Here’s how to ground a MacBook Air or Pro:
The best and easiest way to ground a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro is to plug it into a grounded outlet.
To do this, you need a three-pronged plug that connects the computer to a wall outlet.
This will connect the computer to the grounding system that is already in the wall, and that should solve any grounding issues.
So if you want to learn all about the different ways you can ground a MacBook, then you’re in the right place.
Let’s get right into it!
What Is Grounding?
Let’s start with a little clarity.
What does it mean to ground something?
Grounding is a term used in electrical systems to describe the flow of electricity to the actual ground.
You ground something by connecting it to the earth itself.
Why would you do this?
It’s basically because the earth can absorb an insanely large amount of electricity.
In fact, it can absorb all of the electricity that currently exists in the world, and it won’t bat an eye.
I’m going to skip a lot of physics to keep this light, but basically, there’s enough raw material in the earth that it can absorb as many electrons as you want to throw at it.
Because of this, grounding works as a way of creating a release valve for electric flow.
If you have a circuit, and there is too much electricity running through it, a ground gives that extra electricity somewhere to go.
This prevents any buildup of charge that can cause arcing, electrocution, and fire.
All of this is to say that grounding is a safety procedure that helps protect designed circuits from some of the dangers that arise when using electricity.
Why Are You Trying to Ground a MacBook? (3 Reasons)
Before I show you how to ground a MacBook it’s important to talk about why we’re even doing this.
The truth is that there are a few different scenarios that might lead you to grounding as a solution.
Ultimately, the reason you’re trying to ground the computer will inform the best possible solution.
So, let’s explore those motivations first.
#1 You Feel a Current
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the most likely reason you’re here reading this article right now.
You were using your MacBook, and you felt a tingling sensation.
There was an electrical current running around the computer, and you could feel it.
That’s clearly not an ideal situation, so you’re looking for a remedy.
It’s great to be proactive, but we need to talk about a few things.
First, if you can feel a current running around the outside of your MacBook, something is wrong.
Hopefully, you haven’t been harmed by this (more often than not the situation isn’t dangerous), but it’s something to take seriously.
The fact that you can feel any current at all means that your MacBook is not managing electricity properly, and in a bad-case scenario, this can be very dangerous.
So, stop using the MacBook and contact Apple support.
Do it right away.
They’ll help you troubleshoot the problem, and they are responsible for resolving such a defect.
I can assure you that Apple does not want to risk a personal safety/injury lawsuit.
They will take the problem seriously and work with you to resolve it.
There’s every chance that you have a minor problem with an easy solution, but because there’s a risk that this is dangerous, assume the worst and err on the side of safety.
All of that said, I will talk about different solutions that are available to you, but I wanted to cover the major safety concern first.
Please, don’t risk your well-being over this.
#2 You Were Shocked
On the other hand, you might not feel a current running through your MacBook at all.
Instead, you use the computer, and sometimes it shocks you.
We’re talking about static shock here, not the kind of shock you get from exposed wires.
If you have exposed wires, contact Apple for support.
Sometimes, computers seem to attract static electricity, and you can get static shocks from the device.
If that’s happening in your case, then it’s only natural to want a remedy.
These shocks aren’t dangerous, but they’re not exactly fun.
You’re on the right track.
A proper grounding solution will help prevent static buildup.
It should reduce, if not completely eliminate, your static problem.
On top of that, static shocks can damage a computer, so for the sake of the device, it’s good to be proactive.
One or more of the grounding solutions covered below should take care of you.
#3 You Just Want to Protect It
It’s possible that a specific problem did not drive you to this article.
Instead, you just want to take care of your computer.
MacBooks aren’t exactly cheap devices, and if you’re a fan of Apple, then you probably really like your computer.
You just want to do everything you can to protect and keep it safe.
As I mentioned before, proper grounding can prevent static, and in that way, it will protect your device.
Still, there’s a chance that there’s a bit of a misunderstanding going on here, so I’m going to cover that too.
