How to ‘fix’ a swollen MacBook battery

If having your laptop’s battery swell up to the point where your trackpad and keyboard become unusable was a problem universal to all laptops – then presumably a Google search on the phrase “swollen laptop battery” would bring up all sorts of brand names….

But it doesn’t.

Because swelling laptop batteries is a lovely Easter egg, an unsung Mac “feature”, and searching on the phrase “swollen laptop battery” brings up references only to Apple Macbooks.

Yet, despite the uniqueness of this feature to Macbooks and its $84 billion in cash (almost enough to fill up the UN’s proposed $100-billion-by-2020 Green Climate Fund), Apple is too mean to replace my swollen battery.

The fix: Sorry, I don’t know how to fix Apple. Somewhere there must be a preference setting for self-importance, but maybe you can only access it via the command line.

The swollen battery fix: Oh, you want to know how to fix your swollen battery!?

First, unplug the power supply and let the battery run down completely to no charge.

Get some Torx screwdrivers, and open up the battery. Inside, you’ll see six flat silver envelopes. Get a pin. Go to a very well-ventilated place, hold your breath – and prick a small hole in each swollen envelope.

There will be a great rush of toxic vapours, probably fluoridated gases with high climate forcing potential, the atmosphere will sag unhappily, and the end of the world will come a little closer. (Okay, I exaggerate slightly.)

Put a little bit of tape over the pinholes. Internal gases should still escape, but tape might slow down any oxidation of battery contents (this is purely speculative). Re-assemble battery. Your problem should be solved, although from now on, the continual imperceptible slow release of God alone knows what toxic vapours from your lap will be adding slack to your mortal coil.

In case it isn’t obvious: This fix is completely, totally, not recommended, and I accept no responsibility for any damage to yourself or your Macbook should you be foolish enough to try it.

Comments on just what a bad idea this is are most welcome. If it actually helped, feel free to contribute an expression of gratitude before drawing your last breath. I’m interested to know if it works for others, and for how long.

Update: 25 July 2012

This post is now by far the most popular on my not very popular blog, with over 5,000 hits since I wrote it. Given the number of people who have had this problem, I’m suggesting someone start a class action suit against Apple. Schmucks.

Update: 17 March 2013

Again: a few people (see comments) have reported sparks when trying this. It has been suggested that you run down or drain the battery completely before trying this (if you feel so bold). That makes a lot of sense.

About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
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96 Responses to How to ‘fix’ a swollen MacBook battery

  1. Ryan says:

    I thought my trackpad was gunked up, but apparently it was as simple as popping the battery out… and sure enough, it was swollen like everyone else’s. I’m very careful about keeping my MacBook as cool as possible, but even then, it still runs pretty hot.

    I looked at new aftermarket batteries, and they all had pretty bad reviews, and a new battery from Apple is $130. It’s definitely not covered under a recall, so I gave this a shot. I opened it up with a small torque bit, popped a little hole in each pack, put it back together, and the trackpad problem is resolved.

    I haven’t found any articles on the dangers of doing this specifically, but I’m sure I’m not going to find anyone that is willing to publish that it is safe. I think this should do for now, and I plan on getting the new MBP when it comes out in a couples months.

  2. Glad it worked, Ryan! My own white MacBook was stolen three weeks after implementing this ‘fix’, so I can’t assess the longevity of the fix.

  3. Pingback: Swollen MacBook Battery – Possible Fix | IT and Mobile Development

  4. erwinsanchez says:

    I am about to pinch the battery with a syringe, I will let you know if it works.

    • Koray says:

      Have you been able to try with a syringe? Does it work?

      • David says:

        There’s no need for a syringe. Just open the battery casing and prick the envelope of the swollen lithium cells with a pin or needle. The trapped gas that has caused the swelling will escape. Then cover the hole with a little tape. Remember to do it in a well-ventilated space, and hold your breath till the trapped vapours have cleared.

    • Einar says:

      Famous last words.

  5. Renee says:

    Geez, my battery is doing that also. -was just doing a search to see if anyone else has had this issue. I wonder how many Apple customers are dealing with this.

