(Added 4-1-02 – Thanks for all of the emails everyone. I’ve enjoyed hearing from you. I just thought I would add one or two comments since I have had several people ask me about them. First of all, I painted the iBook on the inside of the clear case. I apparently didn’t make this clear enough, but the advantage of using the ibook for this kind of thing is that you can paint the underside and the painted surface is protected by the clear plastic. Secondly, the clear plastic palmrest cost me about $60, but the person who made them is not selling them at the moment, so I’m afraid there is no way to get them right now. Thanks!)

Ever since the new iBook came out and it was revealed that the top and bottom were actually clear plastic painted white on the inside, I have wanted use it in some kind of modification. Up until now the only thing I had done was to change the color of the Apple logo (to blue, of course) but it seemed to me that there was more a lot more that could be done. Still, many things (not the least of which being that the only iBook I had access to was my wife’s and she might not look too kindly on me ripping it apart) kept me from doing anything.

I recently went to Macworld Tokyo and met a Japanese guy who had made his own transparent palmrest parts for the new iBook. He then removed the paint from the top and bottom to make a Transparent iBook. He was selling a few of the parts that he had made and I found myself buying the last one. When I bought it I thought that I would keep it for some time in the future when I might get my hands on a used iBook, but I found myself haunted by visions of translucent iBooks, so I decided to go for it.

What follows is not really meant to be a detailed set of instructions for this kind of modification, but I thought I would provide some pictures of the process as well as the finished product. There are quite a few good take-apart guides for the iBook (generally for upgrading the hard disk) so you should definitely use one of those. Just remember, if you do try something similar you are doing so at your own risk and you will almost certainly be voiding your warranty and could even break your machine.


The first and probably easiest step is removing the top cover. You have to remove the four hex screws and then pry it off. It is basically just snapped on there.


Here is the top of the iBook without the cover. As you will be able to tell, the Apple logo is actually a frosted piece of clear plastic and appears white because of the white plastic behind it (behind that is the back of the LCD, which is why the logo lights up). The white stuff is a sort of foam that seems to be a shock absorber for the screen.

You will need to pop the Apple logo out before continuing. It is just held on by some glue.


You can remove the paint with a variety of things. Some have said that alcohol works. I used a kind of paint thinner that was recommended by someone else I know who has done something similar.

First mistake I made – you must put the parts on a towel or something else soft to protect them from scratches. I ended up putting some nasty scratches on mine.

Basically the paint will come off relatively easily if you let it sit long enough. I think I might have had an easier time if I had let it sit longer, but I had heard that it could cause frosting of the plastic, so I was reluctant to do that. You just need to wipe itoff with tissues. Hard scrubbing with Q-tips was needed for some of the really stubborn parts.


One of the hardest parts is where there is glue or tape. The cover is held on by a kind of plastic frame that is glued on. You have to pry it off and then get rid of the extra glue and then thepaint underneath. Maybe I should have removed this piece first, but I was hoping the paint thinner would weaken the glue and make it easier. Anyway, here you can see the remainder of the glue and paint left after removing the frame.


Once you get the paint off, you have a completely clear cover, which is pretty cool by itself. You can’t see the scratches, but there are some nasty ones.


I then did the same thing with the bottom. It has a lot more nooks and crannies than the cover, and it is much harder to get all of the paint off. You will have to remove the battery lock (you basically have to snap it off and then glue it back together later. There were a couple of places where I just couldn’t get the paint off. I don’t know why, but it seems like it had somehow bondedwith the plastic. There are several places with a kind of thick tape as well, and that made the paint underneath very difficult to get off.


The FCC info and so forth is done with a different kind of paint underneath the white, so if you are careful you can remove the white without touching the lettering. The same is true of the lock icons by the battery lock


The plastic cover on the battery is glued on and you will just have to pry it off.


Here is a very good example of how not to organize your workspace. How embarrassing...


Once you have finished removing the paint from all three pieces, you need to mask everything you don’t want to get paint on (in this case, the outside, since you are painting the inner surface). This can be time-consuming, but this is also the stage that can make the difference between a sloppy job and a professional-looking one, so take your time. In particular, you have to be careful about theedges. Again, the bottom was much harder than the top.


I gave a lot of thought to what color I wanted to use, but I was somewhat limited by what I could find in local stores. I thought it would be neat if I could use a transparent color, since I had never seen anyone do that before, and I would be taking advantage of the special characteristics of the ibook’s case.

I ended up using this paint, which is actually made for coloring lightbulbs. It is transparent. The only blue available was much darker than I had originally had in mind, but I decided to try it anyway. When I was painting the cover (outside, of course) a gust of wind came up and blew some leaves and other junk right onto the wet surface. I was not happy! However, I was able to respray it and it didn’t look too bad.


I can’t seem to replicate the actual color either in the camera or with software, but it is actually a deeper blue than this. It really looks amazing when the light reflects off of the metal underneath, although it looks a little too dark for me when seen from other angles. I didn’t reglue the plastic frame (see below), but at the moment have just put it in place and screwed the cover on.


