How to check what kind of Mac you have

SystemInformationIconXWhen Mac systems are discussed online, you will often see them mentioned by their common name, such as “Late 2012,” “Mid 2013,” or “Early 2013,” etc. These names suggest a model number, and sometimes are specific enough to identify your model in question; however, this is not the true model identifier of your Mac.

Along with the common model number, each Mac revision has a Model Identifier that is specific to the motherboard and other hardware components shipped for that unit. In some cases, quick updates to hardware have resulted in a new Model Identifier being used, whereas the common name has remained the same.

As a result, if you are trying to identify your Mac, the more specific way to do so is to find its model identifier, and then search online for its year and time frame of manufacture:

  1. Hold the Option key
  2. Choose System Information from the Apple menu
  3. In the Hardware section (the default section) note the Model Identifier near the top of the listed properties.
System Information showing model number

System Information utility showing the Mac model number (click image for larger view).

This information is also available using the following form of the “system_profiler” command in the Terminal:

system_profiler SPHardwareDataType

More specifically, you can narrow down the output by filtering it through the “grep” command:

system_profiler SPHardwareDataType | grep Identifier

In addition to this, the common name of your system may also be useful when discussing it with others. While you can simply perform a Web search for your Mac’s Model Identifier to find its common name, in more recent versions of OS X, you can find the common name directly in the About This Mac window. To get here, instead of holding the Option key when accessing the Apple menu, leave the Option key alone and select the default About This Mac option that appears. Your model number should be listed as one of the properties in this window.

Online Mac model name lookup

With your serial number entered in Apple’s online coverage checker tool, you will see the common name of your Mac listed.

Lastly, if your system is not booting to OS X and you need a way to identify it, you can use the serial number that is printed on its chassis (see here for how to locate your serial number). Using another device, enter this serial number into Apple’s self-help service coverage checker tool, and you will be given the common model name for your system.

4 thoughts on “How to check what kind of Mac you have

  1. Lloyd

    Thanks for the help, as always. But I have a question that has nothing to do with the subject. Even if it doesn’t get published, you might still be able to read it.

    One of the great irritants in many websites is the addition of floating menus that follow you no matter where you go. CNET got rid of them, but added other garbage in their place. One of the great irritants, not to mention the redundancy, is the floating, scrolling, ever-present access to social news sites, just like I am looking at right now. Not like I couldn’t, if I wanted to, click on the link below this window, or the prominent SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW at the top of the page. It seems that site builders believe that visitors, particularly subscribers, are basically idiots and can’t find their way around a web page. Serves no real purpose except make one reach for Adblocker to see how much of that menu content can be made to go away.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    1. Strod

      I totally agree with you. But do notice the little bluish-green triangle at the button of the offending floating toolbar: if you click on it, most of the toolbar will go away, making it a lot less intrusive. (Yeah, not perfect, but it helps.)

    1. Strod

      Cool! Thanks for the suggestion!

      Alternatively, you can find a lot of information on every Mac model every released (as well as every iPod, iPhone, iPad and some other Apple products) in the website

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