  6. Pingback: Swollen MacBook Battery – Possible Fix | blog.alkankoray.net

  7. Rob says:

    Hello David, my dear friend, Just googled around looking for ‘the fix’ to my pregnant battery problem and wasn’t really expecting to find the solution to my problem (at the southern tip of Africa) at the southern tip of Africa. Thank you for a fantastic laugh – in fact, I read your blurb twice just for an opportunity to laugh again. Now I just need to find a torque screw driver. I assume you’ve got one lying around at home that I can drop by to pick up sometime (or if you passing through the bowl sometime)? :-)
    Maybe you should change jobs from climate activist to just making people laugh. You do a sterling job.
    Rob

  8. Ed says:

    It worked tremendously!

  9. Aaron says:

    Use a non-metallic sharp instrument to avoid sparks!

    • David says:

      Well, whatever instrument you use, don’t stick it in too far! All you need to do is prick a hole in the battery envelope – fireworks should be fairly easily avoided.

  10. Richelle says:

    That’s what she said.

  11. Auditory says:

    I had the same issue with a battery for a 17″ MacBook Pro. This is my second replacement battery. The original battery as well as the initial replacement replacement suffered the same bloated fate. I wish I had know about this technique at that time.

    Though the cycle count of this battery was below 300 (the lowest of any previous battery) when the swelling occurred, Apple would not do anything to remedy the problem because the battery is beyond the warranty period. Poor engineering on Apple’s part should not constitute a burden on the consumer’s part. I could have lived with a swollen battery if the condition did not render my trackpad clicker useless. Another design flaw courtesy of Apple.

    I tried the above work around and it was ingeniously successful. Thank you for the advice. The tricky part is being able to bend the battery cover back to its original, uniform shape. Actually, removing the battery cover provides an opportunity to slightly modify it so that there is more clearance between the metal and the trackpad clicker.

    The technique prescribed seems to shorten battery life but the battery recharges back up to 100%. I rarely operate on battery power for long periods so it isn’t an issue. This prescribed method’s strong-suite is it will provide back-up power in case the magnetic power cord becomes dislodged. The puncturing procedure will keep me from purchasing a battery until I absolutely have to. Purchasing a replacement with an American Express card will grant the purchaser an extra year of warranty.

    • David says:

      Thanks for the feedback.

      With my old white Macbook, the bending of the plastic battery cover wasn’t an issue, but I suppose yours is metal, and so a touch trickier. Glad the ‘fix’ is working for you.

  12. Pingback: My Laptop Battery Got Pregnant « At Home with Tech

  13. Barrett says:

    I thought you should know the Apple Store in New York City took pity on me and my five year old swollen MBP battery last week. As it turns out, a generous replacement battery was my fix. I enjoyed reading your back up plan, though!

  14. Koray says:

    Just had the chance to try it now after purchasing a set of precision screwdrivers and that solved the issue – thanks!

  15. Patrick says:

    I sure do wish I had read your post before embarking on my “fix.” Looked to me like the battery might be getting ready to explode or something and I really didn’t want it sitting on my desk like that. My fix was to disassemble the battery and remove the bloated pieces and then reinstall the empty battery case. I was happy that my left clicker came back to life but had I visited here sooner I would have tried your method. Great post — entertaining and informative. Thanks.

  16. John Doe says:

    Bad news – tried the method and the battery did fit back very well. I was running on battery power last night but had plugged in to AC before I went to bed. Now I see the “Battery Not Charging” message and although it shows 39% remaining with 83% health the battery won’t just work. Disconnecting computer from AC will shut it down immediately and the battery power indicator button at the back of it won’t show any lights at all..

    I think I’ll have to buy a brand new one now..

  17. Sim says:

    Thanks for this fix. Just had this issue show up recently. I have an aftermarket battery but it seems that Apple batteries suffer the same fate. I’m going to try this fix later on. I have removed the battery and the trackpad functions normally. I’m happy to keep my 2008 2.2 going for as long as possible. Still a great machine :)

  18. Sim says:

    2008 Macbook Pro 2.2 here. No torx screws? :(

  19. Paul says:

    I was wondering what the world record for the most swollen Apple battery is. Mine’s grwoing by the day – obviously it won’t fit in my MacBook Pro any more, but I’m kinda fascinated to see how thick it will become before it explodes. It’s up to well over an inch now.

