Introduction: Upgrade the Hard Drive on a MacBook Pro (HDD + SSD)

Picture of Upgrade the Hard Drive on a MacBook Pro (HDD + SSD)

If the original hard drive on your MacBook Pro is getting a little too full you can replace it with a much larger one pretty easily. After all, hard drives have gotten cheap with 1TB drives available for under $100.

If you want to give your aging machine an even bigger boost, I'd strongly suggest opting for a new SSD (flash) drive instead. With your system and apps on it, you can get work done much faster as everything will go from sluggish to snappy.

Either way you go the process is the same and, aside from one long data transfer you can sleep through, it only takes a few minutes.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Here's the small list of hardware you need:
 - new 2.5" HDD or SSD drive
 - external 2.5" USB enclosure ($10)
 - #00 Philips screwdriver
 - T6 screwdriver

And 2 software options
 - Carbon Copy Cloner  - free for 30 days, $40 after
 - SuperDuper!  - free for basic use (all we need here) and $28 for full services

I've used both applications for this and both worked equally well for the basic application of hard drive cloning.

Step 2: Clone Your Hard Drive

Picture of Clone Your Hard Drive

Now we're going to completely copy the hard drive in the MacBook Pro. Complete and total brain cloning. This process is an overnighter for sure. It took me 7 hours to copy over 400GB so plan on roughly 1GB per minute.

Put the new drive into the USB enclosure and plug it into your MacBook Pro. You'll probably need to use Disk Utility to format the new drive. I used MAC OS Extended (Journaled).

Fire up either CCC or SuperDuper! and follow the instructions to clone your computer onto the new drive. Since this is the basic use you shouldn't need to fiddle with the settings. Just hit go and leave it alone for a while.

Step 3: Open Up Your Laptop

Picture of Open Up Your Laptop

Here's your last chance to bail. Opening up your MacBook Pro opens you to the possibility of messing something up and voiding your warranty so if that bothers you you can just sit tight with what you have. But since you've already gotten this far you're probably both inclined to get it done AND have a machine past warranty anyway.

So shut down your laptop and flip it over. Use the #00 screwdriver to remove all the screws on the back. On my laptop there are 10 of them. Be sure to place them somewhere safe so they don't roll away into oblivion. These screws love oblivion.

With the panel removed you can see the hard drive. It's being held in place by 4 more screws. Remove those and you'll be able to lift up the hard drive and unplug it.

Remove the four posts on the side of the hard drive with the T6 screwdriver.

And that's it! Everything unscrewed and removed! Now let's put it back together again.

NOTE: your computer may be slightly different. If it is and you're afraid to go it alone, check out ifixit for more guides.

Step 4: Put It All Back

Picture of Put It All Back
Now we do everything in reverse.
  1. Add the four posts to the new drive (shown in pic)
  2. Plug in the new drive
  3. Insert new drive
  4. Screw in 4 screws for new drive
  5. Put panel back on
  6. Screw in 10 screws in the panel
And... that's it. Turn the machine on and you're good to go. Enjoy your upgraded machine!


JeniusLife (author)2017-10-24

Hi. Thank you for all of this knowledge.

I'm wanting to upgrade from 512 to 1tb on my Macbook Pro I belive from 2014/2015 and am wondering if it is going to wipe out all my current information/pics/etc on my computer as well as if I can have apple do it within thier guidlines as not to void my warranty?

You should have all of you files safe on the new drive. You'll be copying every single file over.

jeff.cartwright.562 made it! (author)2017-05-27

Thanks! My old MacBook seems like a new computer.

Instead of external USB enclosure, I used a USB 2.0 to SATA Converter/Adapter, ~$15.

Before installing the SSD, I rebooted by pressing power key and holding down option key until I saw the boot drives. I selected SSD drive and booted from there. The SSD is very slow through the USB so this takes a while. When I was sure it worked, I installed the SSD.

While I had the MacBook open, I vacuumed out all the dust from the fan.

gonzalofv (author)2017-01-31

hi , i recommend this upgrade as we do a lot of it at and speed up the mac up to 5 time , so no more spinning wheels

johnmarkharris (author)2016-12-11

Oh my gosh, I checked "I Made It" and lost my super long helpful comment. Here's the short. It worked no problem... SuperDuper! used this drive Link: 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mid 2010, Sierra

GregoryG19 (author)2016-01-05

I'm looking at buying a new MacBook Pro. Can I upgrade the hard drive on the newer models? purchase in 2016 new.

Phud8 (author)GregoryG192016-11-08

No. They're soldered in.

KevinJ142 (author)2016-08-10

Hi I have a Macbook Pro A1278 with El Capitain on a 500gb HD.

