MacBook Pro hard drive to SSD upgrade guide

posted in: Laptop, OS Cloning, Upgrade | 3

In this guide I explain how to upgrade a MacBook Pro from a regular hard drive to SSD. Moving from a HDD to SSD is the best upgrade you can do for a laptop. It will give you a very noticeable performance improvement.

Also, I will explain how to migrate all the data, including the operating system, personal files and settings to the new drive without reinstalling the OS from scratch.

The new SSD must be the same capacity or larger as the original hard drive. In my case, I’m moving from 160GB to 250GB.

I will be using a Samsung 840 EVO series SSD which I like a lot.

Samsung 840 EVO SSD

Remove the bottom cover from your MacBook Pro to access the hard drive. Remove the mounting bracket (secured by two screws), unplug the SATA cable from the drive and remove it from the laptop.

You will need a PH0 Phillips screwdriver.

Remove hard drive

Transfer four mounting screws (studs) from the original drive to the new one.

You will need a T6 torx screwdriver.

Transfer mounting studs

Install the SSD into the laptop. Install the bottom cover back in place.

Install SSD into MacBook Pro

In order to connect the old drive to the laptop I’ll be using a FireWire 800 to SATA adapter.

Alternatively, you can use a USB to SATA cable.

FireWire 800 to SATA adapter

Connect the old hard drive to the adapter cable and plug it into the available port on the MacBook Pro side.

Turn on the laptop while holding down the Option key. Do not release the key until you see the boot devices shown on the screen.

Option boot MBP

If you had a Mac OS X Lion (10.7) or newer OS version installed, you should see two boot devices on the screen.

Macintosh HD is your main partition on the original hard drive. That’s where all your personal data is saved.

Recovery -10.9.1 is your recover partition on the original hard drive. We’ll be using it to start the Disk Utility.


If you had a Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) or earlier OS version installed, you will see only one Macintosh HD partition. In order to start the Disk Utility, you will have to boot your laptop from the OS installation disc. In this case you will have to go to Utilities tab in the top menu and select Disk Utility.


In my example I had Mavericks OS installed. Select the Recovery partition and click the Return key.

Recovery Partition

The laptop will boot and display the following OS X Utilities window. We’ll be using Disk Utility to prepare the new SSD for data migration from the original hard drive.

Select Disk Utility and click on the Continue button.

OS X Utilities

In the next window you will see both drives listed on the left side.

The old 160GB drive has a partition named Macintosh HD. The new 250GB drive has no partition and it has to be created.

Disk utility

Here’s how to partition and format the drive:

1. Select the new drive in the left pane.

2. Click on the Partition tab.

3. In the Partition Layout drop down menu select 1 Partition.

4. In the Format drop down menu select Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

5. You can leave the partition name Untitled 1.

6. Click on the Apply button and wait for a few seconds.

Format SSD

After a short time the new drive will be partitioned and formatted.

Partition on SSD created

Now we are going to copy all content from the old drive to the new one.

Click on the Restore tab in the right pane.

Restore partition

In the new windows you will see two fields: Source and Destination.

Drag the source volume (Macintosh HD) into the Source field.

Drag the destination volume (Untitled HD) into the Destination field.

Click on the Restore button.

Clone HDD to SSD

The warning message will pop up asking if you want to erase the destination partition.

Erase destination drive

After you click on the Erase button the data migration process will start.

It will clone all the content from the source drive to the destination drive.

This process can take a few hours, it depends on now much data you have on the source drive.

You can see the progress bar in the lower right corner.


During the data transfer process the laptop screen can turn dark. You can bring it back to life by tapping once on the spacebar. This will not interrupt the process.

Clone to SSD in progress

After the data migration is completed you will see the partition name on the new drive changes from Untitled 1 to Macintosh HD.

Now you can exit the OS X Utilities, turn off the laptop and unplug the source drive.

When you restart the laptop it should boot as normal and look exactly the same as before replacing the hard drive.

OS clone finished

When you boot the laptop for the first time after cloning the OS, it might take a long time to detect the new drive.

It happens because the new drive is not set a primary boot device.

In order to change it you’ll have to go to System Preferences and select the Startup Disk icon.

In the Startup Disk windows select the new drive and click on the Restart button.

After this the laptop will restart and boot much faster.

Set startup disk

This cloning process will work only if the source hard drive has NO hardware problems. If it has bad or failed blocks, most likely the process will fail. In this case you will have to reinstall Mac OS X from scratch and transfer all personal files manually or with the help of Migration Assistant.

3 Responses

  1. Hi, where i can buy “FireWire 800 to SATA adapter” ? Thx for info !!×487.jpg

  2. Danny Dullin

    @ hmlq,
    This cable is available on Amazon or eBay. Search for “Seagate FireWire 800 to SATA cable”.

  3. Chris Leeds

    Great resource!

    Looking for late technician guides, like anything 2013 and newer. I run a apple repair business in Dallas and work solely on out of warranty products. I have an Apple help desk certification but not a tech certificate. Thus I don’t have access to the GSX or Service manuals. Thank you. Chris

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