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I’m a big fan of Apple’s MagSafe power connector, which uses a nifty magnetic design to connect the power adapter to the laptop. As we explained back when Apple announced the original MacBook Pro models, “The MagSafe power connector safely disconnects from the notebook when there is strain on the power cord, helping to prevent the notebook from falling off its work surface if the power cord is inadvertently yanked.”
That said, a number of Mac laptop users have been disappointed in this connector. Not because it doesn’t work as advertised, but because the connection between the MagSafe connector and the power cable has proven to be less than reliable for some. Specifically, the cable has cracked or frayed at this connection for some users. The problem isn’t widespread, relative to the number of MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops out there, but it’s common enough to have generated many posts on Apple’s Discussions forums, as well to reward you with a knowing look when you plop your damaged adapter down on the Genius Bar at an Apple Store.
Of course, where there’s a problem, there’s a market for a solution, as the folks at Southern Mac Refurbishing will tell you. According to the company, earlier this year they were contracted to repair “several thousand” MagSafe adapters for an unnamed company. While doing so, they developed a little gadget for preventing the problem in the first place: the $14 Mac MagSaver. Essentially a small, ABS-plastic collar that fits over the MagSafe connector and provides support for the cable, the Mac MagSaver dramatically reduces the strain on this connection.
To install the Mac MagSaver, you position the MagSafe connector in the bottom section of the collar and then weave the cable, S-like, around two plastic posts; these posts keep the cable from pulling at the cable/plug connection. You then fit the top section of the Mac MagSaver collar onto the bottom and press four included retainer pins into place using any small, solid object (such as a pen tip or the end of a screwdriver). A small hole on each side of the Mac MagSaver lets you monitor your MagSafe connector’s status light.
Although I can’t vouch for the long-term effectiveness of the Mac MagSaver, the theory behind it is sound, and it’s worked well over the few weeks I’ve been testing it on one of our Mac laptops. (The company includes a lifetime warranty.) There are two minor downsides worth noting. First, because the Mac MagSaver uses retaining pins instead of screws, you can’t remove it and later put it back on; it’s an install-it-and-leave-it accessory. Second, the Mac MagSaver is bulkier than the bare MagSafe connector, making it slightly more difficult to secure the end of your cable after you’ve wrapped it around your adapter. It’s also notable that the Mac MagSaver doesn’t work with the power adapter for the MacBook Air, thanks to the different shape of the Air’s MagSafe connector.