    I absolutely hate Apple and their shoddy, badly made second-rate, overpriced products. The piece of crap MacBook Pro that I unfortunately purchased (for around 3x the price of a Windows/Linux equivalent) has been a prime example of the complete shitness of Apple laptops – the first one I brought home from the Apple store had a completely dead DVD drive, so I returned it for an exchange. That DVD drive (along with pretty much all the drives in that model of MacBook Pro) gave up after about a year, but my workaround is to bang it furiously when I inset a DVD, which works. Just what you’d expect from a godawful company whose rating of importance of products is:
    1. Looks cool
    2. Looks cool
    3. Looks cool
    4. Malfunctions just after the warranty’s run out
    5. Might do some computing, until it gets bogged down by numerous stupid software updates and then crawls along at a snail’s pace
    6. Turns into a useless, unstable turd if you’re crazy enough to install Mac OS 10.7 Lion
    GRRR.

    • David says:

      I agree that Macs often suck. They just seem to suck less than PCs, in my experience. So as much as they frustrate sometimes, a PC drives me crazy even more often.

      I don’t know what Lion was like – I upgraded directly from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion, and have mostly been very happy.

      • Paul says:

        I think Mac laptops are the worst value item ever marketed. The Mac Pros aren’t too bad for the money. Yeah – I’ll sit and swear at my Macs, then I’ll spend 5 minutes on a PC and realise how life could be even worse!

        You did well to skip Lion. It has nothing useful at all, they’ve just done things like remove the clickable ‘hide sidebar’ pill in the top-right (for no reason) and removed the ‘show this character in x font’ from Character viewer, rendering it useless, and Apple software has no “save as…” which renders all Apple software useless (well, Apple has been useless at making software for years – look at Final Cut Pro! Apple software is always the last to adopt any hardware updates – a lot of their software still plods along using one processor while Adobe/Autodesk/everyone else went multi-threaded about a decade ago!). And the things in the sidebar are all grey – no easy-to-find colours here. It really feels like some awful attempt to make Macs look and feel like iPads and iPhones. Very, very sad. But we all know that Apple now hates professionals and makes its billions selling silly little iPhones and other such disposable fashion trinkets to suckers who will queue round the block to part with £529 for a poxy phone. Profit margin on a £529 iPhone (R&D costs: nothing – just put a slightly bigger screen in an iPhone 4. Manufacturing costs: peanuts) versus a Mac Pro for $2500 (Manufacturing/shipping costs: $loads) = no brainer.

      • David says:

        And then there’s the poor workers sweating away at Foxconn.

        And this: Arms deals, gambling, Saddam Hussein and Apple

      • Sim says:

        I’m with you about the iPhone. Mac used to be so nice when it was just for the ‘different’ people. But now every Tom, Dick and Harry has the iPhone. Boooo. I have an LG Optimus – Rooted – running CM7 (gets rid of bloat ware) over clocked and it’s fine.
        Cost me $100- and now $25- PM unlimited data text and 300 mins calls. I really don’t need ‘the latest’ as I’m sure most people don’t. It’s become a cheap way to drive an expensive car. I’m more for Samsung Android phones.

  20. Ariel says:

    How would you open a battery that doesnt have the torx screws ? There’s no screws at all. Should I just pry it open ?

    • David says:

      I don’t claim expertise in these matters, Ariel. But I’m curious to know what model MacBook you have?

      It may be that there’s an instructional on a website like iFixit… probably, someone out there has tried to do this before you, so try and find them before you have a go at your own battery.

      I’m assuming you have detached it from the MacBook?

    • David says:

      If yours is a more recent model, you may be eligible for a replacement… again, not at all certain about this.

  21. Ariel says:

    Its the old 2008 model, david. & yes I have taken it out from the macbook.

