"You may need to apply force"

This is the story of the time my wife and I decided to mount her 24" iMac to the wall.  I'll just cut to the chase: you can do it; don't try it.

Straight, plumb, square, centred, level--pick any eight.  That's what we were after.  Our goal was to perfectly fit this iMac as tight to the wall as possible, and do it properly.  The iMac is highly adjustable for people built exactly the right height to use it (I haven't measured Steve Jobs, but I can extrapolate his height based on the design of this stand).  For everyone else, including my wife, it's totally wrong.  For my wife, it's too high, and the depth of the stand takes up too much space on her desk.  "Why don't we just mount this thing to the wall?"

Let's start with what you need to do this (or some of what you need):

  • Apple VESA mount
  • VESA wall mount, we chose this simple one.
    Now, the very first thing you have to do is remove your precious iMac from its stand.  If this was any normal computer company, you'd grab a screw driver and remove 4 screws.  Think Differnt.  What you have to do instead is tip your monitor as far forward as you possibly can, and then insert a specially designed (it had it's own custom plastic wrap even) credit-card shaped piece of plastic that comes with the Apple mount kit.  I love that it's a credit card you have to use, reminding you of how much you'll need to spend if you get this wrong.

So you have to slide this card at this impossible angle to release a "switch" which isn't visible.  My wife and I both tried in vain for 15 minutes.  Eventually we got it and the monitor was able to move even further forward, revealing 8 small screws.

Next use the Apple Torx Tool provided in the kit to remove the eight screws.  OK, so first one is out like butter.  Second one, "Wow, not moving."  Third, "Uh oh, I'm starting to strip it."  Fourth one, "This tool just snapped off in the screw!"  OK, don't panic.  It has two ends.  Just get pliars and remove the broken tip, and try the other end, using pliars for leverage.  Five, six, seven, eight.  Done.

Next you have to attach this perfectly machined metal plate over the spot where you took the screws out.  Nothing you can do causes it to line up with the holes on the mounting plate you're attaching it to.  "Why don't you just try it and if it's wrong we can take it off and turn it?"  "Well, I'm down to 1/2 of a Torx Tool."

We experiment every way possible, and decide to reject the diagram in the instructions, and just go for it (we were right, by the way, come on Apple!).  The plate is on, the Torx Tool is still in one piece (well 1/2 piece), and the next step is to use the Torx Tool again to crank down the plate until it basically bends the plate such that two perfectly machined screw holes line up on the sides.  Great.

At this point the instructions admit that this tool isn't up to the challenge and recommend you find a Torx screwdriver.  Luckily I have one (which I didn't know until this project!), but forget about using anything other than a socket wrench with Torx attachment.  You have to really go at it, and it's not a good feeling hearing the sounds the back of the iMac is making.

I get it down to the point that I can insert the right-hand screw, and after much work, I get it 98% of the way in.  You have to use their special Hex Tool for this, and I'm not loving how much I have to push to make it happen.  I decide to go to the other side and try it.  It doesn't come close to lining-up.  So I go to work on the top screw again with the Torx and eventually strip it clean.  "I guess that's as far as I'll go, then."

It's do or die on the left-hand screw now.  You know when you're into a project far enough that there's no going back?  I'm 2 hours and 1 Torx Tool past that point now.  So I have two empty cylanders of metal that aren't quite lined up.  This isn't wood, I can't just drill a new hole.  So I give it everything I have with the socket wrench, and it catches a thread and jumps into place.  So now the plate is mounted, and I'm shaking with "this has to work."

On to the wall mount.  We open the box.  "I think we're missing some screws here."  At the store, I asked the guy, "Is this everything I need to get this mounted?"  Of course it is, am I crazy?  Yeah, I'm crazy.  I'm crazy like a guy with no screws and an iMac that isn't going back on its stand.  Ever.

So I look again at the Apple mount kit.  Four perfectly drilled holes, not a word on what size screws you need.  Now honestly, Apple.  You've drilled these damn holes, surely you know what size they are?  I mean, charge me an extra $10 dollars if you want and give me the damned screws!  No screws.  And there are no screws in the mount kit.  Do both Apple and the company who made the mounting bracket both expect me to use double-sided tape?  Can't one of them take responsibility for the fact that I'm going to need these?

"Wait, they are listed on this parts manifest, they just aren't in the box."  So the mounting bracket is supposed to ship wtih what I need.  Except, I don't have anything except a little picture of them, and a fake plastic credit card from Apple to buy them with.  It's very dark outside.

It's to the point where I get desperate.  My youngest daughter has a screw collection.  "Go into her room, and grab it without waking her!"  My wife gets the contraband screw collection, and starts looking.  Meanwhile I go to the basement and look through random screws I have from other projects.  "I think these are 4mm, maybe 5mm"  I try them.  The booklet says, "DO NOT FORCE SCREWS INTO THE BACK OF THE MONITOR"  Too big.  "Wait, what are these?"  Like manna from Heaven, my wife locates 4 mounting screws exactly to spec:  "These are 4mm x 25mm!"  I have no idea where they are from, or what they are for.  I don't care, they are going into this plate.

I now have a plate mounted to the back of the Apple mount kit mounted to the iMac.  We're almost home.  Now I just have to drill and seat 3 x 3/4" by 3" lag bolts into our wall.  Let me take you back, though.  When we built our house, we prepared for this day.  We knew that we'd want to do this in the future, so we had our builder put wood backing between the studs, and then we took pictures of the walls before they closed them up.  Fast forward to me sweating with a drill in my hand, and a picture in the other.

We take the backing plate and measure, level, and trace the holes we need to drill.  Then we quickly realize that two things have happened.  First, there is a metal plate over a stud directly under the bottom hole.  Second, there are 2 electrical wires going somewhere between the second and third holes behind the backing.  I look at the 3" lag bolts.  Trouble.

The guy at the store, the one who sold me a mounting bracket with no screws, did give me four extra lag bolts.  "These ones look too big, use these smaller ones."  I wasn't planning to use them, but now that I can't use the bottom of three holes, I have to.  I decide to do two large lag bolts, and then extra smaller ones on the sides.

But I have no washers.  Why would he give me washers for these lag bolts?  Exactly.  So back to my daughter's screw collection, and there's one.  I need three more.  "Phone my dad, and see if he has them."  A quick trip over to my father-in-law's produces four washers, all a little bit different.  Think Different.

I drill six holes, and use the socket to seat them into the backing.  When I'm done, we get out the level again to see how much we're off.  I can't look, cause there is no correcting this mess.  It's dead on perfect.  I could cry.  We try inserting the iMac, and it's magic how it just sits there on the wall perfect height, perfectly level.

"That was easy."  Don't try this at home.

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