Apple will randomize Mac serial numbers starting this year | GeekComparison

A MacBook Pro sitting on a table
enlarge / The 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro with macOS.

Samuel Axon

According to MacRumors, Apple will completely change the way the serial numbers for Macs are generated. The numbers will soon be completely random, meaning users, IT managers, repair shop technicians and others will not be able to extract the same information from them as the current serial number system.

Serial numbers on Macs shipped today reflect the time and place the Mac was assembled, as well as some configuration details such as storage capacity. In the future, serial numbers will be completely random, with no code or consistency that can be used to learn information about the product. The new numbers will be between eight and fourteen characters long.

MacRumors claims it learned of the change when it accessed an internal AppleCare email. This change will not apply to Mac models that ship today, but will take effect for future Macs that the company will introduce. That includes the rumored MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac expected later this year, as well as new Mac Pro models that appear to be slated for a later date.

According to the email, the change was initially scheduled to take effect in 2020, but it has been rolled back. The email now states that it will happen “early 2021”. Strangely enough, the most reliable rumors and leaks about upcoming Mac products have them in the second half of 2021, with only iPad refreshes initially in the coming weeks. But the date may refer to something other than the final shipment date of the products; we will have to wait.

Serial numbers are used in company online forums, repair shops and IT departments to expedite troubleshooting and other tasks by quickly learning more about the machine in question, such as whether a computer exhibiting a problem is part of a certain range of models manufactured in a certain period of time that all have that problem. Some of the information is still accessible after the machine is powered up or disassembled.

Apple has not publicly confirmed this change or explained the reasons, but we have reached out to the company for comment.

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