  22. floofloo says:

    Hi David, my battery from Macbook pro mid 2009 got impregnanted like yours.
    Glad I found your post but unfortunately the battery is totally different with no screw to open and glued together by two piece of hard plastics.
    So there is no way to open and prick it unless I drill a hole on the plastic, which sounds very dangerous as there are videos on youtube showing drill (or push a nail in battery) can lead to explosion .
    I read some post saying apple sometime took pity on us poor mac users. so I went to the apple store in Eaton center of Toronto. The store is full of people who come for iphone5 or new ipad. I had to make a reservation on a store employee’s ipad for a genius to help me after 70 minutes of waiting.
    When the 20 something gum chewing genius showed up and heard my story, he didn’t even look at my macbook for more than a second before he casually dismissed my complain of malfunction battery. Then told me in I-know-better voice that this is in fact a safety feature of apple battery so ‘naive’ users won’t ABUSE the battery. I argued that I am not naive and have been discharge and recharge my battery in full at least monthly, and the battery still last 3 hours and has cycle of 100. He played deaf to it. Then he offered me a replacement of $179 CAD (~175 USD) plus 13% tax, and if I pay 10-20 dollar more, I can get one year apple care for my new replacement battery. oh, one more thing, they will help recycle my old battery for free if I decide to buy.
    I managed to suppress the urge to swear and declined his offer.

    Now I am considering alternatives, any one has drilled or pricked the new battery here?

    • David says:

      Very sorry, FlooFloo, don’t know what to advise.

      If it was me, and the battery was useless in its current form, I would probably be tempted to try drilling – very slowly and carefully, in a well-ventilated place, with my eyes and hands well-protected.

      If you do manage to fix it, please let us know.

  23. Jordan says:

    This just worked as well for my Droid Bionic’s year old battery. This thought had definitely passed through my mind, so reading it made perfect sense. Thanks a bunch! Oh…this seems to be a result of overcharging the battery…and yes, I’m guilty of leaving mine in the charger. Maybe the environment thing is a wash since I didn’t burn petrol to get a replacement. (If I wanted to walk I suppose two cans and a string might work for me instead.)

  24. Mike Penny says:

    The battery in my 4 year old 15” MacBook Pro started swelling about a month ago. It certainly affected thr trackpad. I read your idea of opening up the battery, took a look and saw some unique Y shaped screws, thought can’t do that then. Thought some more. Wondered if the production of gas inside was being prevented from escaping by the design and it just needed a little help. So.

    I have an old book press. I put some folded paper pads above and below the extracted battery in such a way as to put pressure on the central area of each face of the battery. I placed the whole thing into the press. At first I just applied a little pressure over night, then a bit more for five hours, and finally just a bit more pressure for yet a few more hours. After a total of 24 hours I took the whole thing out from the press. It was back to its original thickness. It is now back in the machine and has fully charged to show just under three hours of life left. MInd you I have never got three hours out of it, and I would be more than amazed if I got that now. I seldom need more than an hour, and most times the machine is permanently plugged into the mains.

    I will let you know how this progresses. . . . . . to be continued!

    • David says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Mike. Please let us know if this fix persists.

      • Mike Penny says:

        Well having ‘pressed’ the battery and made it thinner. It all worked fine for a day or two, holding its charge and showing what the charge was. Then (not surprisingly it swelled up again. So not to be outdone I pressed it again, this time with the careful use of a number of those small spring loaded clamps people use when gluing models together. This time the battery stayed thinner for longer, and still works. However after a few days it had swelled again. I now leave the bottom cover off and it is still going fine. If you want my opinion its is a poor design which Apple don’t admit to, and the venting system obviously fails. The worst part is the disruption to the mouse and track pad, taking the battery has cured that problem. Not good and if I want to travel about I will have to put the back cover on..

      • David says:

        My understanding is that Apple did acknowledge the problem, but restricted the terms of its battery swap arrangements that most people who have been affected have been unable to benefit…

  25. DonDroga says:

    Great replacement battery for MacBook Pro A1175 here: http://www.amazon.com/TechOrbits-replacement-battery-Apple-Macbook/dp/B007BWD4K8/ref=cm_cr-mr-title
    I bought one for my 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. I had a swollen battery after a trip to the Desert. I guess the extra heat did it in. It was also getting old. The replacement above has proved to be as good as the original.

