There is a cool alternative way you can easily add up to 128GB of storage to your MacBook Air or Pro — without cracking the case and installing a new SSD flash drive, without buying a bulky external hard drive, and without jamming a USB thumb drive into the side of your MacBook. The alternative method?

A Transcend JetDrive Lite Storage Expansion Card.

Designed to fit into the SDXC card slot, which is usually used for loading photos into your Mac from a camera, the tiny little drive is specially made to fit flush inside the SDXC slot, giving you extra storage space in a form factor that works perfectly with your 13-inch MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with Retina display (the 11-inch MacBook Air does not have an SDXC slot).

transcend jetdrive lite

The Transcend JetDrive Lite lets you add a flush-fitting drive to your MacBook Air or Pro’s SD card slot.

A 128GB card, for example, can hold 62,000 high resolution photos, 32,000 mp3 songs, or 32 hours of Full HD quality video.

If your 128GB MacBook Air or MacBook Pro is running out of space, a Transcend JetDrive Lite Storage Expansion Card is flat out the easiest, fastest, and most cost-effective solution I’ve seen yet.

The maximum read speed is 95MB/s, which will be slower than the flash drive that’s in your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with Retina display, but typically faster than most traditional hard drives. The maximum read speed is 60MB/s. What does this really mean? If you’re actively working with a large file — like editing a movie — you might want to make sure that your movie files are on your MacBook’s main drive for best performance.

Offload Large Files to the JetDrive Lite

That said, this new light drive option will let you add storage to offload all sorts of photos, video, and documents, freeing up your primary drive. The Transcend JetDrive Lite Storage Expansion Card will show up on your desktop like an external drive. If, for instance, your iTunes library is full of movies, TV shows, and songs, you can move it to the expansion card, which is what I would do first to free up a large mount of space. Why? In addition to gaining a big win over your storage problem, nearly all of you iTunes media is likely purchased from Apple, which means if there is ever any problem with the drive, you can easily download your purchased movies, video, and songs again from Apple at no charge.

In addition to moving large files to the drive, you can use it as a complete backup to your internal 128GB drive, but since you’re reading this, you probably need the free space more than a skinny on-board backup solution. Note: Just use a good external drive or thumb drive for your backups and store it somewhere safe.

Once you have the JetDrive Lite, you’ll want to use Disk Utility on your Mac to reformat the drive to Mac OS Extended. One last tip: Because the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with Retina display models have slightly different SDXC card slot depths, you’ll need to choose the correct JetDrive Lite to fit your particular MacBook.

And one last hint: If you think you might rather just install an internal SSD drive to increase storage capacity, here’s some help on how to get that done for MacBook Air and for MacBook Pro with Retina displays.

Get the Transcend JetDrive Lite:

  • JetDrive Lite 130 for 13-inch MacBook Air, 64GB or 128GB
    (Late 2010 – Early 2014 models)
  • JetDrive Lite 330 for 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina, 64GB or 128GB
    (Late 2012 – Mid 2014 models)
  • JetDrive Lite 350 for 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina, 64GB or 128GB
    (Mid 2012 – Early 2013 models)
  • JetDrive Lite 360 for 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina, 64GB or 128GB
    (Late 2013 – Mid 2014 models)

Note: There are some alternate options for this class of SD card slot drive for MacBooks: The PNY StorEDGE, which sits nearly flush (but not flush), or the Nifty MiniDrive, which sits flush but requires a separate purchase of a microSD card to get the storage you need.

About the author

Chris Maxcer

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I've been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and I still remember the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. I'm a big fan of elegant gear and great tech, but there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. Online I like to call out cool stuff on Wicked Cool Bite and blog with my buddies at Man Makes Fire. To catch me, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at the url of this site.