Tag Archives: Macintosh Repair

Blast From The Past: Want to Repair Your Own Mac? Don’t Bother.

This was an editorial that I wrote about 4 years ago! Here it is in all of its glory:


Want to Repair Your Own Mac? Don’t Bother.

A good portion of today’s Mac users are obviously switching from the Microsoft Windows world, and in their own time were used to many givens in that world. One of those givens was the ability to be able to literally rip open a PC and fix, tinker and repair your way to a working computer. I often hear of PC users replacing motherboards, modding cases, adding and subtracting hard drives and optical drives, but, I rarely ever hear a new iMac owner saying things like “Wow, I just replaced my logic board and upgraded the processor while I was in there for the fun of it,” or, “Boy, my 2 terabytes of hard drive space spread over my 4 hard drives really makes my Mac much better to work with.” The reason you don’t hear these statements coming from a Mac user is simply because Apple doesn’t want nor allow you to easily perform these types of upgrades or repairs on most Macintosh hardware.

Ever since the early days of the Macintosh, Apple has had a love-hate relationship with those users who have technical backgrounds enough to repair or upgrade their own machines. The stories call back to the days when there were fights within the early days of Apple as to whether to allow something as simple as a ram upgrade to be handled by the customer or, whether to even allow expansion slots in the early Macs. Often, the company won this battle owning to the fact that customers tinkering around inside machines could bring the said computer to its demise and hold the company responsible for any futher repair work. So, the expansion slots and various other upgrades just weren’t offered on most Macintoshes, and even to this day, repairing or upgrading your own Mac is often either impossible or very difficult compared to the average PC.

Most veteran Macintosh users are fairly savvy when it comes to upgrading or making simple repairs on their computers. For whatever reason, this concept seems to be lost on this select pool of users who could do these upgrades and repairs without having to bother the Apple service centers. Does Apple purposely design the computers to be impossible to work on for any specific reason? In the last five or more years, Apple has built its entire business on converting the masses from the PC world to the Macintosh world, however, one of the very reasons it can be useful to work on the PC is the fact that you can easily change out mostly any part you wish. I feel strongly that Apple has either lost sight of this fact, or, there’s an underlying reason as to why it’s just plain difficult (or next to impossible) to swap out any parts on a Mac, except ram.

Oddly enough, during the reign of the recent iMac G5’s (now discontinued, of course) Apple allowed full customer access to the innards of the computer for the very first time, other than previous pro-level G4 and G5 towers here and there. Even better, a customer could order replacement parts for the iMac right from Apple, including power supplies, optical drives, and even logic boards if you were so inclined to swap these out yourself. I thought that was a revolutionary step for Apple, allowing complete access to any part of the machine, and even encouraging you to attempt these repairs yourself with detailed guides to help you along. Unfortunately, almost as soon as it began, those particular iMacs were discontinued in favor of the newer iMacs which now included the integrated iSight cameras. Now if you have ever seen the take apart guides for the iSight iMac, you will be utterly amazed on how anti-repairable these machines are. You literally have to open the machine by jamming a credit card into the back ventilation slot to try to disengage the hidden tabs that may or may not even be reachable. This can take upwards of at least ten minutes just to get the back case off. Then, you have to remove hidden screws around the display to get to the guts of the machine without damaging the video cables first. Now, on a similarly-equipped PC, a simple hard drive swap would take you roughly five to ten minutes, not counting the Windows installation. As I mentioned, it can take ten to fifteen minutes just to get the back case of these iMacs off!

Apple needs to make this the final nail in the coffin of trying to get the masses to move to the Macintosh; simple repairs. I don’t want to have to take my machine to the repair center every time a logic board or hard drive blows apart and I’m sure PC users feel the same. Allow the users to get in and get their hands dirty with repairs or upgrades; if they damage anything then they can be responsible for it. Chances are, if they damage something, given easy access, they can simply repair it themselves instead of being blamed by Apple that they broke it while tinkering around inside the machine. At the very least, allow the users access to the main components such as the hard drive and optical drives with easy to access panels. This would cut down useless trips to the service centers, which are clogged up with repairs that could easily be attempted by the more savvy users who aren’t afraid of the screwdriver.


Going somewhere? Make sure your Macintosh laptop doesn’t get stolen!

Traveling is a big part of being either a business professional, seasonal traveler, or, even a college student. Unfortunately, when you are out and about, this is the best time for computer theft. It literally only takes a second while you are in a rest room or at the counter getting a cup of coffee for that $1,000+ computer to simply vanish, only to show up on eBay someday. Apple used to include a special locking slot on all of their laptops, which would allow you to buy a Kensington locking kit which looked like this. However, it seems like Apple has dropped this trend and a lot of today’s Macbook models no longer have this important locking slot. Fortunately for you, this is not really an issue anymore!

