How to identify the exact model of your old Mac

Macs last a long time. In fact, they remain functional long enough for most Mac owners to forget what model, exactly, of Mac they use every day. Yet knowing your Mac’s precise model name is essential when you’re ready to upgrade not just the hardware, but also software and major OS updates. After all, it’s very likely that, while upgrading from Snow Leopard to Lion, for example, you will discover that you want to add more memory or otherwise upgrade the hardware, too. To order replacement parts, you’ll need to know the exact model you have.

First, find your serial number

Probably the quickest and easiest way to learn about your Mac is with the serial number. Look on the surface of your Mac or on your sales receipt or original packaging. If you can’t find it either of those ways, you can locate this while running your Mac:

  • From the Apple menu, select “About this Mac.”
  • Click on “More Info…”
  • Highlight the “Hardware” category, and look for the serial number there.

More Info About This Mac

(If you have OS X 10.1 or higher installed on your Mac, you can also go to the Apple menu, choose “About this Mac,” then double-click on the OS version number. It will change to your serial number.)

Then use these sites to get the help you need

With the serial number, you can find out the hip version name of your particular model. For instance, how are you to remember that the MacBook Pro 4.1 was also referred to as the MacBook Pro Early 2008. To get even more information about your Mac, Apple has provided a few online services that can help you out:

  • Apple’s Support’s Tech Spec Search Utility: A great, well-maintained source of information about Apple products that includes all the product information even after it has been removed from the primary site as well as the Apple Online Store. Enter your serial number into the search box, and you will find information about the processor speed, size and weight, memory, storage and much more.
  • Apple’s Service and Repair Web Site: If you are in need of service or repair, whether you have Apple Care or not, this site will help get you started on the road to recovery. You can contact an Apple advisor, make an appointment with a genius at an Apple Retail Store, or search for a local Apple Authorized Service Provider.
  • Apple’s Apple Care Registered Products List: If you have purchased Apple Care for any of your products, or if you have very recently purchased a new Mac and are still covered by the free Apple Care coverage, then this is the place to go when you need help or support.
  • Apple’s My Support Profile list of My Products: Relatively unknown site that helps keep track of all of your interactions with Apple support as well as maintain a list of the products you have registered with Apple. In fact, this site will help you keep track of all of your Apple purchases.

What I find interesting about being an owner of Apple products is the amount of time and energy people, including myself, put into knowing everything there is to know about the next piece of hardware Apple is to release. Yet as time passes, many of us simply forget the exact details of what we already have. I hope this guide will help close this knowledge gap.