If you’re worried about electrical surges, then grounding the MacBook isn’t exactly the solution you’re looking for.
I’m going to devote a whole section to this at the end, but the best way to protect your MacBook from surges is actually to keep it away from any grounds.
It can be a little complicated, so if this is your concern, skip to the last section.
I’ll clarify everything.
How Can You Ground a MacBook? (4 Ways)
The reason I went through those ideas above is that your goals impact the method.
The best way to ground your MacBook really does depend on what you’re trying to accomplish.
That said, there is one universal, easy grounding method that I’m going to cover here.
Then, I’ll talk about some troubleshooting and alternative options that might suit your specific scenario.
So, how do you ground a MacBook?
You plug it into an outlet.
That’s really it, but there are some factors you should know about.
For this to work, you need a three-pin plug that goes into the wall outlet.
MacBook chargers come in a variety, and a lot of them only have two prongs that go into the wall.
If that’s the case, you aren’t getting any grounding.
It’s the third prong that connects to the ground wire in the outlet.
That means that if you have a two-prong wall connector, you need to get a three-pronged option.
The good news is that Apple makes these, they’re very easy to find, and odds are that one of them came in the box with your MacBook.
Double-check to see if you can find it.
If not, you might need to get that specific cable.
#1 Use an Extension Cable
For clarity, the three-prong wall plug for a MacBook looks like this.
If you plug that in and connect it to your MacBook, then your computer is directly connected to a ground, and it should resolve the problems we discussed in the previous sections.
If you only have a two-pronged charger, you can also get a three-pronged extension cable (linked just above).
This will allow you to ground your charger without any special setup.
Just plug your charger into the grounded extension cable, and you’re good to go.
Now, depending on where you live and how old your MacBook is, the adapter that I linked might not work with your setup.
You’ll want to look at the pictures and see if the extension cable can actually plug into your existing setup somewhere.
If not, it might be a regional or model problem.
There is ultimately an extension cable available for every Mac, and generally speaking, the extension cables do have grounding wires or mechanisms.
So, one way or another, the extension cable can ground your Mac.
But, it won’t always look like the one I linked.
Depending on the country of destination, it might have two or three prongs, and the shape and orientation of the prongs might vary.
I linked a U.S.-compatible extension cable.
Obviously, you need an extension cable that is compatible with the outlets where you live.
#2 Check the Adapter
Now, there’s a chance that you’re using a three-pronged plug, and despite that, you still get a current or static build-up with your MacBook.
If that happens, it’s because something is wrong, and there’s actually a common cause that I’m going to walk you through.
The charger for a MacBook traditionally has three components.
There’s the cable that plugs into the wall, the converter (which is the boxy, bulky part in the middle), and the cable that runs to the computer.
When you’re using a three-pronged plug to the wall, it means that you have what is commonly called a “duck head” adapter.
The cable that runs from the wall to the converter can be removed (it’s just a basic plug), and the part that plugs into the converter kind of looks like a duck’s head.
That’s where the name comes from.
So, here’s what you need to check.
First, make sure everything is unplugged from the wall and the computer.
We don’t want any currents running through the power adapter while we do this check.
With that done, go ahead and disconnect the duck head from the converter.
When you do, you can see the exposed connectors on the converter itself.
There are two metallic slots, and there is a round metal nub.
It’s exactly 10 mm in diameter, and it protrudes from the converter a little bit.
This is the ground connection.
Here’s the problem.
That round metal piece is often covered with a bit of plastic during shipping.
The plastic prevents scratching and oxidation—basically it ensures that the metal is in good shape when you open the box.
But, that plastic isn’t supposed to stay there.
It actually prevents the ground from connecting through the converter.
Remove the plastic piece, and it should fix your grounding issue.
If you go through all of this, find the round metal ground connector, and there is no plastic, then go ahead and wipe down the ground with a cloth.
It’s possible that dirt or smudges have collected on the metal and are preventing a proper ground.
