Understanding Apple EMC Numbers

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EMC numbers identify every iMac, MacBook, Mac mini and just about every other Apple computer. Many people don’t fully know what they mean, or don’t know they exist at all, but they can be an great method of IDing Apple devices. And in a world where Apple insists on using the same model number for six different computers (I’m looking at you A1278), understanding how to use EMC numbers is downright necessary.

What are EMC numbers?

EMC numbers are often overlooked or unheard of, but are very useful when used properly. EMC stands for “Electromagnetic Compatibility” and, unfortunately, seems more complex than necessary.  Essentially, EMC numbers refer to the ability of electronic equipment to be a ‘good electromagnetic neighbor’, without causing or being susceptible to electromagnetic interference.

Are you confused yet? Don’t stress, all you need to know is that EMC numbers are located on almost every iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air (with the exception of certain older models) and are most commonly used for identification purposes.

What makes EMC Numbers useful.

Apple doesn’t seem to be a fan of the identification methods used by, well basically the entire electronics manufacturing community. Remember, they like to “think different”, but in their goal of simplicity, they don’t really make it easy on you when you’re trying to figure out which upgrade is compatible with your computer, or which part you need to replace when something goes wrong.

The model number, the gold standard of electronics identification. Don’t even bother trying to use it to pinpoint which device you have because Apple likes to use the same model numbers over and over again.

On the other hand, the EMC number is a relatively unique number, usually changing with each official release of a product line. The official release year of each device (always prefaced with Early, Mid, or Late) is also a reliable way to identify an Apple computer, but mysteriously the release year is nowhere to be found on the exterior of the device. Or the interior for that matter.

It is important to note that the EMC number is not a perfect identifier either. It’s not always printed on the exterior of the device, and there isn’t always a unique EMC number for each release of a device. And if you go back far enough into Apple’s product lines, there are no published EMC numbers at all. But short of the serial number, there are no perfect identifiers in Apple land, and the EMC number makes for a better method of identification than most.

Where are EMC Numbers located?

Haven’t seen one before? You can’t find them in your About This Mac window. Despite being so useful, they’re inconveniently located and typically printed in small text. And you won’t find any handy resources on Apple’s site to explain what they mean or which computers were assigned which EMC number.

Elusive? Yes. Distinguishable? Yes! These subtle-little-buggers are found hiding under the bottom case, inside the battery bay or simply printed in plain sight on the back, near the serial and model numbers. Here is a short list of popular Mac series where we’ve found the location of these numbers:

iMac

  • On the back of the housing, sometimes underneath the hinged stand.
  • Underneath the "foot" stand. The surface pointing towards your table.
iMac EMC Number location

MacBook

  • On the underside of the MacBook laptop, near the model/serial number.
  • Inside the battery bay of MacBook laptops with removable batteries.
MacBook Pro Unibody EMC Number location

MacBook Pro

  • On the underside of the MacBook Pro laptop, near the model/serial number.
  • Inside the battery bay of MacBook Pro laptops with removable batteries.
MacBook Pro EMC Number location battery compartment

MacBook Air

  • On the underside of the MacBook Air, near the model/serial number.
MacBook Air EMC number location

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About The Author

Jase Fasiano

Jase is into all things tech, but some might say he's a bit of an Apple fanboy. He also comes up with the best answers when the beetstech staff plays Quiplash.

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vendredvd

excellent

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Marcus Thomas

Actually I’m looking for how to find the EMC number on the Mac Mini, but you seem to have left that model out.

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Corenitn

HI,
I have to change the broken screen of my MBA (early 15′), Model A1466 EMC 2952.
Can I replace it by a A1466 screen whatever the EMC number ? Or do I have to buy the exact EMC model ?

Thanks !

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Edward

Very well spoken, thank you for the knowledge.

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