Flashback: Disappearing Apple

Flashback: Disappearing Apple

I love electronic music, but lately looking up on stage at shows seems more and more like a perfect photo op for an Apple ad. I also love my Mac, but in a dark, nightclub setting, that glowing Apple elevated on stage is a distraction. It reminds me of an article in MAKE Volume 09 by Tom Owad where he shared his process for removing the Apple from an iBook. Owad took it a step further and not only got rid of the Apple on the lid, but also used some open source tools to remove the Apples from the operating system. Bear in mind that this article ran in March of 2007; he was working with Mac OS X 10.3 and a couple of the tools no longer seem to be up and running, but I think it’s still a good read nonetheless and maybe some folks out there know of current alternatives they can share in the comments below. Now I need to print it out and distribute to some musicians I know. Enjoy.

Disappearing Apple
Removing the logo from an iBook.
By Tom Owad

I am writing a book/TV documentary for Canongate and the BBC called Bonfire of the Brands. The short story is that I am attempting to overcome my addiction to brands by burning all my branded stuff on a great bonfire on 17th September 2006. Afterwards, I will be attempting to live a life brand-free.”

This was the introduction to an email I received from Neil Boorman last August. It continued, “I have allowed myself one luxury which will be spared from the fire, which is my iBook. But to keep it, I must de-brand the thing, which is why I’m contacting you.”

There’s a particular problem with removing the iBook’s Apple logo: it leaves an Apple-shaped hole. To circumvent this problem, I considered a number of techniques, from molding an entirely new lid, to simply covering the Apple with a big white sticker. Ultimately, I decided the best way was to cut out the logo on a milling machine, then mill a replacement piece out of another lid. I called PreOwned Electronics and ordered a stack of grade B iBook lids to experiment on, then headed down to the garage.


My mill is a Homier Mini-Mill (and currently halfway through a homebrew CNC conversion). I mounted the lid on the mill, outside down, using a clamping kit. The Mini-Mill was just big enough for the job — half an inch less travel on the Y-axis would have made the job extremely difficult.


I loaded a 1″ end mill and cut out a rectangle around the Apple logo. Because end mills are round, the mill can’t cut inside right angles, so I then removed the lid from the clamps and filed the corners down (this only took about two strokes with the file).


To make the inset, I took another iBook lid and hacksawed it down to a bit bigger than I needed; I then clamped it into the mill and milled it down to the exact size.


Next I filed off all the burrs and snapped the piece into the lid. A little super glue on the inside of the case held everything snugly in place, but still left a visible crack around the perimeter of the rectangle. I filled this with Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty, then sanded it down.


Finally, I spray-painted the lid with Gloss White Krylon Fusion for Plastic. To prevent light from shining through where the logo used to be, I merely taped on a piece of aluminum foil.

Removing the logos from the operating system (Mac OS X 10.3) was much easier, thanks to a share-ware app by Geekspiff called ThemePark (geekspiff.com/software/themepark) [Version 4.1 has been released, and you can use it to customize Snow Leopard] and CodeServant’s open source application ThemeChanger (codeservant.com/themechanger.php) [this no longer exists; anyone know of an alternative?]. ThemePark presents a window with the graphical elements in the user interface and allows the user to just drag and drop replacement images over them. I replaced each Apple logo with Neil’s initials. Once I was finished with my changes, I saved the theme and installed it with ThemeChanger.

The boot panel — the window that appears during startup with the Apple logo and progress bar — can be modified just by replacing the PDF stored at /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemStarter/QuartzDisplay.bundle/Resources/BootPanel.pdf. This leaves a single Apple logo: the dark grey apple that first appears when you turn on your Mac. With Ryan Schmidt’s Startup Syringe (ryandesign.com/jagboot) [need an updated version], replacing it is just drag and drop.

About the Author:

Tom Owad is a Macintosh consultant in York, Pa., and editor of Applefritter (applefritter.com). He is the author of Apple I Replica Creation (Syngress, 2005).

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

View more articles by Goli Mohammadi


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