Mistake number two – I tried gluing on the battery cover without testing the glue on the painted surface first. I don’t know if it was because the paint wasn’t entirely dry or if it was because the glue reacted badly with the paint, but it completely ruined the paintjob and I had to remove the paint with thinner. I ran out of the blue paint, so I haven’t yet been able to do the battery.

Anyway, here it is from the bottom. Since there is a particularly large amount of shiny metal underneath, the bottom looks very cool in the right light.


Maybe this gives you some idea of what I mean.


You can also see that the FCC/copyright info came through very well.


Now for the inside...

I replaced the standard palmrest with the transparent one I bought. You have to take off the speakers and power button from the top and then remove the trackpad and button/latch assembly and transfer them to the new piece.

Not exactly easy, but not quite as hard as I had imagined.


I had to remove part of the metal shielding to reveal the hard drive (otherwise it is kind of boring inside). You can see the battery on the other side.


You can see a lot of the wires inside in this closeup of the power button section.


Here is a view from the side.


From the back...


And the front. I also put some of the blue paint on the white sleep LED so it glows light blue (although you can’t really tell here).

Well, that’s about it. It came out a bit different from how I had envisioned it, but I think it looks pretty cool. I have dubbed it the TronBook, since it seems like the kind of iBook that people from the world of Tron would use. Ok, maybe it sounds a little stupid...

I’m not sure that I can recommend the kind of paint I used. It seems like it hasn't bonded to the plastic as well as I had hoped and it may eventually rub off at certain places on the body of the machine. Still, I sort of wonder how it would look in red...

I may end up putting it back the way it was with some used parts, but in any case it was a fun experiment.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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westieg3's picture

i wanna know...does the case of the ibook appear to be solid white before the paint is removed? i have an ibook g4 and the plastic on the case looks like its white, not clear with white paint inside. are the ibook g4's painted within the casing?

g3head's picture

I haven't seen anything cast in stone but I think the change was with the 700 MHz iBook G3s. Some of those had clear cases some had solid white cases. I'm pretty sure all G4s had the solid white plastics

westieg3's picture

i have another question about the casing of my ibook. the guy at the apple store said that the casing and the screen were one unit and that you couldnt remove the cover at all. i asked him if i could replace it cause i caused some major damage to the casing though the computer runs perfectly. did apple make the top casing permanant, or is there still a way to remove the casing? im asking cause i dont wanna pay $700 for a new screen when its just the case.

floatingtrem's picture

yeah, they are seperate, there is a site that sells decoration ibook covers... i dunno if you could buy plain one though, you might be able to paint it white though Blum 3

One iBook 700 had an opaque white (not clear), then 2 iBook 800s had translucent (clear) again, then Apple switched to opaque from then on. See the table at at the very bottom for the complete details. Smile


that is awesome. i must try it. (when my parents aren't around. they'd kill me. lol) your my hero

How exactly do you remove the trackpad from the palmrest ? Is it just pressed out and then glued back ?

LLacub's picture

i am looking at going on the same adventure in about a month when an ibook i ordered from has arrived and the 30 day warranty has expired. i ordered a 700 mhz ibook so whether it will be translucent white or opaque is still a mystery to me since the 700 mhz model came in both case colors. now my question is, if it is opaque, do i go about with the above procedure or were these instructions for the clear case? after this question is answered i should be set as i have talked to many hobby-shop experts about the project and have conjured up a game-plan. also, if anyone out there is interested i will photograph the process and document the steps taken, but only if interest is shown & this service is requested. any tips & comments are welcome(especially from Mr.Owad). Also i was planning on using rubbing alcohol, what do people who have done this recommend? thank you much.

floatingtrem's picture

the disassembly should be the same, but if its opaque you wont be able to remove the white color and paint it somehthing else, you'd have to just paint over it. (i should hope this was obvious, but i figured i'd double check)

LLacub's picture

yes, i think i pretty much understand now but i just wanted to verify so as not to make a fool of myself later on (and rather,make a fool of myself upfront/now)

just wondering...instead of paint or paper, i want to take my old louis vuitton caryall and cut it up and use the material as the mod. would this over heat the computer? would it work?

floatingtrem's picture

i'm sure you could figure out some way to make it work just fine, although i have no idea how easy it would be. one would have to make sure there was room for a little bit of ventialtion, but they dont need all that much, having only a small vent in the reverse.

good luck, sounds like a good project

The casing is a unit that contains the LCD. Why someone would tell you that they do not come apart would indicate to me a person I should not ask for any Mac advice. You did right posting here for the real skinning!!!

As you have seen in this thread the Upper and Lower case are seperate and can be removed and replaced.

I was very fortunate to find a G3 screen to replace a G4 that had fallen. ( it got excited and fell off the table ) I didn't think they were interchageable but they are.

