Video RANT: Taking the (Sharp) Edge off the MacBook Pro

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Filing the Edge off a MacBook ProGod only knows how many times I’ve whined on Twitter about the sharp edge on my MacBook Pro right where your wrists rest while working on it. I swear to Buddha that after 15 minutes of working on this thing I have lines deep enough imprinted in my forearms to make people think I’m trying to slash my wrists! Furthermore, this laptop nearly makes me want to!!!

But tonight I’d had enough. After a marathon session of pain, I finally got off my lazy butt and did something about it. So, here is a video of me taking a file to my MacBook Pro and doing what Apple should have done long, long ago!


UPDATE
I’ve received numerous emails and phone calls from people asking me what type of files and clamps I used when shaving the sharp edge off of my Macbook. In order for me to get back to work and stop fielding questions, I decided to put the MacBook Pro Mod Shopping List together on Amazon.com showing exactly what will work. You can duplicate the results for about $12 worth of tools. So get to it folks! ;-)

If you want to do it yourself its actually quite easy. Just get a couple of clamps and gently attach your MacBook to a strong, stable surface. Then take a fine file to the edge and slowly begin removing material. After 10-20 strokes you’ll feel a world of difference in the edge of the device. Just make sure you don’t get the aluminum shavings in your finger. You do not want aluminum splinters!

Have fun, and feel free to ask questions.

EDIT: For those with comments and questions about this process.
For all those who are worried about removing the anodized finish, don’t. I did this a month ago, and there is no “black stuff”or any other sort of residual. (AKA – My sleeves aren’t dirty.)

You should know that I’m also a trained welder, blacksmith and bladesmith. I’ve got hunks of aluminum in my garage that I machine on my milling machine, cut on my CNC plasma cutting machine, and weld on my big ass Lincoln TIG welder. In other words, I’m experienced at working with Aluminum.

This tiny amount of filed area is not going to get exposed to a harsh environment because your laptop can’t take it! Plus, the oil from your skin rubbing in this are will actually keep that small area further protected.

Note that I used a file and did this by hand. That is because the file removes metal as shavings – not dust. I would highly NOT recommend doing this with sandpaper or another abrasive. As you can see from the video the shavings are too big to become airborne and can be swept right up. Also, there is no chance of any of them getting inside the computer.

Finally, turn your machine off. I ONLY left mine on so people would not think this was a hoax. YES, I really did this to my MBP. And yes, I can afford it if I broke it. So guess what, I took the risk so you don’t have to wonder if it can be done. Not the first time I’ve done something like this, nor will it be the last.

So, you’ve got two choices if your bothered by the sharp edge on your MacBook.

  1. Listen to the guy who did it and had zero negative consequences.
  2. Listen to people who did NOT do it, but who have a desperate need to sound like a metallurgist or some sort of authority despite their lack of hands on experience.

The only thing I’ll advise is that when you are filing be careful about brushing the shavings off with bare hands or you might end up with aluminum splinters. They are no fun. ;-)

Article Written by
John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    I never thought I’d do this, but today, I used your technique with an old “combination” file I had in my toolbox. It has 4 different levels of coarseness and I used the finest. It took quite a number of passes using the same technique you showed in the video. I then followed up with a Dremel tool and a cotton buffing wheel. I can not believe the difference… typing on this thing is now a dream. I should have done this back in 2011 when I first purchased this machine. So, thank you!

  2. John says:

    I did this to my white Macbook about in 2009 and never regretted it. You just gave me the motivation to go ahead and do it to my late 2011 17″ Macbook Pro. What a relief to have that stupid edge GONE!!
    THANKS!

  3. Much like how barbers used to use cow skin(leather) to sharpen their blades. Human skin has the same effect. Like slowly sharpening the corner of my macbook to the point that it actually cut my wrist! So I had it! I filed that corner down today and it feels SOOOO good. Soooo smooth. Funny how apple released unsharpened corners with their newer models. I guessed their designers did listen to you!

    • John P. says:

      hahaha!

      Well, I’m glad you fixed the problem! And hopefully we won’t have to do this with future generations…

      John P.

  4. Divyesh says:

    Thanks for this blog. Just did with my macbook pro now. Feeling so happy now that it stop hurting.

  5. Daniel says:

    Your problem is not the sharp edges, dude. Your problem is resting your wrists on your computer when you’re using it. This is precisely what you’re not supposed to do. Those sharp edges _should_ be there to remind you that you’re typing poorly.

    • John says:

      It’s not while typing that it is a problem. It happens while using the trackpad.

  6. Jorge says:

    I’ll stick with Windows, if owning a Mac damages one’s spelling and gramatical abilities as it has for all of you. Thanks.

