Ipod Mini to 32gig and New Battery Without Scratching It.




In this Instructable, I'll be showing you how to easily open up an ipod mini without scratching or messing up the top and bottom, and upgrade the battery and the drive.

Thanks to geek technique for inspiration, they do have instructions, but not an example of if a 32 gig card would would work, and indeed it does.

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Step 1: So You Have an Ipod Mini...

So you have an Ipod mini. or you found one online for cheap, I got mine used for $60, great now its time to tear into it. Order yourself a 32 gig compact flash card, and a new replacement or upgrade battery, both can be found on amazon. Typically the batteries will come with cheap tools (usually a small flathead and phillips screwdriver, both still useful to us here)

Step 2: Get It Open Without a Scratch

To get inside of your mini, you'll need to remove the white plastic pieces from the top and bottom, they are glued on, and a bit difficult to remove. Typically people pry them up with a thin screwdriver, but at best you make a small mark anyway.

To do this, we're going to use hot glue as a 'handle' to get ahold of the plastic without damaging it. Sometimes a little dot of glue applied and let cure is enough, sometimes you have to glue something down to the piece to use as a handle.

For me the bottom was easiest, add a dab of glue, let it cool, pry it up gently, and put a screwdriver under the plastic to keep it up.

Also, I would be careful with a high temp glue gun, they may or may not melt or distort the plastic, I didnt try, and high on one gun may be a lot higher then another, so dont say you weren't warned if a high temp glue gun melts your ipod and eats your first born.

For the top, I had to glue a screwdriver down to the plastic piece and use that to lift off the cover.

Step 3: Free Up the Motherboard

Now that you got the covers off, time to free up the motherboard so you can get it out..
There are only 2 screws holding it in, but you'll need to disconnect the touch wheel before you can pull it out.

Take out the two screws on the top, and use some small screwdrivers to work on getting the on the bottom out. The clip has 4 holes, that are smaller then they could be...

I prefer to use a small phillips head to bend the arm of the clip in, and then use a flathead at the same time ot lift the arm up and out of its groove. Pop out one arm, then the one closest to it. Then do a 3rd on on the far side, and the clip should come right out.
Make sure you are cautious of whats behind the spring clip as youre getting it out (the dock connector and the fragile connector for the touchwheel).

Take your flathead and gently pry up the connector, till it slides apart.

Step 4: Gut It.

The motherboard, display, battery, drive, and the daughterboard which plugs into the motherboard all slide out to the top. Push it out from the bottom to get it started, and grab the mobo by the sides to slide it out the rest of the way.

This ipod had a stock (I believe) battery and a 4 gig seagate microdrive.

Step 5: Upgrade

The battery just unplugs and plugs in, the connector isn't horribly fragile, so just unplug the old on and plug in your new battery. I wouldn't put it in place yet however.

The connector for the microdrive however, is quite fragile, or at least the flex pcb running to it is. Take a screwdriver, and very gently find the seam between the microdrive, and the connector and slide the two apart.

The flex PCB coming from the connector comes out the top, and does a 180 back down to the motherboard, I'd be very cautious about messing with it. When you're pushing in the new compact flash drive, use 2 hand on the edge as opposed to one hand in the center.

Fold your new batter back over to where it belongs, and make sure to tuck the wires out of the way.

Step 6: Put It Back Together.

Now that youve upgraded, put the ipod back together, start to carefully slide the motherboard into the case. There is a lip in the case, the circuit board for the wheel goes above this lip, the motherboard does not!.

If there is any dust on the inside of the screen cover, or on the screen itself, now is the time to clean it off.

The motherboard slides in under the lip, back to its original position. Dont force the motheboard in, because it can get caugt on the side of the touchwheel circuit board, and if you rip some components off the board, chances are you're boned.

If your motherboard is caught at that first row of components, try rotating it slightly so that the bottom edge of the board is pushed more towards the back of the ipod. The squishy foam/metal thing on the bottom likes to push the mobo upwards, making it harder to assemble.

Once your board is back in, put the screws back, re-attach the click wheel, and put the clip and plastic covers back on.

Step 7: Almost There...

But not quite...

You just put a new blank drive into your ipod, so its kind of lost since it just got its memory wiped.

go to apple and download itunes and install it, and then plug in your ipod.

itunes should realize you ipod is not amused at the moment and let you know you need to fix it.

Restore it to factory settings, and congrats, just like new from the factory.

Now uninstall itunes and use winamp or something better to manage your ipod.

Dont forget to charge your new battery all the way.

