Replacing the hard disk drive of an Apple PowerBook G4

In June 2006, the hard disk of my Apple PowerBook G4 (12" screen, 2003 vintage) fatally crashed. Rather than spending a considerable amount of money to have an authorized Apple service center to replace the crashed disk, I decided to replace it myself, as the warranty anyway is by long expired.

Admittedly, the 12" version of the PowerBook is probably one of the trickier models of their product line as it comes to disassembly, mainly due to the chosen solutions to achieve a compact machine. Several of the components are in addition to screws fixed with adhesive tape, which in the disassembly sometimes makes it tricky trying to figure out whether to apply more force or to look again for something more to remove. However, with some care there is nothing to fear.

A word of advice: Many of the screws holding the machine together are tiny. I really mean it, tiny. Therefore, it is a good practice to put the screws resulting from the various steps of the disassembly into separate plastic bags, preferentially marked "Step 8", "Step 9", etc. This to avoid a situation where you desperately search the floor for parts being just a few millimetres in size. Also, it is a good idea to use a fresh set of good-quality watch-maker screwdrivers for the entire operation, as few things are as irritating as damaged screws which are stuck in place. (In addition, damaged screws look ugly.)

So, with the preliminaries out of the way, let's get started.

Part I: Removing the keyboard

Part II: Removing the top cover

Part III: Removing the hard disk drive

Part IV: A few notes on the design of the PowerBook G4

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Last modified Wednesday 15 Feb 2023