Picture of How to make a Macbook Tablet
iPad too small or too locked-down for you? Build your own Mac Tablet!

There are three excellent Mac Tablet builds on Instructables already, so what sets my build apart from the crowd?
- The build is self-contained within the original Macbook body.
- Instead of using a Wacom tablet such as c4l3b or tqbrady's build, this tablet uses a modified Wacom TabletPC digitiser and stylus from a HP TX1000. Its much thinner and easier to modify.
- The optical drive, keyboard and trackpad get ditched for a USB hub and some funky peripherals...

The inspiration for this build came from the Axiotron Modbook (or nowadays, Modbook Inc's Modbook Pro), which turned a Macbook Core 2 Duo into a tablet. Whilst being the object of my affections for a few years, the price tag was just too great. 

On launch, the Modbook's RRP was a whopping £1,649.
My build is currently topping out at £240

The shopping list:
£150 - Macbook Core 2 Duo (2.16gHz, 80gb hard drive, 1gb ram) sold without battery or OS X, off eBay. 
£25 - HP TX1000 Wacom Digitiser with cable, off eBay.
£25 - HP TX1000 Stylus and spare nibs, off eBay.
£20 - Wire, solder wick, flux pen from Proto-Pic
£20 - Second HDD Caddy
(Several other parts and accessories have been collected over the years and have been reused.)

You're probably excited by the cheap cost by now, so before we begin, here's a word of warning:
During this build, you will destroy a perfectly good Macbook. It involves cutting a huge hole in the display lid, tearing the keyboard to its basic parts, cutting parts of the chassis, and soldering/desoldering tiny wires which connect to the logic board. This build is not to be undertaken lightly!

That's it, that's all. Let's make a MacTab!
SaadA613 days ago

I have started following the guide with a 15 inch unibody mid 2009 core 2 duo macbook i had laying around (of course following with major compromises since there very loosely similar)
I am running into issues with finding a digitiser that works with my display size (assuming 12 inch is nowhere near big enough), so I was wondering if you could maybe suggest a similar model to me

MrQuiffster (author)  SaadA66 days ago

Hello! I assume its the 15.4" size, and that will be fun to tear apart! A lot of a metalwork involved, right?

At the cheap end (and probably the easiest to obtain) would be a Toshiba Tecra M4 digitiser. I believe these screens go up to 14" in size, so you'd still have some calibration issues. They are Wacom though, so the Wacom drivers should work.

At the expensive and possibly very hard-to-get is the Sony Vaio FIT 15A. This has a 15.5" screen, and an N-Trig digitiser.

It might be worth asking on the Bongofish forums, as they are more likely to know a decent enough digitiser! Good luck, and let me know if I can help you at any other time!

Coolvlad2 months ago
Smart that so cool
carldyke2 months ago

I like it alot you should do it to a white unibody with 8gb ram to make a more powerful one

awesome I would like one!
G9baum3 months ago
Would this work with a new macbook pro 2013 retina edition
MrQuiffster (author)  G9baum3 months ago

In theory, yes, but you probably want to check iFixit to see how to take the Retina Macbook apart, and how easy it would be to modify it to accept a digitiser.

I've had a look, and it would be very very difficult to do, but not impossible. Good luck!


smac746 months ago
MrQuiffster (author)  smac746 months ago

Confused by what?

Apologies, I believe that this comment may have been left by my daughter (she is only 9), she loves the Instructables site and uses my log in.

jeremy loa1 year ago

Can i make from other laptops such as samsung , acer or etc ?

MrQuiffster (author)  jeremy loa1 year ago

It should be possible to. It all depends on how the screen is fitted to the case, and whether the case is symmetrical or not!

You may also need to step down a USB supply to 3.3v too. Hope this helps!


puddingman1 year ago
Dude make me one
I really like this idea
cool app
benhacker1 year ago
ihave made a version like you said but used an old ipad screen and inserted a patch for multi touch capabilities now working on screen rotation
MrQuiffster (author)  benhacker1 year ago

Wow! Really? Can I ask how you managed to implement multi-touch and screen rotation?

roryg181 year ago
Where can u get the touch screen from for the tab u made
MrQuiffster (author)  roryg181 year ago

It's not a touch screen. It's a normal laptop screen with a pen digitiser behind the screen. The digitiser can be found on eBay.