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44 Discussions


3 months ago on Step 2

The screwdriver thing didn't work for me. I couldn't get it to stick to the end cap, so I used a wooden 'craft stick' (looks like a tongue depressor) and it gave me more than enough leverage to easily remove the end caps without prying or gouging the aluminum.


3 years ago

Just made this mod, using a Compact Flash to dual micro SD adapter, now my ipod mini 128gb, but i could expand it up to 256GB, and in future maybe more, since micro SD become bigger and cheaper very fast.

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

What adapter did you use? I bought a 128gb microsdcx but the adapter I got doesn't seem to work


2 years ago

Hey guys, I just attempted this on my 2nd Gen. Ipod Mini with a CF adapter and 128GB micro SDXC. Connected to itunes, it was recognized as a corrupted drive and I attempted to restore. After it looked like it finished, the folder/exclamation symbol popped up again on the Mini and the restore did nothing. No errors or anything, any ideas? This is the adapter I am using: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01F6VW9MO/ref=o...

I assume this just means that the adapter I got is not compatible but it says SDXC on it. Thanks!


4 years ago on Introduction

After my previous success doing this mod I tried to do the same for my girlfriend. Cue chaos. I bought a working ipod from ebay and another of the same Kingston 64GB CF cards from a different vendor. However, when I tried to install the ipod software from itunes after changing the cards it came up with the sad ipod face. Thinking this was maybe a faulty card I tried swapping the CF cards from my working moded ipod and the new, not working ipod over. As expected my original CF card in the 'new' ipod worked and the new CF card in my original ipod was showing the ipod sad face. I assumed the new CF card was faulty and sent it back for a refund before ordering another one from the original vendor.

When the new card arrived I put it in the 'new' ipod and tried to install the software again; no luck again. This time the folder with exclamation mark sign came up and when I plugged it in to the computer it came up as 'do not disconnect' but was not found by Itunes. I tried setting the ipod to 'disk mode', it went to disk mode but still couldn't be found. I tried plugging it in to my work computer instead of my mac, using device manager I found the ipod could be seen, but it was still not being picked up by itunes.

What I did next I will regret for a long time. I again tried swapping the hard drives in the 2 ipods to see what was causing the problem, this time both ipods now came up with the sad Ipod sign. I swapped them back and they both came up with the sad Ipod sign again. I tried the 4gb microdrive that came with my original 'working' ipod in the original ipod, this came up on itunes as usual.

Somehow the new ipod seems to have corrupted both the flash drives. This raises many questions, how did this happen? Why did this not happen the first time I tried swapping the hard drives over? Any ideas?

Also, if I bought a CF card reader, is there someway I can try to reset the cards to their factory settings? Thereby giving me a chance to redo the whole process for my original 'working' ipod and not wasting a hell of a lot of tim and money?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

3 replies

Reply 3 years ago

Hopefully, you haven't scrapped the mini since you posted.. See the note above, where it says you'll hit the 'Sad Mac' (so its kind of lost since it just got its memory wiped. -- from above) You should be able to re-init the drive with iTunes.. Another alternative, if you have a CF reader which can handle larger than 2GB capacity, you should be able to read/write the drive. The format I got, on a Linux machine, showed a 40MB Type-00 1st partition, followed by the rest of the 4GB as a Type-0B (W95 FAT-32 (Non-LBA)) format. Look to one of the memory manufacturers, to provide a formatter.. Found this on Kingston's website: http://www.kingston.com/us/support/technical/downloads?product=dthx30&filename=kingston_format_utility ... I haven't run it myself yet, but absolute worse case, You can also download a small live Linux image, (either to a CD or, (Ironic?) Flash-Stick, (But boot the flash stick 1st, before inserting the memory card.) and use the 'Disks' utility to review, wipe & format the drive. (which I actually would recommend more!) I'm about to bump my Mini to 32gb today. Just got a Transflash (Micro-SD) to CF adaptor card, and a brand spanking new SanDisk 32GB Micro-SDHC card. If iTunes on my Windows machine doesn't like it, I'll try copying images from the old MicroHD, to the SD card, and use the linux utility GParted to expand the FAT32 partition out. Hope the formatter above works?!


Reply 3 years ago

Just as a side-note, I ran into similar problems shortly after the Raspberry Pi mini computer card came out.. I accidentally corrupted the entire OS fo the device, and needed to wipe the card.. Except..... Windows-7 didn't see beyond the 16MB setup partition, to a 16GB EXT partition.. It took wiping the drive down under linux, deleting ALL partitions, before trying again.


