How to Expand MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air Storage

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How to Expand MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air Storage

I hear variations of “How can I get more storage space on my MacBook Air?” and “I’m out of room on my MacBook Pro Retina” all the time. Until recently, all we could do was delete files from the disk in order to free up space. Now, however, we have options.

Option Number 1: Transcend JetDrive Lite

Many MacBook Airs and all MacBook Pro Retinas come with an SDXC card slot on the side. It’s there so you can take the card out of your camera and stick it right into the laptop for transferring photos to the Mac. Turns out almost nobody uses that slot, so it’s just sitting there doing nothing… until now. Transcend makes a product called the JetDrive Lite in 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB sizes, and all you do is pop it into that unused SDXC card slot, instantly increasing the storage capacity of the machine.

The JetDrive Lite is designed to fit absolutely flush with your laptop rather than stick out a little, like a normal SDXC card would, and since the various Apple laptop models use different SDXC slots it is important to get the card that’s made for your machine. That’s not hard: just go to the Apple menu, then About This Mac, and then More Info. You’ll see your model’s official name there.

Armed with the model number, visit Transcend’s website and choose the proper model for your laptop. They have JetDrive Lites for MacBook Airs from 2010 to 2015, and MacBook Pro Retinas from 2012 TO 2015. That pretty much covers it!

Note: the space provided by the JetDrive Lite is separate from the space on the original Solid State Drive (SSD). So, if you have a 256 GB SSD, and you add a 128 JetDrive Lite, you don’t end up with a 384 GB drive. Instead, you’ll have a second hard drive (128 GB) in addition to your original 256.

Remember: dragging a file from one disk to another does not move it– rather, it duplicates it. So, as you drag things onto your JetDrive Lite card, remember to delete them from their original locations (unless you want duplicates).

Thrill-seeking advanced users can back up their entire hard disks and then use Disk Utility to create a single partition from the combined internal disk and the JetDrive Lite, and then copy everything back, but this makes it impossible to use the SDXC slot for anything else since that card has to stay in if the machine is going to work properly.

My recommendation: keep the card as a separate disk. That way, you can still pull the card out and use the slot for importing pictures from a camera if you ever feel like doing that. Plus, the card is slower than the SSD, so it makes sense to put rarely-used files on the card, leaving the system and application and frequently-used files on the SSD.

Option Number 2: Transcend JetDrive

The very easy way to upgrade MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air storage involves sticking a card into the SDXC slot. That was the “JetDrive Lite” described above. The less-easy way, but perhaps better-for-you-in-the-long-run way, is to take out the original too-small SSD and replace it with something bigger- namely, the “JetDrive” (without the “Lite”). This requires opening up the case but that’s not all that hard, and Transcend has a great video that shows you how it’s done

The JetDrive comes in 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB models, and as with the Lite cards you have to get the right one. Use Transcend’s website to figure out which one’s right for your machine

Bonus: Transcend includes an enclosure for your old SSD, so you end up with the new, larger SSD inside the laptop and your old, smaller SSD in a case that you can use as an external hard disk. Nice.

Long-time Mac hardware company Other World Computing has an internal SSD upgrade for the late 2013, 2014, and 2015 MacBook Pro with Retina Display. This is the first upgrade available for those machines. Find Other World Computing online at http://macsales.com. Find Transcend’s website at http://www.transcend-info.com/apple/jetdrivelite/.

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