What Mac do you have? Here’s how to find out

There are lots of reasons why you might need find out what kind of Mac or MacBook you have. Perhaps you are planning to sell a used Mac and you want find out what it’s worth. If you are selling your Mac, you’ll also want to be able to accurately let the buyer know what they’re getting. 

Maybe you are the one buying a second-hand Mac and you want to check that you aren’t about to purchase an antique model that won’t have the power to deal with your day to day tasks.

Alternatively, you may be wondering if you should update the operating system and want to be sure that the latest version of macOS won’t break your computer. When the next version of macOS arrives on Macs in the fall you may be wondering if your Mac is able to run it – if you don’t know which Mac you have then you will be none the wiser. Read: What version of macOS can my Mac run? for advice.

In this article we will help you find out the model identifier, serial number and other information that can help you identify which Mac model you have and how old it is.

The different types of Macs

Before we get our detective hats on it’s useful to run through the different types of Mac Apple sells – or has sold. Apple currently makes six types of Mac. Over the years the company has sold Macs that have since been discontinued, such as the 27in iMac, the iMac Pro and the MacBook.

Currently there are two varieties of Mac laptop:

  • MacBook Air (13in)
  • MacBook Pro (13in, 14in and 16in)

And there are four varieties of Mac desktop:

  • Mac mini
  • iMac (24in)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro
Apple sells a mix of Mac laptops and desktops.

Apple

There are a number of key differences between the Mac models Apple sells. While some Macs are targeted purely at power users, such as the Mac Studio and the Mac Pro, other Mac categories can meet the needs of pros and home users alike thanks to the big differences in terms processor and graphics power on offer. For example, the divide between the 13in MacBook Pro and 16in MacBook Pro is vast. To find out more about the different Macs Apple makes read our Mac Buying Guide here.

How to tell what Mac you have: Easy method

There’s an easy way to identify exactly which Mac or MacBook you have:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your Mac.
  2. This will bring up a drop-down menu. Pick the top option: About This Mac.
  3. The resulting window detail what type of Mac it is, e.g. iMac (27-inch, Late 2013) or in the case below Mac mini (M1 2020)
You can find a basic overview showing which Mac model you have – as long as you can turn it on.

Foundry

If you don’t have access to the Mac in question, or you can’t access the menu because the Mac won’t turn on, you won’t be able to access this information. However, you should still be able to determine which Mac model it is if you follow the steps below.

How to find a Mac’s serial number

Every Mac has a serial number that uniquely defines it, so if you can find out the serial number you should be able to identify the Mac. There are a few reasons why you may need to find your Mac’s serial number. Your serial number helps you obtain warranty service, it could help with a technical issue, it will alert you if the Mac has been recalled due to a known fault, and, in the unfortunate circumstances of having your Mac stolen, it may help you recover it.

The serial number is shown in About This Mac’s main screen (as seen above, although we’ve grayed out the actual serial number there). It can also be found in the Hardware Overview in System Report (System Information/More Information on older macOS versions). Just click on the Apple Menu > About This Mac.

Assuming you have registered the Mac with your Apple ID, you will also be able to find it if you visit the Apple ID site. Here you will also be able to find the serial number for devices registered to your account in the Devices section.

Just click on the product to see information including the serial number.

Foundry

You will also find the serial number on the Mac itself. It is usually located on the underside, but the location of your serial number depends on the Mac model.

Here’s a list of Macs with the locations where you will probably find the serial number and other information:

  • iMac: Found on the base of the computer. Be sure to switch off your iMac, disconnect the wires and then flip it over, preferably on a soft surface, to reveal the numbers. If you would like to see a visual representation – visit Apple’s website.
  • MacBook Air: Found on the back surface of the laptop. The location of the numbers will differ between models post-2012, 2010-2011 and Original-2009; however on all MacBook Airs, the numbers will be at the back surface of the laptop. If you would like to see a visual representation –  visit Apple’s website.
  • MacBook Pro: Found on the back surface of the laptop. For really old MacBook Pros that are dated pre-2008 the location of the numbers will be found within the laptop. If you would like to see a visual representation – visit Apple’s website.
  • Mac Pro pre-2013 (Tower computer): Found on the computer’s back panel, near the video card’s output. If you would like to see a visual representation –  visit Apple’s website.
  • Mac Pro 2013 (Cylinder computer): Found on the bottom surface of the computer. Be sure to switch off the Mac Pro before turning it over. If you would like to see a visual representation – visit Apple’s website.
  • Mac Pro 2019: You will find the serial number printed on the underside of the Mac, near the regulatory markings – visit Apple’s website.
  • Mac mini: Found on the bottom surface of the computer. If you would like to see a visual representation – visit Apple’s website.

Another way to find the model and serial number of your Mac is to to check the original packaging or the original receipt/invoice – that’s to say, if you still have them!

Once you have located the serial number you can enter it in the AppleCare coverage lookup page on Apple’s site to also find out the human-readable model name.

How to find your Mac model identifier

While it’s simple enough to locate the model name by clicking on the Apple Menu > About This Mac, sometimes you need a little more information than the product name and year to identify your exact Mac model. Apple also lists the model identifier, which can tell you more about the Mac.

