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I wanted to upgrade the HDD on my girlfriend's 21" iMac (mid 2011) to a solid state drive. I've replaced storage on older models of iMacs, macbooks and a bunch of PCs but never attempted this model. It's super easy to do on Macbooks and PCs but anything that involves fiddling with the LCD on a computer always makes me take a step back.
Luckily for me iFixit had a very detailed video walkthrough for the exact model I was working with. HIGHLY recommend the repair kit. Couldn't have done it without the suction cups and the screwdriver kit has the exact size and type of bits I needed to take out the screws in the iMac. The bits are magnetic and there's also a pair of tweezers to pull out any runaway screws. I followed the instructions in the repair video and so I didn't have any trouble replacing the drive. My girlfriend helped hold up the LCD screen while i disconnected the wires so the extra pair of hands were helpful.
The original plan was to pop in the solid state drive and use the install/recover disks that come with the iMac to reinstall the OS. Realized just before I was ready to take the computer apart that my girlfriend had lost the disks. Luckily i read online that this (and subsequent) generation) iMac comes with the recovery software built into the firmware. So after I put in the drive and restarted the computer, i held down Command+R and it launched the internet recovery (while it can use wifi to connect to the internet, a cable is much better). Was then able to use the internet recovery to reinstall the OS and files from a time machine backup. Word of advice, if you stop the recovery process midway for some reason (like I did) and try to start it again, you'll have issues because the drive will show up as locked. If that happens, the only thing you can do is to open the iMac again, pull out the drive, and erase it and start theprocess from the very beginning.