Finding hardware instructions in Apple’s Knowledge Base

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
May 11th, 2003 • 1:02 am

I’ve just spent the best part of an hour trying to locate instructions on how to take apart a slot-loading iMac to locate and eventually replace its lithium battery.

Incredibly, there doesn’t seem to be anything about it. I found a KB article with a link to a PDF file with instructions on how to replace the lithium battery in a tray-loading iMac. The PDF’s “part number” is 033-1208. But it’s only for tray-loading iMacs, even though the description of the PDF file doesn’t say so. And there’s no equivalent on this page for slot-loading iMacs.

(I found a page indicating that replacing the lithium battery in a flat-panel iMac is best left to authorized professionals, presumably because things are packed so tightly in that hemispheric base. I won’t ever try that, then.)

Yet there is nothing that indicates that replacing the lithium battery in a slot-loading iMac is more difficult than in a tray-loading iMac, for which the instructions are readily available.

The KB article for “customer-installable parts procedures” for the slot-loading iMac only lists procedures for AirPort cards and memory modules, neither of which involve going beyond opening the small access door. Replacing the battery obviously does, because it cannot be accessed through that small access door. You have to remove the larger plastic back panel.

I know, because I tried this morning. And I couldn’t get the back panel off. I was able to remove the screws, and the back panel was no longer attached at one end. But at the other end it appeared to be slotted in, and I didn’t seem to be able to get it off without breaking something, so I didn’t go any further.

Since Apple’s own Knowledge Base is obviously incomplete, I tried Google instead. Searching for keywords such as “replace battery iMac slot” didn’t get me anywhere, and I was starting to worry that I would never be able to find such instructions. Then I thought of using the keywords “taking apart iMac slot”. Good idea! A whole new set of search results appeared. Unfortunately, the top result, for which the description seemed to indicate that it was exactly what I needed, was password-protected. How can web pages be password-protected and still get indexed by Google? I don’t know…

Luckily, result #3 was a link to a MacWorld page with an extensive tutorial on how to take your iMac apart, covering both tray-loading and slot-loading iMacs, with pictures. Phew!

I quickly saved the tutorial as a PDF file in my precious “Help” folder, which contains all kinds of useful bits of information for a would-be Mac tech guy like me, who mostly deals with software and has no real training on the hardware side of things.

Still, I can’t help but wonder why there isn’t such a tutorial in Apple’s own Knowledge Base. Based on the MacWorld article, it doesn’t look much more complicated than for the tray-loading iMac, for which a KB tutorial is readily available. Are they trying to keep such information away from the general public, so that resellers can make more money by telling Mac users that they cannot do such things themselves? Is there a “secret” database of documents that only certified resellers have access to?

14 Responses to “Finding hardware instructions in Apple’s Knowledge Base”

  1. David Anderson says:

    You know, I managed to replace the battery in my slot loading iMac without removing the case, with a bit of fiddling you can reach the battery through the access hatch, I only had to remove the airport card to get my fingers inside.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I don’t know if I’d recommend this myself :).Taking the slot-loading iMac is really not that hard once you get a hold of the instructions. The problem is that these instructions are not readily available on Apple’s site.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    You’re most welcome :).

    FWIW, I’ve since found through experience that opening up the flat-panel iMac is not that hard either…

  4. Daniel says:

    Thanks alot for posting this it was VERY helpful and your right about Apple’s site not having any formal documentation. I think that is rediculous as well.

    Thanks again,


  5. Steve says:

    Thank you for your slot loading iMac documentation. It was impossible to find!

  6. Joe C says:

    Thanks for sharing the research – came in very handy!

    It makes me think, though, is there something wrong with the batteries that Apple used in iMacs in 2001? They should last up to five years, but they can’t manage two. I’ve a friend who has a PC that’s at least 10 years old, and the battery is still fine!

    It seems to be quite a common problem. Apple’s webpage which mentions the batteries makes it sound uncommon to want to turn the mains power off!

  7. Pierre Igot says:

    Bad batch of batteries? I doubt it… They are pretty standard. The iMacs I have had to deal with are from 1999. Four years is not that abnormal.

    Having just had to take another one apart (only to find that the battery was fine), I have to note another design-related issue: Make sure you use a magnetized screwdriver to get the six screws that hold the metal casing off. It’s far too easy to drop them inside the iMac shell, and then good luck trying to get them out.

  8. Steve Horton says:

    I’d also like to thank Pierre as I have just travelled exactly the same journey to get to this point where the only info available on the Web for installing a new battery is on the MacWorld site – which I only discovered by arriving here.



  9. David says:

    I Googled and Googled and Googled until I came across your page for access to the slot iMac. I, too changed the lithium battery through the access door. A pair of latex gloves were perfect for grip and insulation.

    Many, many thanks for the information which should have been on Apple’s site!


  10. derek morton says:

    Thanks for the info: like all the rest I was beginning to despair!!!!

  11. Helen says:

    Thank you for your post, without it I would have spent even more than
    the hour it took to find your info. I’m really surprised that Apple missed
    this one. Thanks for the other commentsw as well, I’m trying battery replacement through the little door first, the other looks to be too time consuming.
    Thanks again, Helen

  12. Phil says:

    My computer is dead, only the power switch light comes on, no noise or anything… Does that mean i need to install a new battery, or that something else is terribly wrong?

  13. Phil says:

    No… Tried it something else is terribly wrong.

  14. RIch Stevens says:

    I agree with Mr. Anderson. Replacing the battery in my slot-loading iMac through the access hatch was a snap! (You can pull the engine on a ’79 Ford and replace the battery, or you can just lift up the hood and replace the battery!)

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