I bought a 500gb SSD, Hooked it up to a USB 3.0 and Ran SuperDuper with Make Bootable checked on. Said it completely successfully but when i just plug in the SSD i get a long wait and a Folder with the question mark on it.

When i put the old drive back and plug the SSD in with the USB it comes up fine.

What am i doing wrong?

BartM11 (author)KevinJ1422016-08-11

Did you first use Disk Utility to format the new ssd drive with MAC OS Extended (Journaled) as described in step 2? Most SSDs are formatted for windows if you buy them

KevinJ142 (author)BartM112016-08-16

Thought it was fixed :(

It ran a few times with no problem. Now i keep getting the Folder with a question mark again. wtf

BartM11 (author)KevinJ1422016-08-17

I almost think you have faulty hardware or incompatable hardware for the SSD-USB interface. I saw that with a Samsung drive once. Can you use another interface cable?

KevinJ142 (author)BartM112016-08-21

It's a Sandisk X400 SSD 512gb.

Is that compatible?

KevinJ142 (author)BartM112016-08-17

Don't have another cable, i was thinking it could be that. If it was incompatible why would it work sometimes

KevinJ142 (author)BartM112016-08-12

I followed the same steps but this time it worked! Oh well thanks for the help

KevinJ142 (author)BartM112016-08-11

Actually i just remembered i did cuz SuperDuper only showed one drive until i ran the disk utility to make it show up on the list to copy to

KevinJ142 (author)BartM112016-08-11

Yes but i will do it again

If i didn't do that wouldn't the drive not come up when i plug in the SSD via USB when the standard HD is up and running the OS?

wlionfeng (author)2016-06-23

Thanks for the help! wonderful guide!
Once I want to clone a hdd to a ssd, with google I found this guide:
If you want to do the same task, you can refer it!

wlionfeng (author)2016-06-23

Thanks for the help! wonderful guide!
Once I want to clone a hdd to a ssd, with google I found this guide:
If you want to do the same task, you can refer it!

kevin.longeuay made it! (author)2016-06-03

Wow, that was super easy! Followed your instructions to a T and everything worked great! Nice "ible" Fungus!


KianDonoghue89 (author)2016-04-18

I have an A1398, what would be the best SSD for this model and what size SSD can it handle?

OzairR (author)2016-03-09

So I've set up an SSD in the optical bay. And after using carbon copy
cloner, i've copied everything onto my ssd. Now if I want to transfer
files back and forth between my HD and SSD how would I do that?

Also, if I use carbon copy cloner, and booted the SSD, is everything backed up from the hD?

BenS135 (author)OzairR2016-03-16

I will be doing the same as you in a few days when my SSD arrives in the mail. The way I'm going to check is to shut down the system, unplug the HDD and then boot up to see if everything works fine. Then I'll wipe the HDD. I have a bootable external backup just in case!

BenS135 (author)OzairR2016-03-16

I will be doing the same as you in a few days when my SSD arrives in the mail. The way I'm going to check is to shut down the system, unplug the HDD and then boot up to see if everything works fine. Then I'll wipe the HDD. I have a bootable external backup just in case!

RyP1 (author)2016-02-28

Does the new hd have to be the same size in order to clone it?

blakehx (author)2016-02-20

Thanks for a great instructable! When I did this it basically deactivated my Microsoft Office Suite! Mins don't have my product key anymore either! What can I do, Microsoft is being no help at all!

Shagarello (author)2016-02-18

I'm still running Snow Leopard. If I want update my OS along with this process (swapping out old HDD for new SSD), where (at what step) and how should I do this? Can anyone outline the steps for me? Thanks in advance!

bobbydong481224 (author)2016-01-06

How much Macbook Pro Cost?

KyleG31 (author)2015-12-08

I just completed the upgrade of my 2012 non-retina MacBook Pro. I upgraded from stock 1 TB 5400 rpm HDD to 500 GB Samsung Evo 850 SSD. Two notes to keep in mind: with SuperDuper! the cloning process is essentially creating the image then copying it/cloning it to your new drive. I used a SATA to USB3.0 connector. This process to transfer 180 GB of data took 2 hours. The Solid State Drive installation took 10 minutes, if that. The second thing you want to take note, after installation I noticed on boot up, I would get the Apple chime, a blank screen for 30 seconds then the Apple logo showed up and blast off. If you happen to run into that, go to System Preferences -> StartUp Disk and make sure your Solid State Drive is selected as the StartUp Disk. After choosing, reboot. Now my boot time went from 35 seconds to 3 seconds. Maybe not 3, but you catch my drift.

QuantMech (author)2015-10-14

Awesome Guide. For those of you with newer (un-upgradeable) MacBook Pros (since 2011) I would recommend as an hard drive upgrade.