  26. Ron says:

    I just ripped open the aluminum casing, it was already popped wide open due to severe swelling.
    So I had the battery pack and the plug connected with its wire.
    I revealed a small part of the silver pack under the white tape first, then used a sharp knife tip , and punctured all 3 cells (Mac unibody 2008). had 3 quick sparks, one was smoking for 2 seconds. patched up holes with tape . and just plugged it manually. works like a charm. hopefully won’t catch fire :^)
    Thanks for the great tip.
    P.S
    I”m 100% certain this is an Apple Cash milking scam.

    • Don Droga says:

      This is normal behavior for this type battery especially as they get older. Under certain conditions they will also expand – like excessive heat.

      • David says:

        If it’s normal, it should be advertised. Other laptops don’t seem to have this problem. It’s a manufacturing flaw, plain and simple, and Apple should take full responsibility for it, even on machines that are out of warranty.

      • Don Droga says:

        Normal when the battery is used in extreme conditions (hot) or it is old overly used.

  27. Koray says:

    Has anyone faced with an issue where the battery does not charge or discharge after this fix? It now shows the correct voltage value but the Amperage value is zero on System Information although it worked for the first time I charged the battery after the fix..

  28. Don Droga says:

    If it’s an old battery this will happen. It is common for all batteries of this type to swell after a certain point. If it’s new and under warranty – take it back.

    • David says:

      As I noted in the original post, Don – I don’t think it’s accurate to say ‘all batteries of this type swell after a certain point’ – certain generations of Macs seem to be unusually prone to this problem.

  29. Joost says:

    I’ve done this fix based on a different video yesterday, and I’m starting to worry a bit about the health risks. Does anyone have any details on what gasses we might have exposed? And is there no heightened fire risk after patching it up again? I’ve done the popping outside, but can’t be certain I did not inhale anything.. The ‘hold your breath’ thing wasn’t mentioned in the youtube video I saw on the subject..

    • David says:

      I think those are legitimate worries, Joost, which is why I raised them myself in the original post. Perhaps this fix is best seen as an interim measure to restore some measure of functionality until one can replace the battery or get a computer from a company that knows how to make batteries properly.

      • Mike Penny says:

        According to one source I found:-
        • Lithium may emit a colorless to pale yellow gas with a sharp, pungent odor.
        • The electrolyte contained in lithium cells can cause severe irritation to the respiratory tract,
        eyes, and skin.
        • Potential hazards may include the release of:
        − Thionyl chloride, bromine, chlorine dioxide, hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide and
        sulfuryl chloride gasses
        − Strongly acidic wastewater
        − Hydrogen from the reaction with water

        So the gas is probably hydrogen and the smell will include sulphur dioxide – which as all humans will know is smelly! You will be okay, if not a little irritated by the electrolyte – not to mention Apple! The hydrogen is explosive! and could cause all those nasty irritants to land on you. A spark from the battery (or anywhere else) is all you need for a bit of a bang.

        I would have thought a lithium-ion battery should have some means of releasing the gas in small quantities all through its life. So my view is still that Apple got the design wrong and the venting system has failed. That is what I would challenge them on.

      • Don Droga says:

        Seriously stop screwing around with your batteries!

  30. Dirk says:

    Hey, I once dismantled such a batt until the smell was gone (tried of course not to inhale too much). After that I put it to a fire; nothing happened! It just burned slowly and extinguished itself very quickly, not even smoke.
    So most of the magic had gasified.
    Hence, with the gas going, the batt will get weaker…

  31. gachecha says:

    Tried the fix and my battery died – holds 0 charge and laptop advices to replace it. I did make a tiny hole and never went deep…

  32. killthebear says:

    hi! gonna try this out in a few, just need to get the correct torx to screw my battery up (t5, am i right?).

    little tip – if you do not want to try David’s fix cause youre afraid or whatever – you can get your touchpad to work again by simply “unlocking” the battery. (dunno how it is with MBPs, im on mid 2007 MB and i use a coin to unlock my battery and be able to take it out – you can leave it unlocked, which will cause it to fall out when you try to lift up your MB, but the touchpad will work all fine)

  33. cody says:

    im in high school and we were issued these crappy ass mac book air and i dont know what fucking genius up there at apple decided it would be smart to have it set up were the battery affects the trackpad.. im a natural born hacker and gammer always been great with computers and any electronic really ,but keeping up with the schools constant no you cant have this blocking attitude requires a certain amount of dedication wich results into countless hours of sitting in front of my mac with it going nonstop.. i cant really do this to my mac but if you can come up with a way to fix the problem with out taking it apart that would be great. other wise i have found that using the very bottom of the track pad sslightly works or applying a little pressure every now and then relieves it a little but i really need a way that doesnt void the warranty

