Fixing a MacBook Pro with Liquid on the Keyboard


I had the misfortune the other day of spilling Ribena on the keyboard of my MacBook Pro. A short while later I got the sad Mac icon and it refused to boot up properly. I thought I would write down what I did to get to the stage where I am now typing out this article on the previously broken computer.

The first step is to take the system into Apple. In my case despite trying to be as nice as possible, the sales ‘genius’ was that busy writing it off on their system that he almost forgot I was now without a computer. Basically he said (without ever looking inside it) that they would need to replace everything and the cost of doing that was slightly more than a new MacBook Pro. I did manage to get him to run a software check and that basically told me that the hard drive was not doing so well.

So knowing that the computer is said to be a write off, I thought that I might as well try and revive it myself, but I needed to buy a few things to do some testing.

First thing was to test that the computer was still functional. I was lucky here as I create a mirror back up on an external hard drive every week. If you don’t though, create a recovery disc and try and boot into that. In my case from the external drive everything booted and ran ok.

The next thing I bought was a USB to SATA connection device. In the Australia you can get these from jaycar ( or buy from OWC Macsales ( These devices allow you to take your hard drive out and try to connect to it.

It’s pretty easy to open up your MacBook. Follow the instructions on the Macsales website ( to take off the back and remove your hard drive. You might be using these later too.

Once you have the drive out, plug it into your USB device and try to connect to it from another machine. I couldn’t on my system.

Next step is to buy another hard drive. I would do this from OWC again and in my case I picked a similar drive to the existing one which was 750GB at 5400rpm. You could go to any drive you want so SSD for the ultimate in speed or for a bit of a boost a 7200rpm drive. I didn’t go with higher speed as I am a bit worried about heat of a faster spinning drive in a notebook in Brisbane, Australia, but now I regret not going for an SSD which is probably the ideal combination of speed and fast access.

When my drive came a few days later I mirrored the hard drive copy I had, from a back up via Carbon copy cloner or super dooper onto the new drive then installed that into the MacBook. If you are lucky here that’s as far as you need to go. In my case though that still didn’t work.

What I found was that I still couldn’t boot onto the new drive, but if I booted onto a USB drive, I could see it.

The next step was then a reformat of the drive again and cloning the drive from the USB.

With the newly re-cloned drive, I could not only see files, but it will boot quite happily.

The end result is a MacBook Pro that was written off by Apple, is now perfectly good and will probably last me for another couple of years. The only compromise is the lack of a DVD drive. As I rarely use this and I have the old drive as an external drive using the OWC DVD drive enclosures, this doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem.

No Audio on Macbook (and red light in headphone port)

I have recently had the misfortune of having the sound on my Macbook going off after about 10 minutes, and a red light appearing in the port.

After much research I found out that this is actually a VERY common problem (c’mon Apple you should fix this up). It seems to relate to plugging non-Apple plugs into your headphone port. Mine certainly happened when I started plugging in a lead to go to some external speakers. The problem is caused by a little switch inside the port which is there to sense whether they plug you plug in is optical or not. The larger plug size seems to cause it to somehow waver between detecting it as an optical port and not.

The standard advice to fix this is to ram your plug in and out a few, or to stick something in there and fiddle around at roughly the 7 o’clock position. I tried this and it worked for 10 minutes, then went off again.

What has worked for me is the advice from Macriot (sorry I can’t put the link in as Safari 4 crashes when I try, but it is They say:

f you have these symptoms, we recommend a very gentle and minute tinkle of WD-40 into the audio output jack, followed by gently inserting and removing the audio input jack a few times. At least until the sound is returned to normal and red light ceases to glow from the audio output jack.Remember, we said “tinkle” not spraying into the jack like there’s no tomorrow…”

This seems to have done the trick for me and I have now been complete with audio for the last 4-5 hours! Hooray!