If you want to upgrade the storage or memory on a MacBook Pro — or sell, buy, or repair a MacBook or MacBook Air — you need to know which MacBook Pro model you have. Don’t worry, though, learning how to identify your MacBook is easy.
The fastest option is to simply choose “About This Mac” from the (Apple) menu in the upper left corner of your MacBook, MacBook Air, or in the case of the illustration, a MacBook Pro.
The resulting pop-up window will tell you what version of OS X you’re running, as well as note your processor and amount of memory and type. This might be handy, but what you’re really after is the generation of MacBook Pro, which you can find by clicking on the “More Info…” button.
Right under the big MacBook Pro text, you’ll see something like, “15-inch, Mid 2012.” This simple little phrase is your key to figuring out which upgrade components are compatible for storage, and in some cases, which memory modules you can buy.
“15-inch” refers to the screen size, which is how Apple identifies its MacBooks and iMacs. The date — “Mid 2012” — will be the general timeframe in which Apple released the MacBook Pro model. You could have variations like Early 2011 or Late 2013.
A MacBook Pro with a Retina display will usually appear as something like, “Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013,” while the full Mac “model” can look something like this: MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013).
If you click on “System Report…” on the “About This Mac” pop-up window, you’ll see that your Model Identifier is something like “MacBookPro9,1.” The Model Number will be something like MGX72xx/A. The two “xx” characters before the slash will vary by country, but the basic model or Apple part number will remain the same. For example, a MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014) might have a model number of MGX72xx/A for the version that shipped with 128GB of flash storage while the model with model number MGX92xx/A shipped with 512GB of flash storage.
If you’re buying a MacBook Pro or Air online, either via a retail channel or via ebay or buying a used MacBook from some guy off of craigslist, this information will tell you what’s inside the MacBook Pro and if it has the specifications you need. For instance, the memory in a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro with Retina display is not upgradable, so it’s good to know if you’re buying a system that is locked into just 4GB of memory or if it has 8GB of memory or more (see also, “Is 4GB of Memory Enough for a MacBook Air?“).
How to Use a MacBook Pro Model to Determine Your Upgrade Components
If you want to install a new flash-based solid-state drive (SSD) in your MacBook Pro, most third-party drive manufacturers will identify the correct storage module by saying which model of MacBook Pro it fits, usually identified in this sort of format: MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2013). If you know the screen size, the timeframe it was introduced, and whether it has a Retina display . . . you have the key information you need to find the right storage, case, or replacement part.
This same scenario also works for MacBook Air as well as iMacs. The Mac mini is similar, of course, but does not have a screen size because it doesn’t have a screen.
What If Your MacBook Pro Won’t Power On?
If you know the serial number of your Mac, you can also identity its model by using one of two different Apple web site pages:
Both pages have search fields that will let you drop in a serial number and search to find out more about your Mac model. Most newer aluminum MacBooks have the serial numbers written on the bottom in tiny print.