How to: MacBook Air SSD Storage Replacement and Upgrade


Instructions at the end of the page.


MacBook Air’s SSD is easily exchangeable for a bigger and faster model. Three options exist at the moment:

  • a used or new original SSD from Apple (expensive, rare)
  • a replica from OWC or Transcend (relatively expensive, not the fastest option)
  • use of a standard SSD (good value, very fast)

We show you suitable combinations of MacBook, adapter and SSD and tell you some things about it. You do not have to be afraid: the little plugs only adapt the pins mechanically. Apple tries to keep a bit incompatibility as always, to avoid cheap storage. This you can avoid by using an adapter: controller, protocol and SSD storage stay untouched. The use is simple: Just plug them between the socket and the SSD. Together with an adapter, a M.2 SSD is exactly the same size as Apple’s original SSD. No further changes are needed, and everything is reversible if necessary.



Early 2014, Early 2015

Suitable SSDs

MacBook Air from 2013 is upgradeable (also the ones on sale right now) via solutions from OWC or by using Kingston’s HyperX Predator M.2 SSD with adapter. The latter is significantly faster and better value.

If you would like to use the Kingston SSD, this is the necessary adapter.

This solution is only works for MacBook Air 13″. Users of the 11″ model have to choose OWC’s SSDs.

HyperX PredatorPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link   
240 GB1551400/600M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 240 GB
480 GB3001400/1000M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 480 GB
960 GB4901350/1000M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 960 GB

OWC AuraPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
240 GB-712/301not necessaryn/a
480 GB500763/446not necessaryOWC 480 GB
960 GB680763/446not necessaryn/a



MacBook Air Mid 2013

Suitable SSDs

MacBook Air from 2013 is upgradeable (also the ones on sale right now) via solutions from OWC or by using Kingston’s HyperX Predator M.2 SSD with adapter. The latter is significantly faster and better value.

If you would like to use the Kingston SSD, this is the necessary adapter.

This solution is only works for MacBook Air 13″. Users of the 11″ model have to choose OWC’s SSDs.

HyperX PredatorPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link   
240 GB1551400/600M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 240 GB
480 GB3001400/1000M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 480 GB
960 GB4901350/1000M.2 to Apple 2013+Kingston 960 GB

OWC AuraPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
240 GB-712/301not necessaryn/a
480 GB500763/446not necessaryOWC 480 GB
960 GB680763/446not necessaryn/a


MacBook Air Mid 2012

Suitable SSDs

Upgrading MacBook Air 2012 is very good value. The SATA SSDs are cheaper than its newer PCIe counterparts, and therefore big capacities are not that expensive. We again linked to the correct adapter and a few SSDs we think are excellent. In general, all M.2 SATA SSDs in the 2280 format (22mm wide, 80mm long) should fit together with the mentioned adapter.

SSDs 250 GBPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Samsung 850 Evo95540/500M.2 to Air 2012Samsung 250 GB
Sandisk X40095540/520M.2 to Air 2012
Sandisk X400 256 GB
Crucial MX30085530/510M.2 to Air 2012Crucial MX300 275 GB
Transcend MTS800105560/300M.2 to Air 2012Transcend 256 GB
OWC Aura Pro130500/500not necessaryOWC 240 GB
Transcend JetDrive 520170540/290 not necessaryJetDrive 240 GB

SSDs 500 GBPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Samsung 850 EVO165540/500M.2 to Air 2012Samsung 500 GB
Sandisk X400150540/520M.2 to Air 2012
Sandisk X400 512 GB
Crucial MX300130530/510M.2 to Air 2012Crucial MX300 525 GB
Transcend MTS800210560/310M.2 to Air 2012Transcend 512 GB
OWC Aura Pro230500/500not necessaryOWC 240 GB
Transcend JetDrive 520280500/430 not necessaryJetDrive 480 GB

SSDs 1 TBPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Samsung 850 EVO310540/500M.2 to Air 2012Samsung 1 TB
Sandisk X400300545/520M.2 to Air 2012
Sandisk X400 1 TB
Crucial MX300270530/510M.2 to Air 2012Crucial MX300 1 TB
Transcend MTS800380560/300M.2 to Air 2012Transcend 1 TB
Transcend JetDrive 520500500/430 not necessaryJetDrive 960 GB

OWC’s and Transcend’s solution don’t need an adapter, they are quite more expensive though.

