The case of the cracking MacBooks - Macenstein

The case of the cracking MacBooks

Posted by Lab Rat

There are numerous reports popping up on threads across the Apple support forums (see 1, 2) and Mac Forums in general ( see 1, 2 ) detailing what appears to be a potential flaw in the latest MacBook’s design. Posts dating as far back as August of 2006 have grown into lengthy threads consisting of folks whose MacBook cases have begun to mysteriously crack in the exact same spot.

It appears the flaw is an equal opportunity offender, as both black and white MacBooks seem to be affected. The predominant theory seems to be that the plastic nubs meant to protect the screen when closing the MacBook are actually applying a little too much pressure to the lower right edge of the casing, causing a section of the edge to break off.

Now of course, everyone suffering from these problems is claiming that they treat their MacBook like GOLD, and have never, EVER applied too much pressure when closing their screen or (heaven forbid) dropped their laptop, and are completely baffled by the cracks. Their plight seems to gain a bit of credibility when you begin to see the sheer number of people who have posted similar shots of their cracked MacBooks. Engadget points out there is even now a Flickr group devoted to sharing photos and horror stories of Giselle Bundchen-esque MacBooks turning into horribly disfigured Eleanor Roosevelt-esque MacBooks. The problem has even gone global, with French users also reporting trouble.

34 Responses to “The case of the cracking MacBooks”
  1. This is exactly what happened to mine back in January. I had bought it in August and it first developed a hairline crack from the keyboard to the left edge, then this. I was typing away and felt something scratch my wrist – the plastic had splintered as above.

    Then the hard drive failed.

    Took it to the Apple store in Kingston-on-Thames and they said they’d never seen one like that before. Left it with them for a few days, got it back with a new keyboard layer (built into the lid of the bottom half) and a new HD.

  2. David says:


    It is from closing your lid to hard, retard.

    Ease up on it a bit, A macbook is like sweet, sweet women,

  3. S. R. Casm says:

    Your sarcasm in your article baffles me. Given the number of reported incidents and the uniformity of the problem area, it stands to reason that the problem is design-related vs. user-inflicted. Were this problem isolated to a few users and were you reporting ahead of the problem, then you might have a point. But given that the problem has been multiplying for nearly a year now, I recommend that you give the smugness a rest. Apple is not perfect, and there are many, many, many documented cases of poor design and manufacturing to support the notion that people who identify these defects deserve a fair hearing before sites such as yours heave on the sarcasm.

  4. Lab Rat says:


    There is sarcasm in almost everything we write here at Macenstein, that’s our thing, so I understand you taking this article the wrong way, but I actually didn’t think I was being sarcastic. I legitimately think there IS a problem.

    When I wrote “Their plight seems to gain a bit of credibility when you begin to see the sheer number of people who have posted similar shots of their cracked MacBooks. …there is even now a Flickr group devoted to sharing photos and horror stories … The problem has even gone global, with French users also reporting trouble.”

    I meant that there is obviously a problem, and it is not isolated.

    My saying “everyone suffering from these problems is claiming that they treat their MacBook like GOLD, and have never, EVER applied too much pressure when closing their screen or (heaven forbid) dropped their laptop, ” is a LITTLE sarcastic, as anyone who has had a MacBook for more than a week (let alone a year) has likely bumped it into a thing or two or closed the lid a little too hard, but I am not saying they did anything wrong. The laptop should be built to withstand normal daily use.

    Sorry to have confused you.


  5. I’ve been having the same problem with my MacBook. And to comment on David’s smartass comment…she maybe a sweet, sweet woman, but even a woman has to be able to put up with the daily wear and tear of life…

  6. mac book says:

    The same exact thing happened to mine, I couldn’t remember doing anything that would have cracked it, but I assumed either me or my roommate had applied too much pressure there at some point. I guess not.

  7. The Shadow says:

    My sister’s had the same problem. She sent into AppleCare and got it fixed, so no big deal.

    It’s an unfortunate design flaw to a good idea. The magnet is just a little too strong and causes a hairline fracture in the plastic, even when you’re careful about closing the lid.

