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DIY: Using a Bubble-Mailer as a Laptop or Netbook Sleeve

(As shown on lifehacker and now Instructables!)

I needed a laptop sleeve for my iBook, but didn’t feel like waiting days for a glorified computer glove. Using a bubble-mailer is a cheap replacement if you plan on carrying your laptop in a schoolbag.

Apple laptop next to bubble sleeve


The bubble mailer itself is a sufficient sleeve for the duties of a backpack. I wouldn’t want to drop-test it, but so far have no complaints. I also added a simple Apple logo to the front using transparent printer sheets. If you don’t already own these, it might be cost-prohibitive (at least in the sense of using a bubble-mailer to protect a laptop.) I bought my pack in the clearance section of Staples. My Mac is an iBook, so I picked a representative apple. Choose yours accordingly.

Sleeve with logo

After adding the logo

Points to consider if you’re planning to put a logo on:

  • I used pencil to trace the top of the apple and leaf since these were cut separately. If I were to make a second sleeve, I wouldn’t use pencil. The marks smeared when I tried to erase it and is noticeable up close. In the face of “measure once, cut twice,” I say eyeball it. You can use the top of your Mactop as a reference.
  • I originally considered printing “iBook” in Apple font instead. I thought it would be more elegant, and simple. Nothing is more simple than an apple. If you decide to print text, be prepared to cut it right and measure the distance between characters. I found a pack of fonts for Windows on the forums and found Myriad Pro to be the nicest looking of the group.
  • The apple is in the middle of the top of an iBook. My printed apple ended up being approximately 5 inches tall and 4 inches wide. The larger size looks proportionate to the bag and gives you grace when measuring the center of the sleeve.
  • Everything is sticky about a bubble-mailer. Be delicate sticking the apple on — you have (about) two shots before they become one.

The last modification was the strip of Velcro. The section at the opening comes with a plastic strip protecting the sticky side. Over time the plastic strip begins to peel away and defaults to melding with the other side, turning your sleeve into a ready-to-mail package. I don’t want to mail my laptop, so I put Velcro on to repalce the glue strip.


Velcro applied

Now you can keep your laptop in the sleeve and avoid the inevitable packaging of your laptop. The same stickiness warning from above applies here. After you lay down the first Velcro side, attach the second on top as if you were closing the lid. Then peel away the paper backing and press the package against it.

That’s it! I’ve been using it for a couple weeks so far and it’s working great. I hear the occasional bubble pop once in a while, but for a total cost of three dollars it’s worth it. Here’s exactly what I used for anyone with a similarly small laptop or netbook:

Materials used:

  • (1) Staples QuickStrip Poly Bubble Mailers, #5.
  • Dollar store Velcro strips.
  • (1) Sheet of Avery 8665 Clear Inkjet Full Sheet Shipping Labels, bought on clearance.
Carrying the finished sleeve

Carrying the the backpack

Does anyone else use a bubble-mailer for their laptop? Do you have stories or variations on design?

Write a Comment


  1. Grand feed. BTW a link to your posting at Christian Dillstrom’s list of recommended web-sites, you are doing a superb job as mobile + social media marketing top dog is pointing towards you!

  2. I never even though of that! The whole world is missing out on the cheapest everything-bag there is. The fact that it fits in your backpack/is for food is the best combination ever.

  3. I attempted something similar a while back but then realized I had too many laptops to do this for each one. I should probably get a life.

    That said, I’ve totally used these as lunch boxes. I lined the inside with foil/insulation (created a pouch \o/) and packed everything in it so that it was still flat. I was sick of awkwardly shaped lunch boxes/bags that didn’t fit in my backpack after I was done with them, and it was the perfect solution.

  4. If this page had a submit to reddit/upvote link, i’d click it. 🙂

  5. Michelle: But now I’m strange with a mac sleeve!

    Anonymous, yes. I did!

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