For users of a MacBook 2012 or older is a huge amount of storage very cost effective.



MacBook Air Late 2010, Mid 2011

Suitable SSDs

MacBook Air from 2010 and 2011 do use the same SATA SSDs as the 2012 model does. The adapter though is slightly different, as Apple changed the SSD slot a bit. That is no problem, however, as we linked to the right one in the table.

SSDs 250 GBPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Samsung 850 EVO95540/500M.2 to Air 2010,11Samsung 250 GB
Sandisk X40095540/520M.2 to Air 2010,11Sandisk X400 256 GB
Crucial MX30085530/510M.2 to Air 2010,11Crucial MX300 275 GB
Transcend MTS800105560/300M.2 to Air 2010,11Transcend 256 GB
OWC Aura Pro130500/500not necessaryOWC 240 GB
Transcend JetDrive 520170540/290 not necessaryJetDrive 240 GB

SSDs 500 GBPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Samsung 850 EVO165540/500M.2 to Air 2010,11Samsung 500 GB
Sandisk X400150540/520M.2 to Air 2010,11Sandisk X400 512 GB
Crucial MX300130530/510M.2 to Air 2010,11Crucial MX300 525 GB
Transcend MTS800210560/310M.2 to Air 2010,11Transcend 512 GB
OWC Aura Pro230500/500not necessaryOWC 480 GB
Transcend JetDrive 520300500/430 not necessaryJetDrive 480 GB

SSDs 1 TBPrice US-$Speed MB/sAdapterAmazon Link
Samsung 850 EVO310540/500M.2 to Air 2010,11Samsung 1 TB
Sandisk X400300545/520M.2 to Air 2010,11Sandisk X400 1 TB
Crucial MX300270530/510M.2 to Air 2010,11Crucial MX300 1 TB
Transcend MTS800380560/300M.2 to Air 2010,11Transcend 1 TB
Transcend JetDrive 520500500/430 not necessaryJetDrive 960 GB

OWC’s and Transcend’s solutions do not need an adapter piece, they are more expensive though. The little mechanical helper makes sense in any case.

MacBook Air from 2010 and 2011 are still great work devices. SSD storage was extremely expensive back in the day, not is the time to upgrade. For installation, you just need to fit the adapter between the slot on the logicboard and the SSD.








Instruction for Upgrading your MacBook Air

Not only is a backup a basic obligation when upgrading your Mac, it should be an everyday task to help prevent loss of your important data. If you are exchaning a still functioning SSD for a new one, a bit of preparation makes the life a lot easier.

Always important:

Unplug the device and remove the power supply!

We don’t wanna get in contact with electricity and safety is always first.


Option 1: Data Migration via Internet Recovery und Time Machine Backup

OS X Utilities

This Option is the easiest, but you’ll need a fast internet connection, a bit of patience and a new Mac that is capable of Internet Recovery. Is your machine from 2009 or older, this option does not exist for you. Users of 2010 and 2011 Mac can update their Firmware first. Newer Macs are all capable of Internet Recovery.

If you decide for this option, you just fit the new SSD like in the instructions below and then start the Mac white holding cmd + alt + R. Internet Recovery starts and you can install macOS on your newly installed SSD. After that, you get your data back via your Time Machine backup.










Option 2: Bootable macOS und Time Machine

OS X Bootlaufwerke

If your Mac is too old for Internet Recovery or your internet connection is way to slow it can be more helpful to make a bootable medium, like a USB Stick or SD card first. With that, you can download everything first and when you start installing, the installer starts immediately from the bootable medium.