    The problem could probably be resolved if Apple rubberized the nubs.

  8. codizzle says:


  9. Dave says:

    I always eat and drink while computing so when mine was new, I picked up a rubber keyboard protector on ebay. I hate crumbs in keys! The one I found was black and actually wraps over the entire palmwrest. It might protect me from this too because it actually rubberizes the nibs too. I love it, and it was cheap. (and no, I’m not the seller). The black color looked good on the keys too. YMMV.

  10. vastheman says:

    I don’t think it’s from the lid at all. I don’t think the case can handle the weight of your wrists while typing. I’d call it poor design (yes, my macbook has cracked, too).

  11. Smokin_Gun says:

    Yes it is definitely and obviously from the pegs on the lid, even on non-cracked top case, if the lid is closed too hard and/or to much pressure is applied to the lid while closed the pegs will leave marks on the top case. This is casued by the user, whether they close it to hard or put it in a bag with books or other such things that apply too much pressure to the lid while closed. Sure apple could design the bottom case with a front lip that is deeper into the machine to prevent this, but this is not happening on a large percentage of macbooks by any stretch of the imagination.

  12. Matt says:

    I would say the macbooks are quite tough, I sent mine flying off a 5 foot high box, whilst switched on, it hit the desk, and has been fine ever since. That was 6 months ago.

  13. Siqveland says:

    My MacBook has never been dropped, and I close it quite gently. Even so it has developed a crack across one hinge on the back side. Otherwise it has performed well. I hope the plastic is tough enough to last a few years. Maybe Apple need to reconcider their choise of suppliers og plastics? The iPod also has a few issues here (screen getting scratched).

  14. this is exactly what has happened to my macbook. In the same spot. It looks like I dropped it, even though that has never happened.

  15. Agent E says:

    I work at an education higher ed Apple reseller and have probably seen 3 of these MacBooks in the last six months, and each machine had absolutely no other sign of physical wear and tear. I strongly suspect a design flaw.

  16. Anonymous says:

    this is a defect, my blackbook sits on my desk, travels very lightly and it just did this and i use a wireless keyboard.

    i think these things just get too hot for plastic

  17. shawn says:

    Dangit…. this just happened to my blackbook and i got on the web to see what was going on. This is a design flaw….and i’m not one of those picky macbook wierdos who act like they want to marry it. Anyways i dont abuse it, it rarely leaves my desk …and used with wireless keyboard mouse.

    i think its the heat and the plastic….and also not enough support at the palm rest. I’ve used my macbook keyboard itself maybe 20 times or so.

    this isn’t closing lid hard haha crazy….ohhhh caress the macbook hahah please. my lid has been opened and closed maybe 20 times max.

  18. BC says:

    This just happened to my white Macbook. I simply pulled my hand away from the keyboard – no watch, jewelry or anything – and I felt something snag against my palm – and there it was, a split virtually identical to the first one pictured above. I have always very consciously “fought the magnet” to close the lid gently; I’ve never permitted pressure on the lid, and I’ve always had to keep my wrists off the edge of the machine simply because the sharp edge annoyed me. The split did not surprise me though, because when I bought the unit 4 months ago my reaction was, “damn, this shell feels cheap and laminated, like it might peel away given any excuse.”
    Sad to see I was right, but I thank people for describing their issues.
    Does Apple bother to test their hardware??
    I’m inclined to think it’s the heat combined with the (stupidly non-padded) knubs on the lid and the fact that the thing inevitably closes with much more force than an ordinary latching design. Innovative designs like the magnet closure are fine and well — but when they fail, to assume it’s the users fault is foolish.

  19. RW says:

    Sorry bozos, but this has nothing to do with the lid. The wrist rests are poorly supported and flex. I can hear mine flex when I place my wrist on it. When you lean your wrists on them, the vertical fexing of the plastic loads the edges and eventually cracks the plastic.

    Now, I’m sure I will get flamed by all of you who believe it’s the magnet. Get over it – you are not engineers and have no clue about the reason for the failure.