Reply 3 years ago

And...... I stand with my foot firmly implanted in my mouth. I ran into the same problem too.. It seems Apple may be on to us, and pulling Microsoft's "Upgrade, or DIE" method. It took copying the image from the 1st partition of the microdrive, under linux... and copying the content of the 2nd partition to a folder on same machine. Instead of properly formatting the drive, iTunes simply wiped the VFAT partition, and left.... nothing.. I had to manually partition the new drive/flash RAM using fdisk & copying the raw image of the first partition (appears to be used as a Flash-ROM), and the files from the 2nd partition needed to be copied into the new 2nd partition. (Calenders, Contacts, iPod_Control, Notes, & System Volume Information)... Apparently, they also removed the ability to rename the device from iTunes, too.. It still sees it as the previous owner, despite renaming the partition.. On the plus side, despite needing to go total-geek on it, I now have a 32GB Mini, new battery, and still over 23GB of free space after syncing my music collection from iTunes under Windows, and Banshee player under Linux. Life is good! :)


5 years ago on Introduction

Done today with Sandisk Ultra 32 Gb in a 6Gb ipod mini.

Thanks for this great tuto !


7 years ago on Introduction

Sooooo - still watching this by any chance ?

Great instructable & thanks for posting.

Found a good deal on a 32 Gig DoLogix compact flash card on eBay [it purports to be ATA compatible...] and following your steps have managed to get into the 'pod, free up the World of Tape that some AppleTech gave free to secure the old [SeaGate!] 6 Gig in + upgrade the battery
still can't get iTunes to see the iPod... nor Device Manager... even though I tested the new battery and the old drive and the old battery installed in different configs to make certain I haven't damaged the 'pod...
perhaps it just doesn't "want" to be FrankenPod ?

lemme know if you've any other thoughts... I'm in process of UN & RE intalling iTunes just to see if something short of midnight live chicken killin' will solve this... perhaps fully charging the new battery WITH old drive ?

but shouldn't iTunes be able to power the device / charge the [any] battery ?

Peaxe & Thanks again for posting



8 years ago on Step 7

and what in case if my i-tunes does not recognize my modified ipod and exclamation icon keeps displaying. thx for possibly quick answer!

2 replies

Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

First check and make sure ifs showing up in device manager, to see if the computer is seeing it, if it is, its a software issue, play around in iTunes, etc, if it doesnt show up in device manager, then that is a hardware problem, possibly a damaged connector etc...


Reply 8 years ago on Step 7

Thanks for these tips. However, everything seems to be fine with the connector. E.g. Ipod seems to be charging by wall charger, so that, I assume it is ok. Then, my itunes still do not recognize the ipod, plus, it is not visible in device manager. I add, that I have already exchanged the battery for the new one, cause I had written before, that such problems could occur because of faulty working battery. Another interesting thing is, that while I switch the position of my flash card inserted in the ipod, it displays two different icons: sad ipod face, exclamation folder sign, or battery 1/3 charged without motion. Do you know what can do to fix it? Is there any other way out of this situation? Could it be the matter of lack of original apple software on the flash card? Please help..


So if the microdrive was wiped completely could it be used in place of a CF card, say in a camera, 32GB would be a big card to bother with on a camera and 4GB would be pretty handy, assuming you're doing this mod anyway it'd be a quick way to recycle it.

4 replies

The problem with these mini hard drives was that they were not very "action" ready shall we say. They frequently broke down due to too much motion. They probably wouldn't do much good in a camera.

hmm good point, it was just a passing notion... They've gotten alot better, my phone has an 8GB microdrive and it does well, the accelerometer will shut it off if you drop it but other than that it's great, pretty fast and extremely good when transferring files...

Hehe, back when microdrives were cheaper than flash... I have a 32 GB Micro SD, the size of my thumb. Tech is crazy...

Was in pricing up CF cards for my camera and it's just ridiculous how cheap storage has gotten, also annoying, CF cards are still twice the price of SD... Though when you can go in to the supermarket and get a 16gb flash drive with your shopping without it even being a big purchase...


8 years ago on Introduction

Awesome. The headphone jack on my iPod touch was recently broken by a drunken friend, so I think I'll do this just to keep in the car


9 years ago on Introduction

help, doesnt seem to be working for me.
Got everything back together, I get the sad face on the ipod, start iTunes to restore my ipod but now itunes doesnt recognise my iPOD so I cant restore it. One DEAD ipod :-(

I have tried all the Apple help, including putting it into 'disk mode', my PC recognises a USB device is attached (makes the correct sound and the LED on the USB port lights up), but it doesnt show in itunes nor in windows explorer

I used a 8GB SanDisk card, top quality, could that be it?? Are there any CF cards that are not compatible?

Anyone have any bright ideas of what I can try please?