How to Expand MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air Storage

I hear variations of “How can I get more storage space on my MacBook Air?” and “I don’t have space on my MacBook Pro Retina” all the time. Until recently, all we could do was delete files from disk to free up space. Now, however, we have options.

Option number 1: Transcend JetDrive Lite

Many MacBook Airs and all MacBook Pro Retinas come with an SDXC card slot on the side. It’s there so you can take the card out of your camera and stick it directly into the laptop to transfer photos to the Mac. It turns out that hardly anyone uses that slot, so it’s just sitting there doing nothing … until now. Transcend makes a product called JetDrive Lite in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB sizes, and all you have to do is pop it into the unused SDXC card slot, instantly increasing the machine’s storage capacity.

The JetDrive Lite is designed to fit absolutely flush with your laptop rather than sticking out a bit like a normal SDXC card would, and since the various models of Apple laptops use different SDXC slots, it is important to get the card that it is made for your machine. That’s not difficult: just go to the Apple menu, then About This Mac, and then More Info. You will see the official name of your model there.

Using the model number, visit the Transcend website and choose the appropriate model for your laptop. They have JetDrive Lites for MacBook Airs from 2010 to 2015, and MacBook Pro Retinas from 2012 to 2015. That pretty much covers it!

Note: the space provided by JetDrive Lite is pull apart from the original solid state drive (SSD) space. So if you have a 256GB SSD and you add a 128GB JetDrive Lite, whose end up with a 384GB drive. Instead, you will have a second hard drive (128GB) in addition to 256.

Remember: dragging a file from one disk to another does not move is – rather, is duplicates that. So when you drag things onto your JetDrive Lite card, remember to remove them from their original locations (unless want duplicates).

Thrill-seeking power users can back up all their hard drives and then use Disk Utility to create a single partition from the combined internal drive and JetDrive Lite, and then copy everything back, but this does make it impossible to use the SDXC slot for anything. otherwise, that card must remain in place if the machine is to function properly.

My recommendation: keep the card as a separate disk. That way, you can still take the card out and use the slot to import images from a camera if you ever feel like doing so. Also, the card is slower than the SSD, so it makes sense to put infrequently used files on the card, leaving frequently used system, application, and files on the SSD.

Option number 2: Transcend JetDrive

The easiest way to upgrade your MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air storage is to insert a card into the SDXC slot. That was the “JetDrive Lite” described above. The less easy way, but perhaps better for you in the long run, is to take out the original SSD that is too small and replace it with something bigger, ie the “JetDrive” (without the “Lite”). This requires opening the case, but it’s not that difficult, and Transcend has a great video showing how it’s done.

The JetDrive comes in 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB models, and as with the Lite cards, you need to get the right one. Use the Transcend website to find out which one is right for your machine

Cousin: Transcend includes an enclosure for your old SSD, so you end up with the new larger SSD inside the laptop and your old smaller SSD in a case that you can use as an external hard drive. Cute.

Long-time Mac hardware company Other World Computing has an internal SSD upgrade for MacBook Pro from late 2013, 2014, and 2015 with Retina Display. This is the first update available for those machines. Search for Other World Computing online at http://macsales.com. Find the Transcend website at http://www.transcend-info.com/apple/jetdrivelite/.

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