Hacks

Our Readers’ Best Tips for Organizing Screws During a Repair

Close-up of Phillips screws with loc-tite blue resin on threads
Photo by Derek Braunschweiger

We sell what we consider an almost perfect tool for holding little screws and metal parts during a repair: the Magnetic Project Mat, complete with erasable pen to label each little square of items.

It is “almost” perfect because we cannot go back in time and remind you to order it before you’re 10 steps into a repair and realize that you need somewhere to put the 0.8mm screws, separate from the 1.1mm screws. And it’s important to use the right screws, especially on devices like an iPhone, where going too deep can cause phone-bricking long screw damage.

Lacking the optimal mat, fixers get creative. Here are some of our favorite ways we’ve seen folks keep their stuff together.

We started thinking about this when Mark Turetsky tweeted his solution for all the screws removed in a MacBook Pro battery replacement: cupcake liners.

Zoom or squint to see the labels he’s put inside each. As a reply points out, this is only possible if you don’t have cats, young kids, or stiff breezes in your house, but it’s effective and cheap (and recycle-friendly, if you use plain paper).

If you lack for baking gear, you’ve got plenty of common household options. Just ask people who left comments on our repair guides.:

I also asked for people’s repair organization tips on Twitter and got a wide range of answers, from back pocket to 16-box Container Store organizer. A few highlights:

Other suggestions include egg cartons, quarter baking sheet, a drill case, kid-size bowls, and laid out on a table in the shape of the device.

Again, we must point out that, especially if you’re already ordering parts and tools from iFixit, that a Magnetic Project Mat is actually made for this job. Alternately, if you have a Pro Tech Toolkit, there’s a magnetic pad underneath the case with the driver and bits that can be used to hold your screws in place.

What did we miss? How do you keep the screws and little bits organized during your own fixes, big and small? Let us know in the comments. We always have time to spread the word about unexpected organizers.