ArborPress1 year ago
What type of soldering station is that? It's beautiful.
MrQuiffster (author)  ArborPress1 year ago

It's a Weller WHS40. 'Beautiful' is exactly how I would describe it too!

jelimoore1 year ago
What about a keyboard?
MrQuiffster (author)  jelimoore1 year ago
See the reply to Jovino, as they asked the same question.
pkarelia1 year ago
What about multi touch gestures and a multi touch capacitive touchscreen with on screen keyboard
MrQuiffster (author)  pkarelia1 year ago
There's only single-point on this device, and thats via the pen. I believe you can get a multi-touch glass overlay to go on top of the screen, but getting it to fit inside the casing might be a problem.
I'm also not sure about whether OSX allows multi-touch or not, and I would assume if it did, it may only be limited to mouse-gestures.
I'm working on it. Lately I have almost no time to invest. Patience.
I have been working a cuople of weeks with a similar project.
I have the solutions to make a macbook tablet with a calibrated touch screen.
I have used tx1000 and tx2000 digitizer. Both are calibrated in mac os 10.7. In a few days I'll publish the "how to".
Thank you MrQuiffster for the inspiration!
MrQuiffster (author)  dmolada rossello1 year ago
Fantastic, I can't wait to see the finished Instructable!
Hopefully you will inspire more people to give this project a go!
Link for the "HP TX1000 Wacom Digitiser with cable"? Will the TX 2500 work?

Looks like something like this?

1. http://www.amazon.com/HP-TouchSmart-TX2-1000-SUBSTITUTE-REPLACEMENT/dp/B003YBJDMI/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1380947906&sr=1-2-fkmr1&keywords=hp+tx1000+wacom+digitizer




Driver for the Digitizer?
MrQuiffster (author)  vinchenzo26111 year ago
I think the TX2500 will work, provided its a Wacom digitiser. Link 2, 3 and 4 would all work, but you can get just the digitiser on eBay, and stick it to the back of the Macbook LCD. If you're going to use the HP LCD, there could be some compatibility problems.

As for the drivers, the generic Mac OS X drivers work alright. However, these are Wacoms drivers closest to this digitiser: ftp://ftp.wacom-europe.com/pub/Mac/cons505-3_int.dmg

Hope that helps!
garrettgor2 years ago
Can I make it with a MacBook Pro
MrQuiffster (author)  garrettgor2 years ago
In theory, you should be able to with the A1211, A1226 or A1260 models because they were built with the similar processes to the Macbook I used. However, the motherboards are completely different and you would have to do some research on iFixit to see if it'll work.

If you're trying to do it with a unibody Macbook Pro, then thats going to be MUCH harder as the screen is glued to the lid, and you would potentially have to mill out the keyboard area.
If you do give it a go, good luck! It's a really interesting project and you'll learn a ton about Macs in the process!
You have serious skill man
Absolutely incredible:) wow
WillG17272 years ago
You should make more and sell them on eBay. I know I would buy one. :)
theargha2 years ago
Just engrave an Apple logo on the back. Really awesome :-)
sonicrz2 years ago
Epic dude just epic
MrQuiffster (author)  sonicrz2 years ago
Very kind! Thanks!
I've been thinking about doing this for a while, though I wonder if I could do it with a UC-Logic Digitizer? I've got one and I'm trying to make just the DIY cintiq with it, once I get that working maybe I'll feel a bit more adventurous and try making my old macbook into a tablet.

MrQuiffster (author)  tylerwhitworth2 years ago
Hi, sorry for the late reply!
If I remember right, the Bongofish forums have a fair bit of info on the UC-Logic boards, however, I'm not sure if it would be fully compatible with OSX.
Having said that, I wasn't sure my TX2000 digitizer would be compatible either, so have a bit of pioneering spirit and give it a go...or not!
Good luck!
What OSX can this run?
MrQuiffster (author)  HarryBeast20002 years ago
Its currently running 10.5, but with the chipset and motherboard, there's no reason it shouldn't run 10.6 or even 10.7 (I'm still running 10.6 on My Macbook Pro and have no experience of 10.7 Lion!)
jadyoh2 years ago
Very creative and almost professional. Good job
You should show Apple that!
This was amazing!!
This was amazing!!
This is pretty sweet!  Wish I knew how to do stuff like this :)  You should enter it into the Holiday Gifts Contest!
MrQuiffster (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
Thank you for the kind words! I've entered it, so we'll see how it fares..!
avgmike2 years ago
Found this one while looking for yours. Very similar but he's put in a wireless charging coil too. Neat mod btw

