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There is a tiny plastic ball stuck in my Mac Book's audio port.

  • I have shaken my Mac: failed.
  • I have tried to take it out with a vacuum cleaner: failed.
  • Tried to take it out with a pin : failed.
  • Tried to take it out with a toothpick which has glue on the edge. The ball doesn't come off, even with that. The toothpick is broken inside the port.

    I know that sounds stupid but there you are. Any advice? Should open my mac? It is still under warranty but I doubt that this issue will be repaired under warranty.

  • 2
    Opening the Mac probably won't help. The headphones port is usually a closed socket that isn't built to be easy to disassemble. You'd have to desolder it and install a new socket, and that's a major operation with risk of damage to the (expensive) logic board. – Hobbes Sep 29 '16 at 9:51
  • Is the plastic ball adhered to the side? If not, I'd use a thin pair of tweezers and carefully remove it. – perhapsmaybeharry Sep 29 '16 at 11:07
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    Do you have any jeweler friends? They have small tools and steady hands. – James Sep 29 '16 at 11:20
  • Can you add a few pictures to your question so we can understand the situation better. – Daniel Storm Sep 29 '16 at 11:52
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    You could take it to Apple store and claim the audio port was non-functional when you bought it. If it's been a while since you bought it you could say you hadn't tried using the headphone port until recently. It would be good if you could get the toothpick out first, but even if not, you could explain that you were trying to fix the problem on your own. Hopefully whoever you talk to at Apple store won't be a stickler for warranty repairs. And if they are you could try the store at a later time or try a different store. – Χpẘ Mar 28 '17 at 0:26
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While researching more on SO, I found the following image on this thread.

Headphone Jack Diagram

There are 2 possibilities :

  1. The plastic ball's diameter is bigger than the end of the tube and it is stuck before the point where the tube gets narrow (at point just before 404).

  2. The diameter of the ball is small and it has reached the end of the tube (in the narrower region, marked by right red arrow).

(To determine the case, then you can try shaking your laptop and holding it close to your ears. If you can hear a slight sound, then it's probably case 2, else its stuck at case 1.

You said you tried with a toothpick and glue, and it didn't work. This suggests that it might be the second case.)

In both cases however, you can take a needle and try to poke and break the ball into pieces. Broken pieces might fallout then.

Precaution : This might damage the internals of your laptop. Proceed at your own risk.

  • Breaking up the ball into smaller pieces makes those smaller pieces likely to lodge in the port -- not sure that would make things worse, in this case, but it's unlikely (IMO) to solve the problem. A version of this that might actually work is to use a straightened fish hook; push the barbed point through the ball, and it'll capture the ball and let you pull it out. Down side is, if you damage the socket, you void your warranty and you're back to taking the computer to the Apple Store. – Zeiss Ikon Sep 30 '16 at 11:16
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    The image shows there's a series of obstructions in the port (the pins sticking out). If you can break up the ball, the pieces will have a diameter smaller than the clearance between the pin and the opposite wall of the socket, making it more likely the pieces can be removed. – Hobbes Sep 30 '16 at 13:05
  • @Hobbes I agree that the smaller pieces will probably come out because they won't be wedged in like the ball is currently. (That was my answer to this!) But Zeiss Ikon, that fishing hook idea is pretty great! – BrettFromLA Sep 30 '16 at 18:19
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So, the toothpick is now glued into the port, locking the ball in? I think you're to the point of needing a technician. This would be a major operation on most laptops, but with the proprietary parts Apple loves to use in Mac systems, just getting a replacement socket that will fit (both the space and the solder pads) may be a challenge -- plus the point from comments, that soldering on the system board is a high risk operation.

Take the computer to the Apple Store and let their techs deal with it. At least that way, your warranty will be preserved after the repair.

4

The headphone jack is metal, while the ball is softer plastic. The following may work:

  1. Find a very tiny drill bit that can slide easily inside headphone jack.
  2. Wrap a piece of Scotch tape around the bit next to the tip, leaving the tip exposed.
  3. Hold the bit with your fingers (not a power drill!!), and slide it into the headphone jack. The Scotch tape around the bit should protect the inside of the jack, but the exposed tip should be able to grind away at the ball.
  4. Rotate the bit back and forth with your fingers, apply a little bit of pressure. The plastic ball should "erode" into smaller bits of plastic. I imagine you'll be able to tell when it's gone, or you could pull out the bit every few rotations to check on your progress.
  5. When you're done, you can tip up the computer to dump out some of the plastic shavings, and clean out the rest using compressed air or a wooden toothpick.

Note to electronics experts: If this is a terrible idea because it will ruin the jack despite the Scotch tape around the bit, and I get enough comments and thumbs down, I'll remove this answer.

  • Breaking up the ball into smaller pieces makes those smaller pieces likely to lodge in the port -- not sure that would make things worse, in this case, but it's unlikely (IMO) to solve the problem. – Zeiss Ikon Sep 30 '16 at 11:14
  • @ZeissIkon You might be right. But my assumption is that the jack is a tube with a constant diameter, and the ball is stuck because it's equal to or slightly greater than the diameter. If the ball is turned into tinier pieces that are smaller than the diameter of the tube, then they should be easier to remove because friction won't be keeping them in place. – BrettFromLA Sep 30 '16 at 18:16
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Use tweezers (the sharp type of tweezers used for soldering or medicine) I know you tried toothpicks but tweezers are different! tweezers always save me in these kind of situations! specially considering they don't break, be careful not to push the ball further however!

alternatively, use a stronger glue and a tooth pick, insert it while its wet and pull it after letting it dry overnight! do all of these on your own risk!

you can also insert a hot pin if it's a plastic ball but I wouldn't as you have to be insanely careful! but you can apply some hot air with hair drier to change it's shape!

1

Use a pin/needle.

  1. On the laptop, mark the depth of the socket. Use e.g. some adhesive tape (painter's masking tape), line up the edge of the tape with the end of the socket. This way you can see how far you can insert your pin without hitting the end of the socket. The adhesive tape can be removed afterwards.

  2. Check how far you can insert the pin.

  3. Heat the pin. You can use a soldering iron, or your gas range. Use pliers to hold the pin.

  4. Insert the pin into the ball. With any luck, the plastic will soften, and your pin will be embedded in the ball. If it doesn't work, the ball is made of a thermo-hardening plastic.

  5. Wait for the pin to cool down and the plastic to solidify.

  6. Withdraw the pin, hopefully with the ball attached.
1

Once i used a a heated pin to remove the tip of an RGB cable, pin or needle or anything equivalent

it pierced through it like butter ( luckily it was plastic ) and i waited for it to harden again and it just stuck to the pin and i just pulled it easily.

maybe use something to stabilize the pin ,for safety , because you'll be shaking (at least i do) like through a hole in a piece of paper. like in billiard or something.

Sorry for any poor phrasing or misexplanation

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I think the best advice is you find a jeweler. If that is not possible, I would go to a hobby store and get a pin vice and very fine drill bits(about the size of a pencil led). The pin vice is made to hold very small drill bits and pins that you can twist by hand. Make a small hole in the ball but not all the way thru(use the advice above to judge the depth you need to drill). Then take a tapered screw that will fit in the audio jack and is long enough to screw into the ball and twist it into the ball. With any luck you should be able to then remove the ball. Good luck.

1

Does the Macbook have a USB port? If so, forget about the headphone socket and use an external USB sound converter. (I had to do this when I found a samsung laptop with speakers and a headphone socket didn't actually have the headphone socket connected to anything. Samsung said 'but it's got speakers, why would you want to use headphones?' showing no appreciation of real life.

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