  34. Thas says:

    Greetings David! I tried this and here is a BIG CAUTIONARY note…
    when you prick a hole with a pin, you can see sparks even if you go as little as 1mm into the envelope! I did this and dropped the battery and ran for cover! I kid you not. When the sparks subsided, I took the battery in my hand and the particular cell felt warm. I covered the punctured hole with my finger and started looking around for a tape to cover the hole. After few minute or so very hot fumes started to escape through the hole and almost burnt my finger. Again, I carefully placed the battery on the floor and ran for cover. After white fumes escaped, I have placed the battery in a plastic bag. Now I am contemplating taking it to a local recycling depot because I’m scared to put that battery back in my macbook. I do not hold you responsible but wanted to share my scary story with others so that necessary precaution is taken by others who will attempt this.
    PS: try doing this when your neighbours are not looking at you :)

    • David says:

      Hello Thas – wow, sounds like you have quite an exciting battery!

      As I noted in my original post, this ‘fix’ is definitely to be attempted only with caution and at own risk.

      Glad that you’re recycling, at any rate!

  35. Rafael says:

    Would it help if I drained the battery first?

  36. liewzy says:

    Just know that I’m not the only person to have this issue!

  37. Pingback: Fix for Macbook Air audio problem: no sound | Leaves caution behind

  38. Cardo says:

    Everyone with a unibody MacBook Pro (2009 and onwards) that have a battery which can’t be opened with Torx screws: if you’re willing to sacrifice the aesthetics of the battery, you can pry it open. It took me about an hour to finally get it open and pry the defective battery cell out, but it worked.

    Start off by removing the black lining that runs over the battery cells (just tear it off, you won’t be putting it back on) and wedging a knife or anything sharp in between the connector area where the connector comes out of and move your way towards the end of the battery pack, not around the corner. Just keep wedging and using force to break the seal open to access the battery cells. You won’t need to pry open the entire top case of the battery pack, just enough to get access to the cells that need replacing, it seems that most people have a problem with the left-most (the one right under the trackpad) cell, in my case, it was the top cell.

    I had to remove the pregnant cell since the unibody Mac battery cells seem a bit different that those depicted on pictures of pre-2009 MacBooks, so I wasn’t going to screw around and just cut the cables to the cell and removed it entirely. The packs are held together in two, one on the top and one on the bottom, so once you’ve removed the top lid enough to get access to the cables connecting the packs, just use a credit card to wedge and remove the adhesive between the top and lower cells.

    Mind you, this WILL leave your battery looking pretty terrible as you’ll most likely end up breaking some plastic not from the seams, but close to them, so you won’t be able to just clip it back together normally. I used a bunch of electrical tape to tighten and firm the pack back up, had minor difficulties pushing the pack back in the laptop, but after some harder taping and using just a bit of force to push it back in, it went in and everything seems to be working, the battery is charging, the trackpad works flawlessly and I’m using 5 cells instead of 6.

    PS! Be careful when prying the case open and START AT THE CONNECTOR, it’s practically impossible to start anywhere else and you might end up jamming your knife/tool into a cell instead, the connector is far away enough not to pierce anything vital.

    You might also get some sparks when cutting the cables loose I used a knife to saw them off at first, when I switched to scissors, it worked well), at first it startled me for a second, but apparently, it’s nothing to worry about as the author mentioned, as well.

  39. Mike Penny says:

    Cripes!

  40. scottbohlen says:

    I work for a school District and have a LOT of these bloated batteries… so I found your blog super helpful! I have also found that taking apart the battery shell is easiest with a black stick and a heat gun. Quickly heating one side on high then sliding a “black stick” under and moving back and forth will aid in popping it and not bend it out of shape. Do both long sides and then the one end where the lock engages. The electrical connector end seems to pop on its own once lifted from the locking end. I then figured out to unfold the side of the envelope of the cell and simply cut into that fold… it allows the gas to escape and doesnt cause a spark hazard. Then push out the gas bubble and repeat on the other bloated cells. This also works well with the cells that in the lower set, underneath the top set. Use a very small scissor to slightly cut into that fold on the side front corner.
    For the batteries with the screws… use a T5.. and similar procedure as above.

