So I've got this new 13" MacBook Pro Retina... a beautiful machine by all accounts! Here's the thing though: It doesn't sit flat. As in, if you put it down on a flat surface, all four of the rubber feet on the bottom won't touch the surface. Only three will (just like a wobbly, uneven table). It's not really a big deal except:

  1. When I rest my palms on the palm rest areas to type, the Mac wobbles and makes a tapping noise, and...

  2. I'm worried that if the casing is bent or just not straight that it's putting stress on something internal or that it's an indication of poor build quality and there might be other problems.

Am I insane? Should I just shut up and enjoy this beautiful Mac? Or is this a valid concern?

P.S. I assure you, I'm testing this on a truly flat surface.

  • I assume you didn't drop it or put it down hard enough to bend the case. Apple will race it but only after doing a test to see if it was dropped. The have special tools for this.
    – Richard
    Apr 26, 2013 at 11:59
  • I believe you that you tested this on a perfectly level surface, however I added that to my answer for the benefit of the thousands of people that will have a similar question and visit this page for help.
    – bmike
    Apr 29, 2013 at 19:03
  • 1
    FOLLOW UP: I took the MacBook to the Apple Store, they agreed that it wasn't right, and repaired it at no cost (duh... still within 90 days of purchase)! Apparently they replaced the lower body, baseplate, and battery... and that did the trick. Sits flat now. It took them 3 days for the repair. To be honest, I'm surprised they just didn't give me a new one... but no complaints here!
    – Sam
    May 10, 2013 at 13:29

6 Answers 6


If a unibody Mac is wobbly, I'd have it serviced sooner rather than later. The tolerances inside are crazy tight in some cases, so a warp could cause subsequent damage to sensitive and costly parts. A trained technician can tell at a glance if the damage was external or due to manufacturing issues.

Now, that being said, I've seen dozens of Macs where people reported they were off and most were the table it sat upon, and not a bend in the unibody frame of the Mac. You can test by measuring how many sheets of printer paper fit under the leg(s) that has(have) a gap.

Then rotate the Mac 1/3 of a turn and repeat the measurement. Then take it to a second flat surface and do the measurement one last time if you're not convinced that it's the frame instead of the surface that is off-level.

Any wobble that's less than three sheets of paper is probably nothing to worry about, but what if you needed a logic board repair 10 months down the road and today, your Mac is bent out of tolerance and you were denied warranty coverage since you didn't report the bend until then? Only by getting it checked will you know if yours was out of tolerance and have a service record to point to in case of a warranty repair question later.


Check the Battery!

Late answer, but could be really important to someone: I was recently given a MacBook Air whose base (and top plate) were severely "distended" (that's the best word I could use to describe it).

Upon opening the case, it turned out that the battery has gone bad and swollen up like a wood tick on a hunting dog in August: enter image description here I'm personally surprised (and grateful) that the battery hadn't started leaking or exploded.

The good news is that it was easy to find a replacement battery on Amazon, and it took about 10 minutes to replace.

Most astonishingly, the case returned to its sleek flat self after replacing the battery, and the MacBook Air now works perfectly.

  • Good reminder - even a brand new machine could have a hardware issue. This sort of expansion is a designed failure mode to separate the battery from the charging terminals and not to release chemicals that overcharging will create from the lithium chemistry of the batteries. One caution for the DIY - be sure you don't puncture or bend any battery, no spare screws should be left in the case, the batteries are hazardous materials and if they combust, can produce toxic fumes. Dispose of parts properly, protect your eyes, work where fire won't spread or cause damage, etc...
    – bmike
    Jul 31, 2016 at 23:26
  • 1
    @bmike: good reminders. One additional: Don't throw any battery (good or bad) into the general landfill trash system. (We're lucky: our town has a hazardous waste / e-waste disposal program.) Jul 31, 2016 at 23:43

Are you sure your table/desk is actually flat ? Did you test it on several surfaces ?

If yes, then I'd go to the Apple Store and had it replaced. This is a premium machine and it should be of good factor. I bet the genius will exchange it or have another one commanded for you if you don't have a standard configuration.


Assuming that the surface you're placing it on is flat then, yes, this is definitely a problem. All four feet should touch the surface and no part of the body should.

I noticed a similar problem with my a Retina 15" after using it a couple of days and exchanged it immediately. The Apple Store employee agreed that this was not right and that maybe it was damaged during shipping.

In addition to this problem, when pressing the bottom of the Macbook under the left palm-rest I could feel the aluminum push in and pop back out slightly. This was also a defect (the Apple employee agreed). Both problems were probably related.

I haven't had any problems with the replacement. They probably would have replaced it anyway, but I made sure to do the exchange within the initial 14-day return period to make sure there would be no question that this would be an exchange and not a repair.


I recently replaced the pads on my laptop and this happened to me, if you are willing to. Take off the pads off of the bottom of the laptop, You'll see that each pad has 2 circles one large in the centre and a smaller one beside in, the smaller one is to keep the pad from rotating, One of these pads probably doesn't have the second hole aligned. and therefore is offsetting that corner of the laptop by 2 mm or so. Causing that tapping noise. Just be careful when taking off the pads, you can always replace the glue but the pads are $10 a piece from apple.


I wonder if you got a macbook retina case,(http://www.mymacbookcase.com/142-macbook-pro-retina-case-13) if the snapping would snap into the right place and give the bottom of your laptiop a new surface to rely on and in the end giving it the proper flat botom

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