To find the model number of your Mac follow these instructions:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your Mac.
  2. This will bring up a drop-down menu. Pick the top option: About This Mac.
  3. Click on System Report (or on Macs running older operating systems, click on More Information).
  4. In the Hardware Overview you will see the Model Identifier.

Note that the model identifier can be shared by more than one Mac, so you will still need more information to confidently identify the Mac in question.

How to find your Mac model number

Apple also assigns a model number to its Macs. This number may be used for a single edition of Macs based on CPU and other factors or might span a dozen or more distinct versions of model line. EveryMac offers insight on this topic—which is that it’s impossible to know Apple’s choices here. Models numbers (sometimes called “family numbers”) look like A2179. They’re printed on your Mac.

How to find the marketing part number

Apple also assigns a part number to its devices that can define the country for which it manufactured a particular configuration of hardware or a combination of characteristics, like the difference between a space gray and gold MacBook Air. This number is printed on a Mac and on the packaging that came with it. It looks like MGND3LL/A (a 13-inch M1-based 2020 MacBook Air in gold).

This is worth checking if you think the Mac you are buying secondhand might have originally been bought elsewhere.

How to find how old your Mac is

Finding out how old your Mac is an important step towards uncovering the details of the components Apple used inside it.

Once you know when the Mac in question was launched (which isn’t necessarily when it was purchased) you can find out which generation of processor is inside as well as other information that may help you determine whether it’s better of worse than another Mac.

To find out the age of a Mac follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your Mac.
  2. This will bring up a drop-down menu. Pick the top option: About This Mac.
  3. The resulting window should show you the information you need, e.g. iMac (27-inch, Late 2013).

That date is when that particular generation of Mac launched. It may be that the Mac was manufactured and purchased some time after that date, so it may not be that old physically.

For example, you can buy a new Mac mini from Apple right now (a 3.0GHz Intel-powered model), but that model hasn’t been updated since 2018.

Once you know the date the model was introduced, you can find out information about the processor and other components inside it, as we explain here: How to check the specs of your Mac: find out processor and RAM information.

How to identify your Mac visually

Apple doesn’t frequently make major design changes, so some Macs are easy to identify by looks alone and you will probably be confident that you are looking at a Mac mini or an iMac, for example. However, it won’t necessarily be obvious if the 27in iMac you are looking at is a decade old or only a couple of years old because Apple hadn’t updated the design in a long time.

The iMac has changed a lot over the years, but before the 24in iMac arrived it had stood still for a while.

Mac laptops can be a little more difficult to distinguish from one another. One simple way to check what kind of Mac laptop you have is to open the lid of your Mac laptop – you will possibly see the name of the model printed on the black bar below the screen. That’s as long as you don’t have a MacBook Pro from between 2012 and 2016 – Apple removed the name from the bezel for a number of years, but the name returned in later models.

Screen

If your Mac has a screen, measuring the screen diagonally can help you identify which model it is. However, you should keep in mind that Apple tends to round up or round down the screen measurement when naming it’s MacBooks.

You could have any of the following screen sizes, depending on the age of your Mac:

  • 13.3-inches – 13in MacBook Pro or MacBook Air
  • 14.2-inches – 14in MacBook Pro from 2021
  • 16-inches – 16in MacBook Pro from 2019 or earlier
  • 16.2-inches – 16in MacBook Pro from 2021
  • 21.5-inches – 21.5in iMac (discontinued)
  • 23.5-inches – 24in iMac from 2021
  • 27-inches – 27in iMac or iMac Pro (discontinued)

Another way to distinguish is the screen quality – older MacBook Air’s from before 2018, and some older models of the MacBook Pro do not have Retina displays. Retina displays have more pixels for a superior image.

Colour

The pre-2018 MacBook Air was only available in silver, while the newer design of the MacBook Air (which is slimmer) comes in Gold, Space Grey and Silver.

The MacBook Pro has always had a metal case since its introduction in 2006 (when it replaced the PowerBook G4 series). Initially the MacBook Pro was a silver aluminium finish, but since 2016 it has come in Space Grey or Silver.

The 24in iMac comes in a variety of colours including blue, green, pink, silver, orange, yellow and purple. The discontinued 21.5 and 27in iMac models were encased in aluminium and had been since 2007. If your iMac is white (or any other shade of plastic), it’s much older. On the other hand, if your iMac is Space Grey then it’s an iMac Pro.

When Apple introduced the Mac mini in 2005 it was white and silver, the design didn’t change significantly until 2010 when it got an all aluminium case, and again in 2011 when it lost the optical drive. In 2018 the Mac mini went pro with a Space Grey case. Then when the M1 Mac mini arrived in 2020 it returned to an aluminium case.

If you have a Mac Pro that’s black and looks a little like a trash can, then you have the 2013 Mac Pro. If it’s an aluminium box with a cheese-grater front then it’s one of the models with an Intel-processor inside that Apple launched between 2006 and 2012. Or, if those holes on the front are a bit larger and look a bit like alien faces, then you’ve got the newest Mac Pro. If it’s got a plastic case then you have a pre-Intel Mac Pro.

Source : Macworld