Replacing the glowing apple on the lid of a Mac laptop
July 20, 2007 5:14 AM   Subscribe

No-logo hardware mod: With what shape should I replace the glowing apple on the lid of a Mac laptop, and how?

Nothing against Apple, I just like not displaying logos where possible. I'll be doing this with a MacBook Pro (then with other laptops, but focusing on MBP for this question).

I don't want to just cover up the apple with something solid; I want the light to shine through a different shape. So we're talking some flat, opaque material -- with a cutout in the new shape through which the light will shine -- attached over the existing apple shape on the exterior of the lid. (Internal mods wouldn't work here because I want to cover up the apple, which is visible on the exterior whether the light is shining or not.)

What material should I attach? Attached how?
The MBP's surface, aside from the apple, is "aluminum alloy" (haven't found specifics on % or materials), basically smooth but with a very slight brushed/textured feel. The apple is smooth hard plastic.

What shape should the cutout be?
I'm thinking simple, beautiful shapes (like a stylized sun or an abstract curve) rather than irony (no Microsoft logo/etc.). Remember I have only a small area of light to work with, basically a 1" diameter circle/apple (plus the mini leaf above the apple, if I want to use that).

And how should this shape be cut out?
I could cut it out myself, or I could find (or custom order?) a precut stencil in metal or plastic. I do have access to a Dremel and a drill press, but for aesthetics, my ideal would be a professionally cut stencil (unless I think of a custom shape I really love -- especially for the MBP which is mine).

Googling hasn't shown me any good techniques; the examples I can find all emphasize the apple rather than replacing it (colorful, inventive [semi-NSFW] or logical as they may be).
posted by allterrainbrain to Technology (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
How about a Pear?
posted by gergtreble at 5:31 AM on July 20, 2007

I notice you are a musician; how about a note, a treble or bass clef, or other musical symbol? Not sure about how to mod the case, though.
posted by TedW at 5:45 AM on July 20, 2007

Response by poster: Actually I should not have asked what shape. Scratch that part.

Assume I know what shape I want -- I want to focus just on how to make this work physically. Thanks!

posted by allterrainbrain at 6:04 AM on July 20, 2007

How about putting it on a speck clear case? And pimp your mac.
posted by filmgeek at 6:27 AM on July 20, 2007

You've got a MBP so the alumin(i)um is a problem. I've got a Blackbook and am planning to find a blank, square vinyl sticker to cut a shape out of. You could be overt and use black as well, just make it symmetrical. Short of duct tape I can't imagine how to get anything to blend in. I know you don't want to advertise, but the alternative is to embrace what's there and make it cooler. My favorite is the Magritte mod.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:29 AM on July 20, 2007

...and I've always wanted to make my laptop like the ones on Stargate:Atlantis, but there's no lights on those, so I'd lose the cool glow.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:30 AM on July 20, 2007

If you want to 'embrace what's there and make it cooler (on the cheap, to boot), check out MacStyles which has vinyl stickers of various shapes that adhere nicely to a MBP.

Truly worth a look.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:48 AM on July 20, 2007

If you ever go to electronic music shows, some laptop artists just place tape or other diecut sticker over the Apple logo to make the shape they want.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:56 AM on July 20, 2007

I used an old rainbow Mac sticker on mine. Had to separate the leaf so it would fit right on the newer logo, but I'm pretty happy with the results.

Of course this is exactly NOT what the OP wanted. I wonder if you could go to a place that does custom laser-cut business cards like Woz has, and get them to do a "prototype" for you?
posted by bink at 7:00 AM on July 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, Blazecock Pileon -- that's what I've done in the past (just taping cardboard over the apple anytime my laptop needs to be onstage or otherwise on display in the dark). This question is about finding a permanent / good-looking way to not display the logo in everyday life.
posted by allterrainbrain at 7:12 AM on July 20, 2007

I haven't seen any teardowns of the MBP that involved cracking open the display bezel, so there's no way of knowing what's in there. It's possible that there's some bit of structure or electronics surrounding the Apple cutout that you wouldn't want to mess with.

That said, someone found a clever way to incorporate the logo into a new design.
posted by adamrice at 7:34 AM on July 20, 2007

There is a step-by-step tutorial in Make a while back. It basically involved cutting a hole, and then filling it.

I think theirs was the all-plastic model though. Aluminum alloy is sure to complicate things.
posted by Reggie Digest at 7:35 AM on July 20, 2007

er, there was
posted by Reggie Digest at 7:36 AM on July 20, 2007

Response by poster: The laser-cut business card is a great idea, assuming I could find the right clear, permanent glue to seal over its front surface and attach it to the lid.

(Am I typing blurry today, or are this many people just not believing somebody would want to HIDE THE LOGO, not make a design with the logo as its centerpiece?)
posted by allterrainbrain at 8:02 AM on July 20, 2007

I don't think anything done by hand is likely to look professional. Laser cut the case. Laser cut a matching plexi insert. A small amount of clear epoxy should anchor it in place.

Alternatively, if you cut the design by hand (or maybe even if you don't), investigate filling the void with some kind of pourable acrylic material.
posted by probablysteve at 8:48 AM on July 20, 2007

Also, check craft stores for stickers. They make some that are fairly thick and would cover the logo but allow the light through. I once found a donut with a bite out of it sticker that fit almost perfectly.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 9:29 AM on July 20, 2007

allterrainbrain, I think we're just trying to come up with alternatives that may not do exactly what you want but may still be alright. Obfuscation might be good enough for other people who are reading this thread looking for tips, as well.
posted by monkeymadness at 9:29 AM on July 20, 2007

It may not be your style but you could always go for a cool leather patch with slits/holes/etc. for the light to come through with your design. Metal and leather always look cool together. I really like the business card idea, though. You've got me thinking about mine, now.
posted by monkeymadness at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2007

Patrick Norton showed how he got rid of the Apple logo on his black Macbook on Episodes 171 & 172 of It looks like a lot of elbow grease is involved, but it's indeed possible to get a fairly invisible removal of the hole left by the logo.

How you'd do this with a Macbook Pro or Powerbook, however, I dunno.
posted by melorama at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2007

Why not get a silver or titanium metallic ink pen from an art supply store and carefully and evenly fill in the plastic logo with it? It might take two coats, but I bet it would be opaque. you might want to test different shades on the bottom of your case just to be sure it matches.
posted by raconteur at 12:18 PM on July 20, 2007

Should've added, if you mask your design off with tape, you'll be able to peel it back once the ink dries and get a really crisp line. and it might be good to investigate some sort of sealer for this too, though obviously not shiny since your case is matte.
posted by raconteur at 12:20 PM on July 20, 2007

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