MacBooks are on a straightforward path to becoming closed case devices, with very little in the way of aftermarket expandability options for consumers. Which is why the Nifty MiniDrive Kickstarter project seemed so promising: It’s a microSD card adapter that fits flush with the side of your MacBook Pro or Air, which means you can add up to 64GB of additional flash storage via a port that many people probably only use very occasionally anyway.
It’d be easy to do this yourself if Apple used the kind of spring-loaded, flush-mount SD card slot you see on a lot of Windows PCs, but as it is, when using standard SD cards and adapters, the end protrudes about a third of an inch out of the side of the computer, which means keeping something there permanently will invite disaster if you’re putting it in and out of a bag with any frequency. The Nifty MiniDrive fixes that, with a design that’s custom-fit for the different models of MacBook (there’s an Air version, one for the MacBook Pro and another for the 15-inch Retina Pro).
Removing the card requires a special tool that Nifty ships with each MiniDrive, which is not unlike a SIM-card tray ejector, but with a hook so that it can catch the recessed groove found on the adapter itself. It’s a remarkably effective design, which works well in practice. Losing a MiniDrive tool would mean your drive is stuck in the SD card slot, but you can fashion your own removal tool from a staple or paper clip should it ever come to that, so it isn’t a huge concern. Plus, these are designed to be used mostly by people who don’t require frequent access to that port anyways.[gallery include="761642,761643,761644,761646,761647,761648"]
As you can now get microSD cards in capacities ranging up to 64GB, with 128GB possibly to follow soon, that adds a considerable amount of extra disk space in a package that adds almost no weight to your existing setup, and doesn’t change the outside physical profile of your machine. On my 128GB MacBook Air, the Nifty MiniDrive with a $60 64GB microSD Class 10 card gives me 50 percent more storage. And if I fill it up, it’s easy enough to swap out another drive, keeping the first microSD card close at hand in case I need to retrieve something from the archive.
Although only made of plastic and glue (plus the metal connectors), the two Nifty MiniDrives (one for 15-inch Retina Mac and one for 13-inch Air) I have are performing well. They’ve survived multiple removals without incident, the silver finish on their endcaps matches the color of the MacBook’s aluminum case perfectly, and OS X instantly recognizes the drives when inserted. In an age of Wi-Fi cameras and mostly cramped SSD storage, they’re a great little addition to any Mac notebook setup, and should be available to order soon from Nifty’s website.