If none of that fixes your grounding problem, try the next section.
#3 Try Another Outlet
Sometimes, the grounding issue has to do with your outlet rather than your MacBook.
Fortunately, there’s a really easy test to find out.
Try another outlet.
But, try an outlet as far away from the one you’ve already used as possible.
Each outlet has its own ground connectors, but ultimately, they run along the same ground wires.
There are a few different points where a ground could have an issue, and we’re trying to rule all of that out.
So, if you don’t get a good ground with one outlet, then you want to test the Mac on a different outlet.
The best way to ensure it’s on a different part of the ground circuit is to go to another room.
More specifically, you want to use an outlet that is on a different breaker switch.
If you do that, then you’re testing as thoroughly as you reasonably can.
If the grounding is fine on one outlet but failing on another outlet, you found the problem.
You need to repair the failing outlet.
If your grounding issue persists across multiple outlets, then it probably has to do with the MacBook or the power connector rather than your outlet.
In such a case, it’s time to contact Apple for support.
They need to fix what is wrong.
There is also a DIY approach to all of this.
The DIY solution is really intended for alleviating static buildup on a computer.
If you have current running through the computer, then a DIY grounding solution can be very dangerous.
It comes with risks of electrocution and fire.
Let’s not take those risks lightly.
But, in the case of static, a grounding solution isn’t particularly dangerous, and it can work pretty well.
The gist is that you’re trying to run a conductor from the shell of the MacBook to the actual ground.
There are a ton of ways to do this.
I’m going to walk you through doing it with copper wire.
That’s not necessary.
Any conducting solution will work, but the copper wire is a little easier to understand.
You can get copper wire at most hardware stores or from the internet, and it’s perfectly fine.
Your copper wire will typically be shielded (as in it has plastic or rubber around the outside of the wire), and that’s good.
It makes it harder for you to shock yourself by touching the wire.
Here’s what you need to do.
You’re going to take one end of the copper wire and attach it to the outside of the MacBook wherever you notice a lot of static.
You only need to do this in one spot, so pick whatever seems to be the most statically active.
You can tape the wire to that point (even scotch tape is fine).
Make sure that the copper in the wire directly touches the shell of the Mac.
That’s going to enable the copper wire to absorb static electricity.
Next, run the wire to the ground.
The very best option is to attach it to a metal table or desk leg that touches the ground.
If that’s not possible, then you can tape the copper wire to a coin and let the coin sit on the floor.
The idea here is that you’re attaching a conductor to the ground itself.
As a note, you don’t want to run this setup to carpet.
You want to run it to something that isn’t flammable, and concrete and literal dirt are your best bets.
Regardless, it’s called grounding because the ground itself can absorb a lot of electricity without a problem.
That’s what you’re setting up here.
You’re making a ground.
When the copper wire successfully runs from the shell to the ground, it will allow static electricity to flow through that wire.
This will prevent any static buildup, and it will reduce—if not eliminate—those shocks.
How Can You Protect Your MacBook from Electrical Surges?
Lastly, I want to circle back to protecting MacBooks from electrical surges.
I mentioned this before, but grounding is not what you want here.
Electrical surges are unexpected cases where a bunch of excess electricity runs through a circuit.
This can happen within the circuits in your house, and the most common source of such surges is lightning.
Let’s use lightning as a specific example, but keep in mind that this holds true for surges in general.
If lightning strikes near your house, it can send a ton of electricity racing through the wires that are in your house.
It does this with enough force that it can actually make electricity flow backward.
This is the real problem.
If your MacBook is plugged into the wall when lightning strikes, the backward flow of electricity can run through your power cable and fry the computer.
This can hold true if you’re using a different grounding method too.
The point is that the surge can send current the opposite direction of what is intended.
That means that the best way to protect a MacBook from a surge is to disconnect it from any cables or wires.
Run it solely on the battery, and naturally, keep it inside.
If you do, any surges will run through your wall wiring, but it won’t have a conduit to reach the MacBook.