If you have a bootable USB stick for example, you plug it in, after you installed your new SSD. When you switch it on for the first time, press the alt-key. This shortcut lists all your possible boot devices. Choose your installation medium. Before you start installing macOS, it can be necessary to format the drive first via Disk Utility.

During the installation of macOS you will get the chance to play back your saved data from Time Machine.










Option 3: Clone your drive first

Disc Utility

This option is for all those who want to invest the time for copying date before changing the drive. When you would like to do that, please be aware that you will need an external USB enclosure for your M.2 SSD (or other format that you decide to buy).

After connecting it to the Mac you need to first format it via Disc Utility. You find it in Programs > Utilities > Disk Utility. The correct format is “Mac OS Extended Journaled”.

Then, you can clone your internal SSD 1:1 onto the external new one, which will soon change places. Programs for this task are Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper.










Instructions for assembling a new SSD in a MacBook Air

First thing you do before accessing the internal SSD is removing all the screws from the underside of the MacBook. Don’t be too afraid: they are only a few and it really is easy. You will need the following two screwdrivers for the upgrade process:

The good thing is, that the adapters mentioned above should come with these two screw drivers. So you can start right away. The Pentalobe one for the external screws looks like a five point star, the Torx one for the SSD like a six point star.

Tip: Make a little drawing on paper to remember the screws positions on the MacBook. They may have different lengths, and this makes it easer to build everything back together.

After you removed all the screws, just take the backplate off. you will now see the inner construction of the machine. The fist step to do is to disconnect the battery. Pull on the transparent plastic handle on the left side to do that.


Replace your SSD drive for the new one.

The actual SSD replacement is more than simple: unscrew the one screw holding in the original SSD place.


Just use the Torx screwdriver and then pull the original SSD carefully out of its socket.

Perfect! You can now use it otherwise. Now assemble the adapter: push it into the socket parallel to the logicboard. If it is positioned correctly, push it in with a little bit of force, until it connects fully with the metal part (see pictures).

This was the whole preparation for fitting a normal M.2 SSD. The following step is the same as it would be when you would like to fit an original Apple drive: just fit the SSD. When using the short adapters it is helpful to plug in the drive in a 45 degree angle and then press it down. This is true for MacBook models from 2013 and younger.

If you have a machine from 2010 – 2012 the adapers are a bit longer. In this case, move the SSD almost parallel to the logicboard into place.

Now refit the single screw. It should be very easy, as the little gap at the end of the SSD should fit perfectly over the screws socket. If that is not the case, double check. Maybe the adapter or drive is not pushed deep enough into the socket.

Done! Don’t forget to reconnect the battery:

Now you can reassemble the bottom case and screw on the Pentalobe screws. They should go in easily and only at the end tighten. If they go in heavily, remove them and try to fit them with a bit of an angle.

Here is a video with the whole process showing the installation of a Transcend drive. If you have decided for the adapter solution, just add that bit during assembly:


The mechanical part of your SSD installation is now done.





First Boot, Formatting the new SSD

Not is the time to boot your MacBook for the first time and format the new drive (unless you have cloned the data before, see above). So you start the machine and while the chime sounds, you press alt + cmd + R for Internet Recovery or just alt if you have prepared a bootable drive to start from. In any case, you will find yourself in the menu for the OS X/macOS Utilities. The fist option to choose is the Disk Utiliy:

There you can find the new drive. Click on it on the left side and then choose “Erase”. If you have an older Mac it looks like this:

Newer machines do show the following design:

For a name you can use the classic “Macintosh HD”. Filesystem must be “macOS Extended (Journaled) and scheme should be “GUID Partition Map”. After a short period of time, the formatting should be done.

Now the new drive is usable. Close Disk Utility and begin installation of OS X or macOS or recover your data via a Time Machine backup.

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