I've got a MacBook Pro with Retina display and I've got a ton of stickers on it. Is there a method for removing the stickers from the back without damaging the finish and without leaving sticky residue on the laptop?

Is this something I can get help with from the Genius Bar?

My 15" Retina MacBook

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    Please do not add the answer to the question, it confuses both users and the search function. – nohillside Dec 13 '15 at 16:24
  • I've seen that practice all across Stack Exchange sites and never seen it to be an issue. I've also selected an answer. Is this a new rule that's being enforced? – Moshe Dec 13 '15 at 17:08
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    Nothing new about how to self-answer a question. I'm not aware of any sites that don't have the same self-answer policy of asking the question only in the Q and the answer only in the A. Feel free to ask on Ask Different Meta if there are other sites where this is documented differently in the help. We can sort that out if needed... – bmike Dec 29 '15 at 17:24

18 Answers 18

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Just peel off the stickers.

The best thing for removing the residue is Teatree oil. You can get it from Walgreens in the US, and most chemists in Australia.

Just soak some cotton wool (or other soft cloth) in the oil (so you don't scratch the surface of your MacBook) and wipe until no residue is left.

Because the oil is viscous I would make sure that your TimeMachine backup is up to date before use. Don't kiss your brand new looking Mac as the oil is poisonous if ingested.

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    Rubbing alcohol does the trick too, when removing stickers residues. – Thecafremo Dec 23 '13 at 8:49
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    @Thecafremo And unlike Teatree oil you can lick your laptop afterwards and enjoy it. – Deesbek Dec 23 '13 at 16:35
  • Eeeeewwww! Who would lick a laptop? – Moshe Aug 11 '15 at 16:06

Some stickers are made with a water soluble glue, others with an organic soluble glue. Peel what you can off first, by hand. Once you've pried an edge up, pull slowly and carefully, not letting the angle between laptop surface and label get too large. That encourages separation of lable and glue layer. If it comes off clean, great! If not, fingernails, or a guitar pick can often get the last bits off without surface damage. If you've still got some residue, try soapy water. Give it some time to work, then go with the fingernail/guitar pick. If no joy, the glue is probably organic soluble. Any of the Limonene based orange oil cleaners should take care of that for you. Orange cleaner is available in any hardware store, and most grocery stores.

I first peeled off the paper sticker and then rubbed softly with alcohol wipes. It came off surprisingly fast. I can see the shiny apple again.

  • Worked for me just fine! – Jash Jacob Sep 24 '14 at 14:35

I've found it most effective to use a combination of hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. They hydrogen peroxide may seem a little weird, but it does a much better job at cleaning up large clumps of goo (in my limited experience). My process:

  1. Peel off as much of the sticker as possible
  2. Pat a paper towel (or another cloth) with hydrogen peroxide and rub away large spots of goo
  3. Pat another paper towel with rubbing alcohol and rub remaining streaks away for a nice polished finish

If you're in the UK then there's a wonderful thing called 'sticky stuff remover' which pretty much DWISOTT - I have to confess I haven't used it on my MBP yet (though I have stickers on it so I may need to at some point!) but I very much doubt it will damage the surface.

I recommend acetone (nail polish remover). It's not as toxic as some of these other recommendations.

I used some nailpolish remover, worked just fine! :)

I've found I can get a lot of the residue off with the sticker itself. After removing, then with your index finger press the backing of the sticker firmly onto a spot of residue and a lot of the residue comes right off on to the sticker backing. Repeat many times. I can get 90+% of the residue off this way. Then rubbing alcohol whatever to get the lingering stuff.

Goo Off will take anything off of anything. It's amazing and highly toxic so wear rubber gloves and be careful not to let it drip into the actual computer or any crevices.

Sticky label remover (UK), it reactivates the glue so you can peel off the stickers and reuse them (i.e. It makes dried glue sticky again) it comes in a spray can with a 90 degree pointy nozzle.

I have used Goo Gone, orange liquid, to remove a sticker from the back of an iPad.

  • To clarify another answer, use the edit link below the answer that you wish to edit. I've removed that content from your answer. – grg Aug 11 '15 at 18:43

I used nail polish remover with a towel and it worked wonders, I wouldn't anything else. Once I was finished I used these anti-static wipes made by Endust to make it feel new again. Please don't ruin your 1k+ computer with WD40 or Goo Gone.

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    Whoa there, Andrew! Acetone is extremely flammable and can cause serious health problems to you and the computer. Best to stick to the recommended solution: peel off as much of the label as possible; scrape off (carefully) as much glue as possible with a non-marking tool, (nylon spudger or the like; then wipe (gently) with isopropyl alcohol to dissolve the remaining glue. CVS and big supermarkets usually carry 91% to 93% isopropyl alcohol. This is far preferable to rubbing alcohol, which is diluted with water and can contain undesirable substances like fragrances and oils. – IconDaemon Sep 24 '15 at 21:41

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhMGB0tLfnc try this. Peel off the stickers. Just apply any perfume with alcohol. Wait a couple of minutes than just clean it off with a clean dry tissue.

http://www.decorsfuk.co for more cleaning stickers from your devices.

I took the sticker off as best as I could, at a right angle. Then I dabbed the residue with an alcohol swab, and rubbed it with a tissue and it worked for me

In the past, I've also had success with removing whatever residue is left with a rubber eraser! It usually picks up every bit of glue. Unfortunately, I haven't tried on my MB, but I don't doubt that it will work.

Just did this (July 2015) and it's a three-step process:

Step 1: Using fingernail, and going slow, peel sticker off laptop
Step 2: Using a wet paper towel and a thumbnail sized drop of soap, clean laptop surface
Step 3: ... actually I guess it's just two steps.

Worked great! No damage, good as new.

peppermint essential oil works as well

I have to tell you, I thought I was doomed. I tried all the above answers and my Mickey & Minnie Mouse sticker seemed to be engrave into my lid Minnie's dots from her dress and all. This MacBook Air was in pristine condition with the exception of the stickers. This item was already "sold" to a buyer I started to panic. Then I looked in my cleaning cabinet and thought I would give "MR CLEAN MagicEraser" (extra power) but I think the regular kind will do as well, and what do you know came right off all I used was a little water just enough to dampen it. I left one end dry to help with the really stubborn parts. Folks indeed they are Magic! They are great for getting crayon off walls as well. So give MR CLEAN MagicEraser sponge a try it should work for you as well. I followed with some "iKlear Apple polish" now my Mac looks brand new!

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    This could not be a more obvious or blatant advertisement. For the sake of the S/E community, I will deliberately avoid that product. – Max von Hippel May 14 '16 at 15:29

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