If there was ever a computer that has been worth the money I spent on it, it is my 2008 Mac Pro tower. It cost me something over 3 grand at the time, and it was the fifth towered Mac I had bought in just a few years, the other four being G4 and G5 Power PC towers we trickled through as we followed Apple from Power PC to Intel processors.. Seven years after I bought it, it is still a very relevant machine and it has suffered only minor failures, a RAM chip here and there and a temperamental hard drive sled.  It does its work using dual 2.8 GHz processors, two Radeon 4770 video cards, 16 GB of RAM, three SSD’s, one hard disk, and a ESATA/USB3 PCI card.

That is, until this week when I encountered my first “major” failure while simply swapping out an SSD for a larger one. I had just re-secured a hard drive sled and put the outer case door back on when I went to close the case latch and found it a little stiff. I gave it a little more force than usual and heard a “SNAP”! The case latch had broken and the case door now wouldn’t come off! The Mac Pro tower’s case is ingeniously designed to be almost impenetrable when closed, so I panicked, afraid there was now no way to get into the computer other than sawing it open!!!

I calmed down as I realized the machine was working just fine and would could continue to run until something else broke, meaning I probably had time to find a solution before it did. One of the good things about being on the ‘Net is it is a computer-focused medium; you can usually find someone who has had the problem you are dealing with and, most of the time, a solution if you keep looking. I ultimately  found a single discussion on a Mac forum that revealed the broken latch controlled a sliding bar that could be accessed from the front of the case. It’s hard to see but it is there and can be reached, something you wouldn’t get from examining Apple service documentation that says the solution for a case latch failure is to replace the entire case!

Here’s how you can deal with the problem:

  • Using a very bright light (The light on my iPhone 5s worked better than either of two flashlights.) and a magnifying glass if necessary (The older you are, the more necessary it is), peer through the cooling holes (about 1/8” in dia) just below the lower optical drive and on the right side of the case. Look for a silver metallic block with a circular indent in its center. (This is where I believe a metal rod attaches to the block). That’s your target.
  • Get a tool or a metal rod that will fit through a cooling hole and allow you to put about five to ten pounds of force on it. Fit it through the cooling hole and hit the “target” straight on. (A straightened out coat hanger will generally NOT work; it will deform before you can get enough force on it to move the sliding rod. I used a small, stout, Philips head screwdriver…one I could afford to lose if its head deformed.)
  • Push on the slide until it moves. It will only move about a quarter to a half of an inch. This UNLOCKS the side door.

Note that you may or may not be able to re-latch the door; and you probably won’t be able to use the latch at all. Frankly, my case door fits tight enough  I’m not worrying about relatching the case. If that’s not true for you, then you will have to find some other way to keep the door closed since it helps control airflow through the machine. If you so employ some alternate means of keeping the door closed, be sure to consider that the machine will get warm to hot during operation and that will affect your closure method.