There are two tools I often use when troubleshooting and repairing computers. The first solves a problem of determining exactly what Mac computer you have in front of you. The second is the best resource on the web for repair instructions and parts for Macs, game consoles and other home electronics.
The first is MacTracker. This beautiful application runs on the Mac, or iPad or iPhone. It immediately grants you access to the entire history of Apple devices. Need to know exactly which iMac, Powerbook or iPhone you’re looking at?
Search by year, model, name, anything you like. I’ve been using it this week to search the specific models of G4 Powerbooks I have in the stack in front of me. The reason I need to know exactly which one I have is so I can go into the second thing I’ve been loving.
iFixit is a site that has detailed tear downs on most modern Apple hardware. The walk throughs show exactly how to get into these devices to replace and repair components. They’ve also expanded to gaming consoles, other smart phones and auto parts.
While some of the work is done by the site’s core staff, the entire site is a wiki-like platform where any person can write their own repair guides and are peer-reviewed first then reviewed by the staff. Because anyone can contribute, refine or correct mistakes or clarify steps the walk throughs are almost always perfectly accurate.
The documentation I’ve used from iFixit is often times better than anything the manufacturer has available, and in Apple’s case, there is nothing so this site is vital to Apple repair work.
While you’re there, grab a copy of the Self-Repair Manifesto.