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.
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.