There are still various options to get that laptop locked up when you are at the library or the coffee shop and I’m going to introduce you to a product from Kensington, which is an aftermarket locking kit for your Macbook, Macbook Air, or, any computer or tablet that doesn’t feature a locking slot. This simple $25 kit will allow you to add a locking mechanism easily and cheaply to any Macbook that does not have the necessary slot built-in. Check it out and purchase this amazing device on Amazon by clicking here. This is a great idea for a college gift!

Tired of replacing batteries in your Apple wireless keyboard? It’s time to go solar!

solar keyboard for macWhen I first got my iMac, it came with a sweet Apple wireless keyboard. I couldn’t believe the freedom that a wireless keyboard could bring. However, I noticed something very interesting after a few weeks with the keyboard–it sucked down batteries like nobody’s business! I’m obviously a heavy Macintosh user and I’m on my computer most of the day and night–and this was not going to cut it for me!

What I found was probably one of the best inventions of all time in my Macintosh lifetime–the Logitech Solar Keyboard for the Mac! This amazing keyboard looks like the original Macintosh keyboard (and it comes in other colors as well!) and it completely runs on solar power–no joke. You simply plug in a small USB dongle into your computer and away you go–the keyboard simply uses any light–not just the sun–to recharge itself while you work. There are no batteries and no hassles! I’ve used this keyboard for a few years and it’s been one of the best sub-100 dollar inventions I have ever used. I’m sure Apple will eventually move to this solar technology on future keyboards!

Purchase the Logitech Solar Keyboard for the Mac from Amazon and help Capital Mac make a small commission with that click!

No Power Macbook Pro

Your Macintosh Just Died. Purchase a new Mac or repair your current model?

Capital Mac Repair of Saratoga

It may be time to replace that Macintosh.

After 6 years, your trusty old iMac has finally bitten the dust. Capital Mac just told you that to repair this iMac, it will cost you about $500 for a new logic board. Do you replace the computer or repair it? That’s a tough choice for some people and Capital Mac founder, Mark H. Delfs, is here with some advice.

“If the computer is in the 2-3 year range, it’s most likely repairable, but only if you keep it $300 or less. If it’s between 4 and 6 years, it’s most likely not worth repairing if the quote goes over $150-200. It’s simply not worth the investment for a computer that will not be performing anywhere close to the computer you would buy today,” Delfs says.

The general trend is to keep today’s computers for anywhere between 3-4 years and then sell them on eBay or hand down to family members. By that time, most of the software will want to be upgraded as well as the RAM memory and hard drive. Take the money out of the computer rather than putting it into a computerized black hole.

Why is my Macintosh booting to a gray screen all of a sudden?

Booting to OS X Gray Screen“I woke up today to turn my computer on and it’s now booting to nothing but either a gray screen, or, a gray screen with the Apple logo and a loading bar at the bottom of the screen.”

During my time with Apple, this was something I heard about umpteen times a day. What it usually means is either a failed hard drive, hard drive cable, or, directory damage that is stopping the unit from booting. Rarely, it’s a problem with the operating system, but, usually it’s one of the first 3. Read more below the fold!
An easy way to check this out is to force reboot the computer and hold down these 2 keys: COMMAND and the S keys simultaneously, which puts the computer into a mode called “Single User Mode.” This mode will cause the screen to turn black and display a whole bunch of white text, similar to an old DOS computer. When you see this text, you can let go of the keys. At the end of this stream of text, you will eventually get a prompt where you can type on the keyboard. Type this line of text just as you see it, with the spaces between:

fsck -y -f

Hit return on the keyboard and wait. Eventually, it’s going to either pass or fail–if it fails, you will see something that states the Macintosh HD could not be repaired, or maybe disk I/O error in that text. If it fails with either of these faults, you will most likely have to either erase the hard drive, or, replace the hard drive and cable. What you are seeing is directory damage, which can happen to anyone at anytime for any reason and it will prevent the computer from booting. Sometimes, the directory damage will be small and the built-in utility can repair it enough to get you on your way. Otherwise, you would need a higher strength disk utility such as DiskWarrior.

If you are nervous about doing any of this on your own, it’s Capital Mac to the rescue! Contact us for any types of gray screen or stuck at the Apple logo that you may experience on your Macintosh. We’re here to help!