MacBook Airs and Retina MacBook Pros offer practically zero upgradability, but one area that there is some flexibility with is storage. Many third party memory manufactures are taking advantage of the SD card slot present in MacBook Airs and Retina Pros to add semi-permant storage to these Macs. We first saw these products begin popping up last year, but the release of Transcend’s JetDrive Lite line this morning made us think it was worth taking a look at three of the options currently available.

These expansion drives are nearly as convenient as on-board storage but can be used for Time Machine backups and transferring large files between devices.

The problem with shoving any SD card into your MacBook is that is protrudes out from the laptop casing, which leaves the card and your Mac vulnerable to damage or getting knocked out. It’s also an eyesore to constantly have a card peaking out from your Mac’s otherwise seamless and uniform design. The memory expansion modules we’re going to take a look at are customized to fit nearly flush.

The most well-known version is the PNY StorEDGE. It comes in two different capacities (64GB/128GB), is colored black, and protrudes just enough to make it easy to remove. The 64GB/128GB models retail for $100/$200, but these are available for $38.95 and $75.04.

The SanDisk minidrive is only available in 64GB, and it includes a pull tab to make it even easier to remove. Some people may dislike the fact that the pull tab has ‘SanDisk’ branded on it, but that doesn’t seem like a deal-breaker to me. It retails for $59.99, but is currently on sale for $49.99.

Just this morning Transcend announced its JetDrive Lite expansion cards in 64GB and 128GB capacities. Transcend says that users can expect read and write speeds of up to 95MB/s and 60MB/s respectively, which is the fastest of the bunch. Obviously, there isn’t any real world data to backup these claims yet and overall performance will also vary by Mac, it is still nice to see Transcend attempting to push the product category forward. The JetDrive Lites are priced aggressively with current rates starting at just $39.99 for 64GB and going up to $79.99 for 128GB.


If you already own a micro SD card you could opt to increase your MacBook storage by popping it into a custom adapter which mimics the modules mentioned above. The Nifty Minidrive is capped with hand-polished mini-drivealuminum so it will match your Apple hardware. It’s available in silver and red at a retail price of $39.99 (on sale at Amazon for $34.99). There is also the less-elegent, but more budget-conscious solution called “The MiniDrive“, which looks to be a Nifty clone but at only $20.

Also, if you are really determined to expand your Mac’s memory, you can upgrade its internal SSD with one of Transcend’s new JetDrive kits.

Before making your final purchase, be sure that the model you choose is compatible with your specific Mac model as some manufactures have slightly different SKUs for different Macs. SD slot depth also varies between models so some of the aforementioned solutions may protrude more or less depending on your Mac.

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17 Responses to “Three hacks for adding permanent storage to your MacBook Air or Retina Pro through the SD card slot”

  1. Dennis Popp says:

    Why is there no 128GB for the 13″ MacBook Pro? :(


    • madformac says:

      There is at they make a flush 128GB integrated drive for every mac make and model also air and pro (non retina have same sd port depth so you can use the jet drive air with your MacBookPro.


  2. Please Mention that not all MacBook slots are the same depth. I have a new Late 2013 rMBP and the PNY card sticks out 1/4 of an inch further than it did on an older rMBP. It is painful to catch your hand on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan DeSilva says:

      Good point. That’s what I was getting at near the end of the article, but I’ll be more clear.


    • I ran into this issue with the NiftyMini after I picked one up in a store. (Their site is specific to models, the packaging was not.) Had to return it because it wouldn’t stay in. They currently don’t have anything that is optimized for the Late 2013 rMBP, that I’ve found.

      Liked by 1 person

    • djbressler says:

      I was a customer of Nifty during their kickstarter campaign. The product is great, and the people have really great integrity. I highly recommend it.

      One thing though about all these solutions… With the drives in, does the system go to sleep properly? If it does, do the drives automatically connect when the system awakens? I’m not sure.


  3. Can i get the 128gb and have Windows 8 boot off of it?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The new macbook pros are built so they wont be opened up easily but you can change the ssd on it. I saw a video on how to do it on youtube it takes about 10 minutes . You need to purchase the new ssd but its a bit expensive although it’s twice the memory on it and a bit faster, then you disconnect the ssd which is very small and swap them out. I believe it was around $400 plus for more than 400 gigs of memory.
    You need a new ssd: between 3-5 hundred dollars depending on the size
    The pentalove screwdrivers
    then remove the back casing carefully and disconnect the ssd then swap it for the new one .
    close back up!


  5. Anybody have experience running a VM from any of these products? I am thinking about trying it out, they are a drain on hard disk storage for me.


  6. craigslistlu says:

    Probably very late to the party but in what world paying good $1000-2600 for a notebook you should be reduced to sticking a memory card to have somewhat sufficient storage space? and how is it you have to pay extra $200 for the jump from 128 to 256gb, since a stand alone samsung ssd 250gb cost $140.


  7. stevenjklein says:

    Okay, so the StorEDGE “protrudes just enough to make it easy to remove” and the SanDisk “includes a pull tab to make it even easier to remove.” And though your article doesn’t mention it, I know the Nifty Minidrive includes a removal tool.

    But how does one remove the JetDrive Lite? Your article doesn’t say, and neither does the manufacturer’s website.


  8. 128gb series was skipped, but should probably be included?

    Specs match the PNY/JetDrive, but this one is actually flush unlike the others that stick out.


  9. madformac says:

    Any one try TarDisk (yes like doctor who’s Tardis) I just saw a side by side teardown of a Nifty and a TarDisk on ifixit, looks like it should be included in your list as yet another option.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. madformac says:

    new 256GB flush solid aluminum flash adapter on Kickstarter custom fit to each mac TarDisk256 looks incredible funded in 4.5 days 28 days left