  7. Kristina says:

    Bullshit! It makes your sleeves/hands black. You cant tell me that Im hallucinating etc :D If your so good with aluminium you should know that by fact. I wish you didnt misguide people like that and give a solution to this problem, aluminium expert as you are!

    • John P. says:

      Kristina,

      I don’t know what kind of manufacturing facility you were born in to get that foul mouth, or what kind of aluminum you played with as a child (sounds like the “lead” kind), but those of us in the civilized world who own MacBook Pros have the clean, processed kind.

      It’s now been over a year since I filed the edge off mine, and there has never been a single tiny, miniature, minuscule, detectable amount of residue from the edge.

      EVER.

      Let me see if I can be more clear. How about if I shout?

      FILING THE EDGE OFF YOUR MACBOOK PRO DOES NOT CREATE A SITUATION WHERE THE EDGE OXIDIZES AND LEAVES BLACK STUFF ANYWHERE!!!

      How about if I beg?

      Please baby. Daddy is telling you that you can do this and there won’t be no black stuff on your white parts.

      How about if I insult you?

      Listen you stupid, dirtbag, worthless sack of…

      Oh nevermind. If you don’t want to do it, DON’T! If the edge is bothering you, file it off. Your choice.

      Love,

      John P.

    • elizabeth says:

      you are tooooooooo funny and accurate!

  8. Jeff Gren says:

    I’ve had my Macbook Pro for only 6 months or so, but this was the one thing that drove me insane. Cutting my had every single time I used it. I’ve got a full woodshop, have done jewelry smithing and metalworking and had been thinking about this for awhile. I searched Macbook Pro edge one day on a whim and found this page. You pushed me over the edge, and I’m here to thank you for it! I didn’t document it, but just finished and it was smooth and painless (pun intended). Night and day improvement.

  9. Mason Pelt says:

    This has improved my life greatly. I love my MBP, but the edge is way to sharp. I swear the way I’ve been holding my wrists to keep from slashing them has given my carpal tunnel. I wish I’d seen this sonner.

  10. Mike says:

    John,

    Still no oxidation issues to date? If not, I’m taking the plunge!

    Thanks,
    Mike

    • John P. says:

      Hey Mike,

      There have been ZERO problems with it. I highly recommend that you give your wrists a break and file it down! Only takes a minute for a lifetime of happiness. hehehe

      John P.

  11. Jeff Zinn says:

    Click the link to see MY version of this fix!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5–lo-SJuw

    • John P. says:

      Glad you videoed it! I embedded your video in the post as well. Hope you are enjoying your newly smooth edge! There is a very small group of us who were brave enough to do it! ;-)

      John P.

  12. Jeff Zinn says:

    Thanks for this. Your shopping list link didn’t work for me. Can you just tell me the grit # of your files? Thanks

    • John P. says:

      Sorry I saw your question a little too late Jeff. But looks like you got the right thing anyway! ;-)

      John

  13. Mike R. says:

    LOL!!….this video is hilarious!

    i noticed the very sharp edges too and it has actually held me back from getting a new mbp. hopefully jobs & co. will change this flawed design in 2011!

  14. Michal says:

    Thankyou so much for posting this. My wrists feel relief the second I did this.

  15. Priya says:

    I JUST bought my MBP, two days back, and the edges were unbelievable!! For me the only problems were the two pointy edges right beneath the trackpad, and as soon as I saw your video I took out my nail filer and had a go at it… Feels SO much better now!!! Thanks a bunch!

  16. Art says:

    The sharp edge is one of the main reasons that I am a PC

  17. Gregor says:

    Great job John! Could you please post a close-up photo of the filed edge. Thank you!

  18. Taylor Walker says:

    Thank you for the video — you gave me the courage to do what I knew had to be done; I was so sick and tired of nicking my hands and thumbs on the sharp edges of the center divot. How Apple ever thought the sharp edges on this model were acceptable is beyond me. This is my fifth Apple laptop, and none of the previous designs had this insane adherence to form over function. It is frustrating that we are compelled to apply our handiwork with a metal file to rectify an obvious design flaw on a $3,000 machine.

  19. Lindsay says:

    THANK YOU. I just got the new MacBook Pro and I have a serious scratch on the heel of my hand from those goddamned pointy edges – did any industrial designers even TRY this laptop before releasing it to the public? I expect much, much better from Apple. 2500 dollars this thing cost me! And you can’t even use it anywhere near human flesh? Who was it built for – C3P0?
    Thanks again. I’m going to file mine down immediately.

  20. Stephen Sweriduk says:

    Sack up and do it. You won’t regret it. I just did it and i am so happy with the difference it has made. Just be patient and really nothing can go wrong. Loving the rounded edges. You’re a lifesaver John in the middle of finals week.

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