    • David says:

      Thanks Scott – I think you’ve offered the best solution for opening the batteries without screws. Glad this has been of assistance!

  41. Mike Penny says:

    Having done these cuts and reassembled the batteries, how did well did they perform afterwards?

  42. Christopher Mitchell says:

    David, right? This is Christopher Mitchell, and I had swollen battery problems of my own. I did like you instructed, and of course, paid heed to your warnings about the noxious gases. I only poked holes in four of the silver envelopes that were visibly swollen. I don’t what’s going to happen, but for now, this has fixed the problem of my trackpad’s performance. I just wanted to thank you for the helpful instructions that you provided. (And marvel at the fact that this isn’t happening with just me, but others too, and that this is a blatant defect in Apple’s product.)

    Thank you very much!

    – Christopher Mitchell

    • David says:

      Pleasure, Chris, glad it helped. A few people have asked how long this ‘fix’ works for, so if you feel like reporting back in a couple of months, that’d be great. (Mine worked for three weeks before the computer was stolen.)

      • Christopher Mitchell says:

        I have ask you something, and it’s really minor. What kind of tape did you use for the holes in the silver envelope? I used black insulation tape for the holes, but lately, I’m thinking that is really not going to be enough.

        Which is why I took out the battery and checking things over again. Again, the obvious reality is that I will be left with no choice but to replace the battery in its entirety- that future is imminent.

        Reply whenever you can. And thank you for taking the time to read this.

        – Christopher Mitchell

      • David says:

        Hi Christopher,

        I used ordinary stationery-type sticky tape/Scotch tape. I think insulation tape is probably fine. The idea (I have no idea if this actually works) is not to provide a perfect seal, but to provide a one-way seal. In other words, to permit a slow release of whatever new vapours may be emitted by the battery, while minimising the amount of oxygen that enters. I cant think of an improvement on your current arrangement. Hope this helps.

  43. Martin says:

    I’m an idiot. Don’t ever try what I did yesterday. My MacBook battery looked liked it was going to explode and I didn’t have a torx screwdriver to take it apart. I just pinched a few holes into it using a knife… what followed was sparks, huge amount of smoke… I threw the battery on my balcony praying my neighbors wouldn’t call the fire dept, it started burning, the plastic parts melted down…
    Then I bought a new battery and I googled your blog… I wish I wasn’t stupid and read your advice before :/

    • David says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Martin! A useful cautionary tale, with quite a lot of entertainment value. ;) Though I’m sure it was alarming at the time.

  44. Arkonova says:

    Please everyone STOP doing that right now! Pinching holes in a lithium battery is just one of the best ways to start a violent fire and burn your house down. What happened to Martin above is simply obvious!

    Even if this trick works temporarly, you are taking a very strong risk for it to catch fire anytime after.

    Seriously PLEASE STOP! And dispose* of any swollen or deformed lithium batteries as soon as possible. (*No, not in the trash! Go to an Apple Store or your local batteries collection point)

    • David says:

      Hello bossy boots. As I’ve always said, this is a fix to be undertaken with some caution, and should probably be regarded as temporary. But the fact is, this post has been read by literally tens of thousands of people, and no-one has come back to report that their house burnt down.

  45. nadiaface says:

    My track pad broke down in pieces, so I thougtht id remove the top layer, and tiny metal particles came out of it and it also cut my thumb a bit, does anyone know if its toxic? im worried some of those particles might be inside my thumb.

  46. Dave says:

    If anyone is worried about the harm from releasing all those potentially-toxic gases into the atmosphere (!), realize the problem stems from a lack of clearance between the bottom of the laptop (i.e. the swollen battery) and the surface it’s sitting on.

    First thing to do is check if the rubber feet are missing from your laptop (as mine were) and get replacements; or simply get 4 rubber washers from the hardware store and super-glue them to the corners of the bottom of your laptop.

    Problem fixed!

