my thread here:

still looking for someone to do the metalworking!?

JU4N1007 (author)2009-06-30

The best that you can do is go to a apple store and talk with the technical suppor so they will repair your mac to become a touch mac!

Punkguyta (author)2009-02-27

You must tell me where you got the touch screen guts!!! Look at what I did to my poor ibook

I even had to laugh at the fact that my ibook and your ibook both are held together with duct tape around the lcd bezzle. Hilarious.

millyan (author)2008-12-19

fantastic! I'm working this project for myself since finals are over-great little item.

DJ Radio (author)2008-07-16

why is this featured? I dont understand it from the pics

TheInventor (author)DJ Radio2008-07-17

It's featured because it's a good Instructable. Actually try reading it instead of just skimming every instructable's picture!

DJ Radio (author)TheInventor2008-07-17

well, not even them combined helps me understand

oblacone (author)DJ Radio2008-12-19

well then i guess you are stupid then :D

DJ Radio (author)oblacone2008-12-19

Man, this post was almost 6 months ago. I have read it and can understand it right now.

VDOria92 (author)2008-09-01

If i got a bigger tablet would that expand the amount of touchscreen space i would get or can u only get that one size? I would like to have the entire screen touch enabled. Great hack btw.

terrancio (author)2008-06-04

Hello, shouldnt you specify that this is about Merging both a Tablet and a Laptop together, NOT turning a Mac into a Tablet by itself? thanks

c4l3b (author)terrancio2008-06-04

The common term for a pen controlled portable computer is "tablet". Since the name of the wacom device used is also tablet, I see your confusion. I am showing a quick and easy way to create a mac "tablet" using a mac and a wacom device called a tablet.

bullzebub (author)2008-04-09

hello. i have tied this on my PC but i got some problems.
first of all i use a A4 sized tablet so it will affect the entire screen. however the problem is that i get interference or something so the cursor jumps around.
ive ofcourse reallocated the cables and stuff behind the LCD as much as possible.
its this type of screen:
any tips?

roulettescars (author)2008-03-31

Do you know if this would basically work the same way with an old swivel top imac screen? I don't actually need, or even want an OS on it, just want to use it as an external device on my macbook (which I love to much to risk breaking)

c4l3b (author)roulettescars2008-04-01

it should work on any screen as long as the internals don't get in the way and the power inverter is far away. I think you should probably look at the bongofish link to continue.

automata (author)2008-03-09

Can you post your driver settings? I have tried this with an old Lombard Mac and a Graphire. But am having trouble with the settings in the mapping section of the WACOM driver. It draws on the screen, but the pen does not match up with the cursor.

c4l3b (author)automata2008-03-11

oooh post a picture of yours!! I've already disassembled the one I did, the mac was broken and wouldn't work all the time. I remember I had to go into the "mapping" portion of the graphics driver and set it to "portion" I then had to play with the numbers to get it to match up EXACTLY to the physical size of the sensor area. Remember, the sensor is smaller than the entire graphire board. Take your time and adjust it over and over and over. the mouse will appear above your pen as you draw a line up if you have the space too low or too small. Its counter intuitive.

c4l3b (author)2008-02-14

wow, cool!

Switz (author)2008-02-13

This is nice! I am the other admin on Bongofish. I will be sure to post this asap!!!!

apixelpro (author)2008-01-29

Would this work with an older (Mac)ADB (pre-USB) Wacom tablet? I have a very old 6x8 tablet that works fine- when plugged into ADB, even with a USB converter.

Bloaty (author)2008-01-03

It would be more practical with this Speck See-Through Shell and a few well placed peices of plexi or lexan to make a removable screen cover!

c4l3b (author)Bloaty2008-01-07

that would be cool. That laptop has a bad logic board though, and it's pretty slow.

saad_3122000 (author)2008-01-04

Great idea! I never thought disassembling a wacom.

c4l3b (author)saad_31220002008-01-07

I didn't think of it either. I saw it on the bongofish website. I just wanted to do an easier simpler version

whiteoakart (author)2008-01-04

This is great. I have been fretting over Apple's decision not to make a tablet PC for years. I never thought of doing this. It is so simple. Thanks for the inspiration. Now, over to eBay for an old iBook and Wacom tablet. I already have the necessary parts but am not willing to sacrifice at his time. I will let you know how cheap I can do it. Could you hack into an LCD stand-alone monitor just the same? Then I would have a USB and AC Tablet accessory.

whiteoakart (author)whiteoakart2008-01-04

BTW, I love Corel Painter. I have been using it since version 4.

whiteoakart (author)whiteoakart2008-01-07

Oh wait, that's photoshop. Sorry for the confusion.

c4l3b (author)whiteoakart2008-01-07

both are fantastic. I haven't used painter in a while, so its interface is somewhat daunting, but I recall loving how natural it felt. Photoshop.. well I'm used to it.

c4l3b (author)whiteoakart2008-01-04

you could use any flat panel monitor. check the links on the last step for more in depth and better working versions.

J50Nunlimited (author)2008-01-04 the laptop doesn't have to have any Wacom guts? i got a glance at the original DIY cintiq: it's so confusing! there's so many steps..and i couldn't keep on following. i also looked up the driver for windows XP and there are so many! tablets...serial port (standard or non-standard)...usb...??? which one should i chose? thanks

c4l3b (author)J50Nunlimited2008-01-04

the laptop has to have the guts of a graphical tablet. It doesn't have to be wacom, but that's what most of us use. The drivers will be easier when you find a tablet.

J50Nunlimited (author)c4l3b2008-01-05


Shifrin (author)2008-01-04

Hey, I just saw you got Featured! Nice Job!

c4l3b (author)Shifrin2008-01-04

yeah, this is pretty cool.

aerovolce (author)2008-01-04

i tried doing this. ended up shorting my lcd T.T darn

About This Instructable




Bio: married, 2 kids, 2 businesess. no time.
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