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Sometimes, you need to know the exact model of your Macintosh. When you want to know to which version of OS X you can upgrade your system, e.g., or when you intend to buy parts for self-repairing your computer.

But Apple tend to name its computers with simple, non-specific names. There have been plenty of different MacBook Pro, and knowing yours has a screen with a 15ʺ display isn’t enough to narrow it down.

How to identify which exact model is a given Mac?

  • Why wouldn't you go to apple.com/support/manuals and just find your Model? This seems overly broad since any realistic repair will need differ based on if your Mac was made in 2003 or 2013. Not all OS are the same and repairs on different ERA macs are not equivalent (nor are the tools you would use to find parts for various Mac. – bmike Apr 7 '14 at 0:50
  • @bmike This is a broad question I wrote because I think it might be of use to many people or could be of help when answering several questions. And identifying your proper model is the first step on finding how to repair your Mac (the second I would recommend would be visiting iFixit and only then ensuring you have the right tools). – Édouard Apr 12 '14 at 15:15
  • Just be aware that asking rhetorical / overly broad questions can end up in having them closed/deleted. It actually models poor question asking and how would someone begin to be detail oriented enough to repair a Mac if they can't ask a pointed question how to marrow down which Mac they need to learn about? – bmike Apr 12 '14 at 17:14
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There are several way to achieve this. Macintosh models can be identified by several means:

  • The “human-readable” detailed name Apple uses: e.g., MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009)
  • Model Identifiers: e.g., MacBookPro5,3
  • Model number: e.g., A1286
  • Serial number

While two Macs with the same model identifier or model number may not be exactly the same (e.g., a MacBookPro5,3 may have a 2.66GHz, 2.8GHz or 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor, and the GPU may differ as well on those models), they pinpoints models with a precision sufficient for most uses.

If your Mac is running properly on OS X, you can get the Model Identifier by doing the following:

  1. Go to the Applications > Utilities folder.
  2. Run System Profiler. (System Information in Mavericks)
  3. On the left panel of the window that opens, select Hardware (the default selection)
  4. The Model Identifier appears with other info about the Mac in the right panel, including the serial number.

For other ways to get to the serial number of your Mac you can:

  • Select About this Mac in the Apple menu on the top left of your screen. In the small window that appears, click the system version (e.g., Version 10.9.2) twice. Your Mac serial number is displayed instead.
  • Or, more simply and especially useful if your Mac is not booting, read it on the Mac itself, as the serial number is printed on it somewhere, in very tiny letters. Older Mac laptops with removable batteries have the serial number inside the case with the battery removed. You can find out precisely where the serial number on your Mac lives at this Apple KB link.

Once you have the serial number, you can get the precise model name by going to this page on the Apple website and typing your entire serial number in the adequate field.

If you need info on materials that your Mac support, or if you need to find the model number of your Mac when you have its identifier or serial number, you can use various databases that exists here and there. I usually go to this very useful page from everymac.com, as it list quite a big deal of technical info on each model. You can type model identifiers, model number or the few last symbols of a serial number to find its related info.

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Open System Information and open the About this Mac (Command - I)

From there you have a Support tab that links to the user manuals, specifications and more. Furthermore, you can also use the overview information from System Information to get the marketing version which identifies your Mac.

  • MacBook Pro, Retina, 13-inch, Early 2013
  • Mac Pro, Late 2013

Etc....

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