    Alas, you will still press your opinions no matter how wrong they are,

  20. WR says:

    RW is completely wrong. It’s aliens. Minute aliens who have infilterated your MacBooks and set them up to take over the world. RW is an engineer; he knows nothing about covert extraterretrial operations.

    Just look at the pictures. You can tell they are all fabricated. Just like Capricorn One. You can see the wires. It’s all fake. Doctored photographs to misdirect you from the Lilliputian aliens hell-bent on dominating the world.

  21. Gabriel says:

    I have a Macbook also, for over a year. I just noticed this little crack today on its left side of the keyboard. I did my research to see if other people were having the same problem and I found this site. I knew it was not only me with this problem. I think the magnet is too strong, If I could take the magnets off, I would. I think I would have to put tape or avoid closing it too often.

  22. KB says:

    Yes, I’ve had this problem too. What I haven’t been able to find are the dangers of not correcting this problem. What can happen if I don’t get the case replaced (it’s out of warranty. I don’t have the cash to fix it).

  23. Martin says:

    The same phenomena on my white MacBook…
    I’ts a problem with design and materials

  24. Sean says:

    I’ve had this happen to TWO MacBooks (white and now black). Both times it has happened while typing/mousing and using the right wristrest as intended. I have been guilty of packing it with heavy books, but inside its own padded compartment.

  25. Anna says:

    I treat my macbook so nice that I never ever ever ever abuse it,in any way and today I felt a sharp scratch in my wrist looked at my macbook and there it was……the plastic is coming off.
    I am so mad with Apple…….it is disgraceful…..
    I am really upset about it ……my macbook is only 7 months old.

  26. Steph says:

    Got it in December – I’m a photojournalist/writer and spend at least a couple hours on it each day.

    Today I noticed the same problem in the exact same spot – same length, distance and size.

    I don’t have AppleCare I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

  27. Joe Strummer says:

    My MacBook has cracked, too. To those claiming abuse, you’re mistaken. I love my Macs and I don’t abuse them. However, it is a laptop and should be able to resist breakage from normal use (which, for a laptop, includes moving around in a carry bag, opening, and closing). I have a crappy Dell laptop for work, and have had IBM StinkPads, also for work, and none has ever cracked the way my MacBook has. I mean, come on: For $1100, they could have made it out of stainless steel!

  28. Bryan Harms says:

    I’m in total agreement with you, Joe. I’ve been a Mac fan and user from 1985, having had several Mac Portables none of which ever cracked. I still own two, one of which (a PowerBook 12) has been bent, and inadvertently dropped a couple of times…and still has never needed repairs. My Macbook, purchased just under a year ago, however, I’ve treated with utmost care, putting on a protective shell from day one, and a more recently, a silicone keyboard cover (to minimize closing pressure). Still, however the lower left, front corner is cracking. Shape up Apple! Thin is NOT beautiful when it falls apart.

  29. Jeff M says:

    Ditto happened to our mac too. Question no one seems to care about is, what can we do about it? Take it to applecare? How much does that cost? I dont have the applecare insurance plan. Wish I could just order parts and replace that piece myself.

  30. ika says:

    this happened to me also. unfortunately it occurred just after 1 year of purchase so it was not eligible for free replacement. my screen edge also cracked around camera (hair crack) but this occurred before 1 year was up. I really liked apple product up to now. I will not buy another laptop from them for sure. For a premium one is paying you would expect a lot better and not crappy cheap materials. my compaq laptop that is 5 years old looks as good as new.

  31. Kenny Jacob says:

    I like RW’s post… and don’t understand why 95% of the blogs and 100% of the headlines are about the white macbook… mine is black, same cracks as the photos above, on the “sides” and “front” of the keyboard. So its not about the magnets or
    issues of “closure” but faulty materials probably. I am not an engineer, but it looks like the weight of the wrists while typing causes pressure, then cracks…yet there are cracks people report in areas that have no pressure, around camera etc.

    On my second hard drive in 24 months, more upset by the cracks that are cosmetic but hey, looks like crap…unless you like the new ventilation system!