MrQuiffster (author)  avgmike2 years ago
Wow! When I was hunting for similar projects, I only found the ones I mentioned in the Instructable, but thats a nice project! Thanks for the tip!
Makes me want to own a mac.
MrQuiffster (author)  FuzzyBearGeek2 years ago
Thank you! If you have some spare cash, buy an old Mac off eBay. There are plenty of hacks and tricks you can do with these old machines!
MrQuiffster (author)  FuzzyBearGeek2 years ago
Thank you! If you have some spare cash, buy an old Mac off eBay. There are plenty of hacks and tricks you can do with these old machines!
xMSIx2 years ago
This is really nice. So basically you can turn any laptop into a tablet?
MrQuiffster (author)  xMSIx2 years ago
With a bit of willpower and a ton of patience, I think you probably can turn almost any laptop into a tablet. However, if you're looking for a non-Mac tablet, I suggest just buying an old TabletPC. At least you would have the foundations for upgrading it right there, and depending on the model, you may even have touch support too!
pertamax112 years ago
Wow!!! an awesome project!!
Voted !!
MrQuiffster (author)  pertamax112 years ago
...and thanks to you [and others like you], I somehow won a Grand Prize in the Reuse Contest! Thank you very much for your support!
crazyg2 years ago
MaxZim2 years ago
In response to comment(s) - I fully agree that there is a market niche, so:

Who's up for starting a business with me to appeal to the low-cost to even very-low-cost markets to even high-end users in the long run for such a device type? I have a list of improvements in mind that I have categorized by cost but also implementation complexity. Creating the first prototypes and products with the help of funding raised via Kickstarter. I think this is absolutely exciting from a technological standpoint but also makes total sense from a business perspective.
jovino2 years ago
So... how do you type?
MrQuiffster (author)  jovino2 years ago
You have three options.
1. Use the Keyboard Viewer. Its handy for tapping small amounts of text (Use it for Spotlight and hunting through iTunes)
2. Apple Ink is handwriting recognition software built-in. Its pretty good, and can make my scrawl legible. I use it for writing anything up to a few paragraphs.
3. Bluetooth or USB Keyboard. This is only for when I need to do some heavy typing, and I generally use my Macbook Pro for that kind of work anyway.

If you want a computer for typing, i'd recommend you leave it as a Macbook!
Ahhh, yes. Thanks. :)
MrQuiffster (author) 2 years ago
I'm away from the internet for the next fortnight or so due to work. However, any question or comments posted WILL be answered when I next get internet.

Thanks for the overwhelming response to my project; I'm humbled by your kind comments!
zack2472 years ago
this is really cool!
and a person could easily adapt this to any other computer as well!

personally i'd have used the extra space to optimize the cooling in the computer, but the extra storage is a nice touch too.

i hope i can get the opportunity to try something like this in the future!
MrQuiffster (author)  zack2472 years ago
The extra space could definitely be used for cooling, or anything you like! Once you take the optical drive out, its surprising how much room you have to play with!
agreed! theres many more useful things you can put there if you never use the optical drive. :3
InX2 years ago
Just for Keynote and PowerPoint presentations, such pocketable Mac would be great. I mean, make the presentation on the Mac, move the file to the pocketable Mac, carry ONLY the latter one in a pocket and do the presentation. No need to carry 2 kg of a laptop et al. Because even the 11-inch MacBook Air is too heavy and large.