As far as I know it's the only way to actually upgrade your internal hard drive (also doesn't require any tools which is cool).

snakattak (author)2015-10-04

Hey Fungus (LOL!),

thanks for the great instructable, had an almost trouble free install. Used SuperDuper and it took me a while to get confident about it as I was focussing on "cloning" but it's terminology didn't directly refer to that, rather "copy/backup" then in options "make bootable" = "cloning".

The issue I did encounter was with iTunes, it wouldn't start, showing an error message "iTunes not installed properly or corrupted, error (-47032)". The simple fix was to re-install it by visiting and getting a new install package which executes confirming you're installing over an existing copy, all easy peezy and my music works fine.

MichaelD132 (author)2015-09-26

Im doing this project thanks for the info. Some questions thanks.

I have Early 2011 macbook pro 13".

Im getting Samsung evo 500gb sata lll ssd + optical enclosure (for old HDD) + recommended items.

I want to use SSD for running computer so should I just clone the ssd, follow your procedure. And then once i have placed the HDD in the optical drive, transfer data and files like movies, photos and music onto HDD. Just so the SSD isnt filled up with data from the start of use.


Should I just move the software (via the usb way) onto new SSD and just put the old HDD in optical drive?

Im sure they both ends with the same results just not quite sure haha.

Go with the simplest method: clone, swap, and delete what you don't want off of the SSD once it's in.

JeremyC15 (author)2015-08-13

Hey, I'm going to undertake this project in the next few days since my harddrive died and Apple quoted me $280 for a replacement 1TB Hardrive.

Since I'm not cloning over any old data (since there isn't any!)

Will the process be equally simple, just instal harddrive, boot up, press command R and proceed to install OS (that's how simple the guy at the Apple Store made it out to be)

Thanks a lot!

laptop_keys (author)2015-07-27

Well done.. It's nice of you to share the step by step guidance..

TheBlackSharpie (author)2013-01-13

Best upgrade: buy a PC!

BillB29 (author)TheBlackSharpie2015-07-17 thanks. I actually want my computer to work when I need it.

I'll build a PC if I need one. My MBP is where I get all my work done and haven't had the need (ie. time to play games) to add a PC back into my collection.

drlentz10 (author)2015-06-27

Thanks for posting this, just completed my HDD and memory upgrade to my mid-2010 macbook pro and this instructable was really helpful! Got all the parts for ~$100 on amazon and the difference after upgrading is noticeable. Parts:

DatoA (author)2015-05-13

Hi :) I know it's been two years since you published this, but I just got into the issue and planning to upgrade my MBP (mid 2010) with the SSD from Samsung (850 EVO 500GB). All the instructions above are clear and perfect (Thank you!), just one question - what is the process after I put the new SSD and everything back again? Just turn laptop on and plug my USD drive with backed-up data and... what's next? May be my question is stupid, but I'd really appreciate your help. Best!

fungus amungus (author)DatoA2015-05-15

If you've cloned the HDD onto your SSD, then you turn it off, swap drives, and turn it on again. No need to keep the HDD plugged in via a USB enclosure.

KaritzB (author)2015-01-20

I don’t think
so about facing any problem. All is about cost vs. performance. Please have a
backup copy either with Time Machine or with an efficient software of drives in advance before initiating his process. Apart from CCC, I use Stellar Drive Clone software for creating a bootable clone of my MacBook Pro.

danovitz (author)2014-09-27

Thanks for the article. I am only having trouble on one front. The new 2TB drive is only showing up as 500GB (old disk size). Do I need to change a software setting somewhere?

AlexW4 (author)danovitz2014-10-21

Not sure if you figured it out but you need to go to disk utility (while booted on the new drive) and select the device (not the partition but the the above it in the hierarchy) and go to the partition table. Take the main partition and drag it all the way out to the 2tb end mark

leronb (author)2013-01-13

Just how difficult is it to upgrade the RAM on a MacBook Pro? Thanks for the tutorial!

puggirl415 (author)leronb2014-08-23

I'm considering doing several upgrades to my older MacBook Pro including RAM. This video tutorial is also very good and covers RAM upgrade, and adding a second Solid state drive where the optical drive is. Check it out.

fungus amungus (author)leronb2013-01-13

Extremely easy. The RAM is held in place by two black plastic tabs. Push both out to side at same time to release the RAM, making it pop up. Pull the RAM out (careful and firm) and put new RAM in (careful and firm again).

Make sure you get ram that is listed as MAC combatiple. The socket is the same but the protocol is slightly different in how they work. found out the hard way on that

tobyhall (author)2014-03-13 will this one work

tobyhall (author)2014-03-13

which hard drive did you use

tobyhall (author)2014-03-12

does this work if i have boot camp my mac

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
More by fungus amungus:3D Printed US Population MapLight Painting With an IPhoneSuper Bright RGB LED Bike Wheels
Add instructable to: