Black Bezel for Macbook Air

Hello everyone I’m going to talk about a project I just finished.

Last year, I bought the 13″ Macbook Air (MBA), and though I love it, I was really waiting for the 13″ retina Macbook Pro (rMBP) to be released this year. However once it finally came out, I was a bit disappointed.  Yes, it had a retina display, however even that does not run at native resolution, instead scaling to 1280×800, 1440×900, or 1680×1050.   The MBA runs at native 1440×900, and the 2012 model features similar graphics/processor performance to the new rMBP.

So, I decided that rather then buy the new rMBP, I’d upgrade my MBA to this years model which gives me improved graphics performance, the 720p HD front camera (from VGA, .3 vs 1.3mp), and nearly double SSD speed.  However, one aesthetic feature that I really liked about the MBP line was the black bezel around the screen.

So the DIY’er in me searched the net for a way to make it happen.  I checked a few sites and found  a guy who was selling black bezel stickers.  I sent him a few emails and soon a kit was on its way 😉  Below are the steps I took to apply the sticker 🙂

He sent me a yellow sticker to test, and the black one which I asked for.

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The yellow was was actually very different from the black one and applying that one did not give me much practice, but here’s what it looked like when applied:

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Ok, next, the black bezel 😉

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Everything looks like it lines up fine… One thing I learned from the yellow bezel was to first make a few cuts to the transfer film to make it easier to pull off of the sticker while applying.

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I make 4 of those cuts, one on each side.

Next, I focused on getting the camera lined up, luckily I could see through the transfer film once it touched the frame (it’s too bad they don’t have a transparent transfer film).  You can see here that I was a little off on my first try:

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Ok, after some careful placement, I got it on, however I was not satisfied with it since It seemed that the sticker was a bit small, and some areas might actually touch the screen.

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You can see it was not fully applied yet.  Directions: start at the camera hole, holding the upper left and right corners of the bezel, once the camera is centered, apply the rest of the top while stretching just a tiny bit, then once the corners are stuck, go down the sides, continuing to stretch just a bit until you reach the bottom on both sides, then align the bottom of the sticker, still stretching to the left and right.

Now, once it is applied, it’s difficult to take up without scarring the plastic.  Tip: use some stickly tape to pull back the edges that you want to reapply:

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Now that you’ve got a handle, straighten the side and reapply.

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However, don’t make the mistake that I did of stretching it too much (easy to do since the sticker stretches when you pull it off the frame to realign it).

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You can see the silver frame on the bottom right 😦  Oh, and another tip, make sure you have lots of light where you are working, and be very very patient 🙂  Here’s another shot with the helper tape on the corners… almost there:

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Now, similar to when you apply screen protectors, you will get bubbles under the sticker.However it’s not easy to use a plastic card to push them out since the stickers is not as firm as a screen protector, and is also much more adhesive.

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Also, some areas that were stretched will never go their original size:

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In the end, I would recommend using two of the same bezels, the first to practice and the second to actually put it on the right way.  Here is the finished product next to a stock mac air.

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