And concerning iOS, it does not work. Keynote and PowerPoint presentations created on a Mac are NOT compatible with the iOS devices. And I mean all presentations, not just the simple ones.
MrQuiffster (author)  InX2 years ago
Hmm. You could try a hackintosh Sony Vaio UX. They're small, light, pocketable and a fully functioning computer. I own one, and they're astonishlingly powerful for something so small. Might be just your solution!
InX2 years ago
The message below was in reply to MrQuiffster, because this comment system does not allow me to reply to such comment using Safari 5.1.7 on Mac OS X 10.6.8, since it requests to enter words that do NOT show at all.
sfjberk2 years ago
Not only is this how-to piece all the commenters say it is, but MrQuiffster's article is truly a joy to read. No unneeded apostrophes, very few unneeded commas. Good sentence structure; informative with a bit if humor thrown in to ensure it all goes down easily.
Hats off to you and your teachers, sir!
MrQuiffster (author)  sfjberk2 years ago
That's very kind of you! There will be more Instructables to come...
I have an old macbook (the original black model) but the screen is broken. any Ideas where I can get a new one?
eBay is a haven for second hand and replacement screens, and iFixit.com is a great place for spares too! I'm a big fan of the black Macbook, wish they would've continued it!
hsilva12 years ago
I will buy an macbook only for this!
Thanks a lot!
InX2 years ago
Apple should make a light (400 to 600 g) and small (5 to 9 inches) truly ultra-portable Mac (whatever form factor: chamshell, slider or tablet). That is great for Keynote and PowerPoint presentations.
MrQuiffster (author)  InX2 years ago
I agree with you, but I can see why they don't blend the Macbooks and iPads up like this. Using Mac OS X with a finger is a bit of a pain, as hitting scrollbars and small icons (minimize etc) are a case of jab and hope. Using a pen (like this Macbook) is a lot easier, quicker and even with the alignment problems, more accurate!
I'd love to see Apple make a slider, but with the Tablet-arms race in full swing, I can't see it happening!
tqbrady2 years ago
Apologies if I missed this bit, but without calibration software, how are you aligning the pen events with where they get rendered on screen? Or are you just not able to do that, yet? How much of the screen is covered by the digitizer?
MrQuiffster (author)  tqbrady2 years ago
You have it right, I'm not able to align the pen and the pointer completely yet. However, using Apples generic tablet drivers, it does recognise pressure. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but it is usable without alignment!

I almost ALMOST managed to get alignment using the Pen Tablet drivers supplied here: ftp://ftp.wacom-europe.com/pub/Mac/cons505-3_int.dmg
However, it hangs on trying to align the lower-right hand corner. This may be due to my sensor being slightly torn, or it might be an incompatibility issue. Using the driver, you can change the settings for the pen buttons though, so I have hope!

The HP TX2000 sensor is for a 12.1" screen and the Macbooks screen is 13.3", so you lose about 3/4" top and bottom, and about an inch on each side. There is a Fuji Lifebook (T900 if I recall) which has a 13.3" digitiser. Provided the sensor is USB, then it may work! The folks over at BongoFish have a much better idea than I do though, and their Wiki has a list of digitisers, their dimensions, and their inputs.
tqbrady2 years ago
GeekCrafter2 years ago
Awesome! I have an old MacBook that could be chopped up and rebuilt. Thanks!
xbeerd2 years ago
dude that is cool!
rasto2 years ago
This is very clever and very courageous. Well done!
kabruce2 years ago
Sweet chimi changas tha'ts amazing
MrQuiffster (author)  kabruce2 years ago
Sweet chimi changas thats a brilliant comment! Thankyou!
ostomesto2 years ago
This is pretty amazing, 5 * indeed. Good job!
MrQuiffster (author)  ostomesto2 years ago
Thanks! Thats very kind!
ynze2 years ago
What a hack! Fantastic! Once there was a company around that rebuilt MacBooks into tablets. I guess it was swiped out with the launch of the iPad...

I'm Googling now, brb...

ynze ynze2 years ago
I found this one: http://www.modbook.com/

But it is different than the one I remember from 2007 or so...

MrQuiffster (author)  ynze2 years ago
Axiotron (who made the original Modbook) used the Macbook as its 'base' and then added their own custom hardware and Wacom sensor to it, so it is very similar.

I'm looking forward to Modbook Inc. new version of it though (using a Macbook Pro for extra oomph!). I've always thought its been a market which has deserved to thrive on Macs!
l3rown2 years ago
Amazing well done sir !
LOL yup sure !!!! ¬¬