    Dave

    • Dave says:

      Oh, this is a replacement battery for a 17″ MBP 4,1 (Early 2008, the pre-unibody model) which I schmoozed for free from an Apple Store about three years ago, and was befuddled when the track-pad started acting up a few days ago. Then I remembered the exact same symptoms from few years ago, when the original battery started to swell as it got older.

      This replacement battery is a few years old, and shows 414 cycles, and shows 2 hours run time available when fully-charged (down from 4-5 hrs max, IIRC, when it was new).

  47. Bob says:

    I’ve got a 2009 Macbook Pro 17″ and I did this as well. You just gotta be careful you puncture only the plastic to release the gas. On the 17″ macbook battery there were 2 pockets I had to puncture. The second one I guess I wasn’t careful enough and it did cause a very small spark so what Arkonova says is true, it can be dangerous. But I taped the holes back up and so far my macbook is working fine and my trackpad is clickable again.

  48. Valda Redfer. says:

    I just tried a similar fix on the battery for my 2007 white MacBook. (I hadn’t read your blog, my info was from a video on YouTube.) My battery case had no screws, but the aluminium cover was easy to remove anyway. The battery had been swollen for quite a long time, so maybe the pressure alone had prised the cover away. Anyway, I discharged the battery before removing it, and used a wooden chopstick to pierce holes in the silver envelopes. That worked: no drama, no visible puffs of gas, just a sharp smell when I pressed down on the silver envelopes to squeeze out any residual gas. The battery is still a bit swollen now (I only did the packs on the upper side), but it’s a lot slimmer, and no longer presses against the tracker pad. It seems to be charging up OK.

  49. Pingback: Swollen MacBook Battery – Possible Fix | Koray Alkan

  50. zellerzeller says:

    You should amend your safety disclaimer. As following your fix might blow someone up someday…
    Lithium is flammable, and it is potentially explosive when exposed to air and especially to water. As swelling occurs due to the overcharge, native lithium is already deposited in the cells. Opening them is the same as playing Russian roulette.

  51. James Burk says:

    Thanks for the fix. I have a 7 year old MacBook Pro 17 inch and I just pried off the battery cover and stuck the battery pack and it works fine. This is after 775 cycles so this is an old worn out battery but hey it is charging again and seems to be working. Thanks for the tip! I will let you know if it ever blows up LOL!

  52. Testy says:

    Just pierced my swollen battery using the following method:
    Donned overalls, rubber gloves, goggles and mask.
    Put battery (top and inner cover removed) inside a large plastic bag outdoors.
    Squeezed centre of swollen plastic membrane untll corner is inflated, then pierced horizontally through plastic membrane. Remove from bag. Replace top cover leaving inner cover off.

    • Roberto Quinto says:

      Not only my macbook pro battery, my iphone 3GS also swollen to the degre that crack the polycarbonate back cover, and this one is not so easy to replace. I just waiting my iphone 5S to swollen, then will try with a pin.

  53. Kristi Berlt says:

    My favorite part is that it’s now a “thing” at the Apple Store. “Yea so after your battery cycles x number of times it swells and has to be replaced. Pretty standard.” In what universe is this standard??

  54. m.casto says:

    This thread has probably been long forgotten but it nears answering my question… Im wondering if I can simply switch out the covers on the white and black batteries to get a color matching macbook and battery?

  55. CDavis says:

    I have a 17″ MacBook Pro purchased August 2007. The battery swelled up once several years ago–trackpad stopped working–and local Apple store replaced it, no charge. Now that battery has swollen to the point that both sides–opposite corners top and bottom–have popped open. I removed it carefully as it appeared to be leaking slightly. Prior to finding it in this shape, the laptop was running very hot, almost too hot to touch at the back where the screen is hinged to the keyboard. My question is whether it is worth it at this point to purchase another battery for this machine. Will it give me several more years of use? Apple no longer offers service to “vintage” machines; Mac Pros, who are located near me and service the iMacs in our TV studio at school, are also not permitted to look at these machines–a ruling that came out of Apple last fall. My machine looks like new and might benefit from a new hard drive as well, but I would like to make as educated a “guess” as possible before putting several hundred dollars into this old machine. When you consider the cost of a new one, however, several hundred for a couple of years doesn’t seem too bad.

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