How to

Upgrade Your 13-inch MacBook Pro with an SSD

upgrade your 2009-2012 13-inch MacBook Pro with an SSD
Written by Hassan Abbas

There is much pre-Retina Display having 13-inch MacBook Pros still in service. If you have one and you’re searching to get some more bang for your oppose. It’s possible to upgrade them while making them much faster than they ever were from the factory. One of the best performance upgrades is to replace the stock hard disk drive with an SSD.

Mac Models:

Here’s a list of the specific Mac models that this SSD installation tutorial is applicable to:

MacBook Pro 13-inch:
  • Mid 2012
  • Late 2011
  • Early 2011
  • Mid 2010
  • Mid 2009

While the specifications are quite different, the actual architecture is similar when it comes to taking them apart and upgrading them. Any 2.5-inch SSD with a SATA interface should be a plug-and-play replacement for the hard drive that came with your Mac.

If your Mac is running with the same spinning hard disk drive (HDD) then its time to replace it. Solid State Drives (SSDs) have come way down in price over the last few years. But now it’s so economical to replace the 2.5-inch factory-installed HDD with an SSD.

  • What you’ll need
  • Back up your MacBook Pro
  • Format the SSD and transfer files
  • Remove the hard drive
  • Install the MacBook Pro SSD
  • Troubleshooting
  • Upgrade your MacBook Pro RAM too
What you’ll need:

For upgradation you’re going to need a few things:

  • A 2.5-inch SATA SSD
  • A SATA to USB cable or a USB dock
  • PH-000 screwdriver to open your MacBook Pro and a T6 Torx head screwdriver to disassemble the hard drive assembly, standard issue for many MacBook Pro Repair Kits like this one.

Once you collected the hardware and tools you need, you can start with the upgrade.

Back up your MacBook Pro

Before you get started to make sure back up your MacBook Pro. Apple’s Time Machine software is one relatively easy method to go with. Time Machine backups can also be used to restore the contents of your Mac onto the new hard drive relatively easily.

Format the SSD and transfer files

First, connect the SSD to your Mac using the SATA to USB cable.

Step 1:

Firstly, Open the Utility folder on your Mac.

Step 2:

Then Open Disk Utility.

Step 3:

Now Click on the SSD icon. Then tap the Erase button. Make sure format should be APFS for macOS 10.14 “Mojave” or newer, Mac OS Extended (Journaled) otherwise. The scheme should be GUID Parition Map. Click Erase.

Step 4:

Power off your MacBook Pro, then restarts it holding down the Command key. Boot into the Mac’s Recovery disk.

Step 5:

Click on Reinstall macOS X. Select your SSD drive as the destination.

Sep 6:

Once it completes, you’ll be prompted to restore files from another hard drive. Select your currently installed hard drive as the source. This will take some time.

Once this is done, your new SSD has all the files of your old hard disk. Shut your Mac down. Let’s get to replacing the old hardware.

Remove the hard drive

Step 1:

First, power off and Unplug the MacBook Pro from its power adapter. Then flip your laptop upside down on a flat, well-lit surface.

Step 2:

Now Locate and remove the 10 screws that hold the bottom case to the MacBook Pro using the Philips PH000 screwdriver. Put the screws in a container or use a non-skid mat and lay them out in the same configuration you removed them. Remember some screws near the hinge are longer than the other screws. They’ll only fit in those holes.

Step 3:

Now remove the cover. Discharge static electricity that may have built up by touching a metal part inside the MacBook Pro. Make sure the hard drive is located in the lower left-hand corner. It is held in place by a plastic bracket connected with two screws. Unscrew the plastic bracket and set it aside.

Step 4:

Now remove the hard disk drive carefully. Disconnect the SATA data cable by gently fluttering it free. Don’t pull or tear on the cable.

Step 5:

There are 4 screws on the drive which hold it in place in the bracket and the MacBook Pro’s chassis. Now remove these using the Torx screwdriver in your toolkit. Attach them to the new SSD drive.

Good job! We’re half-way there.

Install the MacBook Pro SSD

Installing the SSD is exactly the opposite operation that you just remove the hard drive.

Step 1:

Slowly attach the SATA cable to the SSD and lower it back into place inside the MacBook Pro.

13-inch MacBook Pro SSD

Step 2:

Now screw the plastic bracket back into place to affix the hard drive.

Step 3:

Place the cover back on the bottom of the MacBook Pro, and reconnect the ten screws you removed earlier.

That’s it! Your SSD should now be ready to use. Now comes the moment of truth! Power up your MacBook Pro. If everything has gone well, it should boot up with the same familiar startup you’re used to – only much faster, thanks to your new SSD.


Make sure if the screen is still black, or it lightens up but never completes the boot sequence, something must have happened. What went wrong? Follow these guidelines for some practical troubleshooting steps.

Check connections

You’ve just moved a new SSD mechanism in place of the existing hard disk drive. Something went wrong during that process.

Use Recovery Mode

Turn on your Mac and hold down the command and R keys. This will activate Recovery Mode. Try running Disk Utility, and run First Aid to see if it can find any problems to repair or not.

Boot off your hard disk

Simply remove your hard disk, which is still working and try connecting the SATA to USB cable you used to format and transfer data to the new MacBook Pro SSD to that, instead. With the Mac turned off, connect the hard drive using the open USB port on your MacBook Pro. Now Turn on the MacBook Pro and quickly hold down the Option key. Choose the hard disk, and boot off of it. Make sure it’ll be a bit slower than it was before because you’re using USB instead of SATA. But you can try running Disk Utility from there to see if there’s something went wrong with the SSD, or if the data transfer didn’t complete.

Supposing everything went well, I have one another suggestion for you to help keep your MacBook Pro going strong.

Upgrade your MacBook Pro RAM too

Simply replacing your hard drive with an SSD will boost its performance. Another thing is that since you have to take the bottom case off anyway, is to upgrade the RAM. Mostly older MacBooks are running 4GB or less. But can be upgraded to 8, or in some cases, like 2012, 16 GB.

Between more RAM and SSD, you’ll have a 13-inch MacBook Pro that boots in seconds, launch apps, and can handle bigger data files than ever before.


Hopefully, our guide is helpful. Do you have any questions or need more help? Let us know in the comment section below!

Also Read: Little11 Augments older iPhones with Modern Gestures & Features

About the author

Hassan Abbas

Tech enthusiast with too many items on his wish-list and not nearly enough money! Specializing in all things tech, with a slight Apple bent he has been writing for various blogs for the best part of (too many) years

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