Yosemite introduces a lot of great features. I personally love Handoff where you can start a document or e-mail on one device and seamlessly continue it on a different one. I already had it working between my iPhone 5s and iPad Air but soon found that my Macbook Pro did not comply to the technical requirements.
I got it working now! If you want to know how; then read on!
[update oct 2nd, 2015]
With 10.11 El Capitan I followed the instructions to re-enable Continuity and found that my WiFi stopped working (‘No WiFi Hardware Found’). Turns out, all I needed to do was to disable kext-signing check with
sudo nvram boot-args=kext-dev-mode=1
Although my search for all the parts of the puzzle did not go smoothly or in the order you’ll find the instructions below, this is the solution that eventually made it happen;
Let me remind you, this is for the A1297 Late ’11. Apple did something funny with this ‘the last 17″ ever made’ series; it shares it’s model number with it’s predecessors, the A1297 Mid 2010 and the A1297 Early 2011. Now I don’t know if this happend to other series as well, but I do know that the Mid 2010 model is substantially different in hardware design.
iFixit has a great tutorial on replacing the board, but as said; the pics don’t match, the parts are different. You can still learn about DIY hardware replacements on that fantastic website though.
The Bluetooth and WiFi boards on the 2010 model are 2 separate units; One is near the optical drive, the other is inside the display-hinge-assembly (yes, the black bar that’s attached to the base of the display! Weird choice of placement!) and consequently the cables are all different to these components.
The Late 2011 version has a single board for both WiFi and Bluetooth. Here’s a pic;
This module is housed in the ‘Airport Card Assembly’ for which I also found a pic on the web. (No, unfortunately I did not snap some pics myself… stupid me.)
This unit is sealed with a special tape that blocks radio signals – I suppose. My guess is that the signal should go out the wires, and not directly into the machine. Precautionary I think. This is all speculation, but the tape looks and feels special, so be sure to be careful removing it (partly) and resealing it after replacing the module.
Another pic I found on the web shows the location of this unit;
And now; how to do it?
(I did it this way. perhaps not the best or fastest way but it works. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS EXPERIENCED IN HANDLING DELICATE EQUIPMENT. I do NOT take any responsibility if you screw it up!)
- Remove the bottom plate of the machine (7 small screws, 3 long screws)
- Disconnect the three WiFi antenna wires and the bluetooth antenna wire
- Remove the two screws that hold the assembly to the body (1 small screw, 1 longer)
- Disconnect the PCIe cable (the flat one that runs across the Optical Bay) from the logic board. The other site is taped, leave that in tact.
- Very carefully remove the Antenna cables and the USB cable (that’s the small cable with the tiny connector) from the Assembly. (Really, be very very careful with these, they are super thin and therefore very fragile. If you think you’re being careful; be twice as careful!)
- You should now be able to remove the assembly by sliding it out – this way you don’t need to disconnect the USB cable.
- Flip it over, and very gently remove the tape. Save it, because it needs to go back on! (Best not to remove it entirely, just undo 3 sides and leave the 4th side attached.
- Undo the 3 tiny screws that hold the Airport Card to the Assembly.
- Remove the card (this is tricky because the PCI-e cable is still attached, but it will come loose if you gently rock the card a bit. Alternatively, undo the tape on the other side as well…
- Insert the replacement card. For Handoff in this model you’ll need a BCM94331PCIEBT4CAX. (I got mine here) And yes, the CAX is important. If not CAX, then you won’t get Handoff or Instant Hotspot and this exercise is useless.
- Make sure the PCIe cable is attached properly.
- Screw the unit in place (3 tiny screws)
- Reseal the package
- Flip it over and slide it back in place in the body
- Reseat all cables in the assembly
- Screw the assembly in place
- Connect the PCIe cable to the logic board
- Connect the antenna cables (damn these connectors are small! Please be careful!
- Screw the bottom plate back on (7 small screws, 3 long screws)
Done? Yes!… No!… The hardware is done, the software is not.
In case of 10.11 El Capitan, you need to boot your machine to recovery with cmd+R before the boing. Then start Terminal from the menu and disable the code-signing-protection with
After booting up the machine, check if you have WiFi connectivity. I did, so that’s why I did not mention before. WiFi should work, but if not, use a wired connection!
Continue on and download a software tool called Continuity Activation tool. For El Capitan, make sure it’s version 2.0.0 beta or higher.
Download the zip file, unpack it and run it.
Start with DIAGNOSTICS. This wil probably tell you everything is alright except not being in Developer mode. See next pic; where it says; Verifying OS Kext Protection, it will say something like “Not in developer mode, need to reboot”
It will reboot for you. After reboot, let the tool do it’s magic. Takes about 15 minutes but you only have to sit and watch. (the long duration is because it will check disk permissions twice in the process)
Finally the tool gives a few instructions, follow them! I found myself not following them and cursing it still did not work, so just do it :)
And now; I got features that only new Macs have on my Late 2011 17″ Macbook Pro 8,3 and with that prolonging it’s life for at least two more years :P
Thank you for reading!