Where is the site that sells pre-painted ibook covers? Has anyone found a place to buy unpainted or clear covers?

There is one site that i found called that has a few prepainted covers but that's all i've found so far. If anybody has any sites that have a wider selection let me know.

ive heared that the g4's arent painted fron the inside, only the g3's. but your still able to dye it :]

ex-parrot's picture

There is one site that i found called that has a few prepainted covers but that's all i've found so far. If anybody has any sites that have a wider selection let me know.

These are only vinyl stickers, not complete replacement tops. Thought that was worth pointing out.

where did you manage to find this paint at?? cant find any online... walmart maybe?? or lowes??

I found "stained glass" paint at Michael's crafts store. It was about $7 a can. I got blue, but there was also red, orange and green. Green was on sale for $1.

Great mod, my top case is drying as I type (on another computer). I'm too lazy to do the bottom case and since it looks like my iBook may have either the dreaded logicboard problem or a bad reed switch, I'm not going to do much more since it may not last for much longer.

If it helps anyone, I used 91% rubbing alcohol from the drugstore and let it soak for about an hour overall with no fogging of the plastic. I also did NOT remove the apple logo at the beginning but instead let it sit there as a "plug" and just poured the alcohol into the case.

To remove the plastic frame I used an orange stick (also from the drugstore, a little piece of wood used when giving a manicure) and poked around the edges to let some alcohol soak underneath and it came out easily.

90% of the paint was gone in 10 minutes, it took about an hour because I kept draining, scrubbing a little with a nail brush (drugstore too) and then coming back to check the internet for tips. I used my nails and the tick to scrape off the paint/glue mix after the frame was removed.

After I got the paint off the case, I used my stick to pry around the clear apple logo, some alcohol had already soaked under the glue joint, so it was easy to remove.

Again great mod, can't wait until my job throws out more iBooks Smile

westieg3's picture

since this story is so popular, i have some tips for anyone who plans to remove paint. having just done this, i reccomend using a piece of thin plastic (such as on the plastic casing that things like screws come in) to slip between the glued pieces of plastic and weaken the bond before pulling them apart. i'd also say, work the edges first since they are more difficult, and that will leave a thinned edge to make the center much easier. i'm sure as more people do this that more tips will come up.

must add, removing the paint is a painful process. i took me two hours straight just for removing the paint. that was scrubbing it with a toothbrush and q-tips from the very start.

where did you find that transparent ibook palmrest? I've been looking for one of those for months! How much are they?

eeun's picture

This is clearly written at the top of the article, in coloured text:

Secondly, the clear plastic palmrest cost me about $60, but the person who made them is not selling them at the moment,

srry for the stupid question. would it be possible to install mac os 9 on an ibook that has os x? I ask because i like the older mac operating systems.

blessedopiate's picture

my understanding is you have to have OS 9 on there previously then add 0S X, not the other way around. though i could be wrong.

Hawaii Cruiser's picture

Once upon a time, Apple did a little thinking different about case design:
It was such a short-lived breath of creative, not-taking-things-so-seriously air in computer history. Now it's all just the power colors--white, black, and gray. Just the bottom line, as usual, I guess.

Very cool mod! You could probably build a small business with an assembly line of employees doing this and similar mods. There would probably be a good market, especially with people who can easily afford it and who still enjoy thinking different this way.

I would love to do something like this to my iBook G4, but I'm not in the mood to go through the clear case thing. I've seen plastic dyes mentioned on this site, but can't find any solid information on it (what kind of dyes, where to get them, how to do it). Anyone know anything about it?

Jon's picture

You cant' do a clear case on a G4 anyway. Only the first few models of the G3 Dual USB iBooks have the back-painted case. Later G3 iBooks and all G4s have the solid white opaque casing. I do recall the dying thread here, and IIRC they mentioned just using cheap fabric dye, available at most fabric/craft stores. Rit dye is a major brand, IIRC.

Jon's picture

I haven't visited MacMod in quite a while. It looks like they are getting some nice mod content. It's a shame the guy referenced two mods here, but didn't submit.

If you want to do a clear iBook G4 you can do the back LCD Bezel clear. The translucent white will work on an iBook G4, The lower case however dosent appear to be compatible. I am Currently waiting for the translucent screen bezel to arrive. Also removing the paint is easy. I had a G3 at one point and removed all the paint in 30 minutes. I used high acetone nail polish remover, it removes the paint without damaging the plastic.

eeun's picture

DO NOT use acetone, as it will damage the plastic.

If you don't want to listen, at least please try a bit in an inconspicuous part of the case first.

I used acetone on an entire G3 casing with no negative effects on the case what so ever. It isn't plastic anyway, it's polycarbonate which is a much stronger material. However, i found out, if acetone is left on polycarbonate too long it can cause damage to the polycarbonate. Paint thinner too can cause damage if left on too long. Paint thinner causes more damage though because it can actually cause the polycarbonate to become brittle and fall apart.