    Will try to get it replaced, here in France…

  32. Harrison says:

    So, people, I don’t know why everyone is arguing HOW it happened…obviously its from the case. Whether its from pressure from wrists, magnets, closing hard, or the protectors that are RIGHT NEXT TO and parallel to the cracks……. It could be a combination of everything. Anything that puts more pressure on it, will simply take off the stamina of the plastic.

    The real matter is:

    1- Will Apple fix it?
    2- How much?
    3- Will AppleCare Cover it?! or do they say it’s your fault and screw you over?…. anyway…

    I’ve heard of my friend’s doing the same thing and said they replaced his for him….
    But is it just “one of those” that got lucky, or will EVERYONE be able to? (with warranty/AppleCare)


    1- How do we prevent it from happening again?! Anyone?

    After all that, I state my case:

    I’ve been using my macbook for quiet some time. I’ve noticed these cracks appearing on an early stage. I saw them making marks on where the cracks are located…. I thought maybe it was from my poo typing skills – – keeping my wrists down and pulling/rubbing at it….. I trying very hard to not rub my wrists anymore, hoping it would fix the problem.

    As I continue on, the right side starts to rip off, ….to prevent it from coming off completely… I taped it. The left side sadly had no chance and fell off. I was thinking wow, I really suck at holding my wrists up….

    Next time, I noticed fractures on the TOP half of the macbook (the screen’s case)… this is when it popped out to me. The separators are located EXACTLY along those marks…
    So I now have FOUR CRACKS… on the TOP AND BOTTOM of the macbook.

    This proves that its the separators doing the damage.

    ANOTHER ISSUE! ….Now this is another case issue. Not a crack but yet a LINE/MARK in the screen!!!!
    where: if you dim your screen brightness/turn macbook off and clean off the screen so you can see it better, there is a line/mark going straight across (horizontally) on the screen.
    WHEN YOU CLOSE THE MACBOOK: the mark lines up EXACTLY with the keyboard/trackpad divider. (The edge of where the keyboard gets indented…)

    At first i thought this line was just dust/dirt. After several attempts to clean it, it wouldn’t come off. So now, I have a screen with a mark in it from the case as well.

    Now, this is not that bad, because you can’t really notice it, BUT if you LOOK for it, you can see it.
    Anyone else with his problem?

    A THIRD ISSUE : again not a HORRIBLE thing, but could develop just as the screen…
    Where the hinge is to close the macbook… there on the screen’s case near the bottom where is actually has print “MacBook” on the case…. I have a line going horizontally through the word “MacBook”… It cuts through the M-B-and k…(they are larger/taller than the other letters)…If you close the macbook, the line/mark lines up with the hinge edge on the bottom half of the case (keyboard)….

    Now again, the screen and the other mark near the hinge ..they are not that huge of an issue, though that is what i though when the cracks near the separators started…All I am saying is that it could develop into something bad.

    I hope to try and talk to apple. I have Applecare. Wish me luck!

  33. laura says:

    Going off the subject of the broken case, what about the broken Macbook screens….

    I just bought my first Macbook three weeks ago!!! And when i was moving the laptop i applied the tinest bit of pressure with my thumb on the top right hand corner of the screen… within seconds my whole screen developed a crack as if I had literally thrown some object on top of it!!! and the whole screen just went all different colours. I couldnt make any sense of it.

    Luckily I took out a protection plan from PC world and they give me unlimited repairs for free which i pay £10 a month for.

    My macbook is currently in for repair!!

    I have completely lost faith in Apple, espicially after reading the amount of comments from people with the same problem!! A laptop screen shouldnt just crack from a simple bit of pressure from your thumb or putting the lid down.

    I would advise anyone to take out a protection plan when purchasing an Apple product that has high value beacuse trust me… u will need it!!!!

    I would rather pay PC world that £10 a month than gave Apple anymore money for a product which is unfit for its purpose!!!!!!

  34. ewan says:

    I just got a new Macbook- May 2009 and mine has the SAME problem. It’s on the right side- exactly like the one in the picture above. I noticed that when I close the top down- the crack is basically right where that little ridge on the inside of the top touches the bottom. Maybe the magnet that holds it closed is too strong?

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