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Designing a better MagSafe 2 connector

Mike Wehner, @MikeWehner
February 10, 2014
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Apple's original MagSafe connector was a simple, but revolutionary new feature for its notebooks. Its T-shaped design also hates being placed in a lap. The straight-out shape makes it difficult to rest a MacBook on a pair of crossed legs without snapping the charger out of place. The second generation of the MagSafe addressed this issue by changing to an L-shaped form factor.

Problem solved, right? Well, it was, until the MagSafe 2. For whatever reason, the new, thinner MagSafe 2 connector took a step backward with the lap-unfriendly T-shape. Users on forums across the web weren't pleased with this, and predicted that the change was made so that the company could come out with a "new and improved" L-shaped version at a later date.

But rather than wait on Apple to potentially roll out a better MagSafe 2 product in the future, I decided to have a go at designing one myself.

Things started modestly, and all I had to work off of was the dimensions of the existing MagSafe 2 adapter. I took those into account and made sure the surface area of the magnetic portion matched perfectly, along with the overall length and width of the connector.

After I had the core dimensions in place, it was time to start smoothing a few of the edges and tweaking how far the charger would protrude from the side of a MacBook when plugged in. I used the L-shaped MagSafe 1 adapter as a guide for how thin I could make it. I also added the cord at this point.

After adding the materials to the project, I came up with the first version of the adapter, and I thought it looked pretty good. But after walking away for a while and coming back, it struck me just how round the whole thing felt. That would be fine for some of the later polycarbonate MacBooks with their bulbous edges, but not so much for today's Airs and Pros. So I did some additional tweaking.

I sharpened a few of the edges and once I did it really started to look like something I could see stuck to the side of my MacBook Air. It's as narrow as the L-shaped version of the original MagSafe adapter, has the exact contact surface of the current MagSafe 2 adapter and doesn't hate your lap.

This one is free, Apple.

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