MacBook Pro Power-On Pads – Location and Use

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If your MacBook Pro won’t power on, there’s an easy way to determine if the power button is to blame. This procedure takes only minutes, in the end, you’ll either have diagnosed the issue in only a few minute’s time or you’ll have quickly ruled out one of the common issues that prevent a MacBook Pro from turning on.

My Unibody MacBook Pro doesn’t turn on

Apple was generous enough to design an integrated method for bypassing the power button on all MacBook logic boards. Below I’ll show you how to use the power pads, as well as provide high-res reference photos of the locations of the power pads for each release of the MacBook Pro Unibody laptops.

We’ve talked about this before on the Beetstech Blog. If you’re looking for info on MacBook Air models follow this link.

Why use power-on pads?

There are countless reasons why your MacBook Pro might not turn on, and this procedure only rules out a single, but very common root cause. The power button is connected to the logic board via the same 30-pin or 40-pin cable as the rest of the keyboard, and of those pins, only two are necessary for the signal to travel from the power button to the logic board. There are probably quite a few ways you could damage this connection if you were creative enough, but we typically find either corrosion from a liquid spill damaged the keyboard connector on the logic board, or the keyboard flex cable was damaged from repeatedly attempting (and failing) to insert the cable.

 

Diagnosing hardware issues is a simple process of elimination, and to make the most efficient use of your time, you should first target the possibilities that give you the best bang for your buck. If there’s a component that fails more frequently than others or if the computer’s layout provides quick, easy access to a component, you should prioritize eliminating those possibilities first. The power button ticks both of those boxes for us and ruling it out early could very well get you your diagnosis in a matter of minutes. But if you still can’t power on the computer after bypassing the power button, you won’t have spent much time or effort and your list of possibilities will have shrunk by one.

How do I use the power pads?

Tools Needed

  • The proper screwdriver to remove bottom case screws for your particular model.
  • A paperclip with electrical tape on the area you will hold (to act as an insulator) or a flat head screwdriver.

Steps

  1. Remove the bottom case.
  2. Don’t forget to protect your computer from ESD discharge by grounding yourself ahead of time.
  3. Disconnect the power adapter and battery. Connecting/disconnecting other cables while power is connected can cause damage.
  4. Disconnect the keyboard cable from your logic board. This step is very important! If you leave the keyboard plugged into the logic board, the power pads won’t work.
  5. Now that the keyboard cable is disconnected, plug the battery in again.
  6. Locate the power-on pads using the reference pictures below.
  7. Use the paper clip or flat head screwdriver to bridge the connection with the 2 power-on pads. Maintain the bridge for a maximum of three seconds.
  8. If the fan doesn’t start spinning after 10 seconds, then reattempt the bridge between the power-on pads.

MacBook Pro 13" Unibody (Model A1278)

MacBook Pro 15" Unibody (Model A1286)

MacBook Pro 17" Unibody (Model A1297)

A1278 Late 2008

820-2327-A

A1278 2008 Power On Pads

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A1278 Mid 2009

820-2530-A

A1278 2009 Power On Pads

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A1278 Early 2011 / Late 2011

820-2936-A, 820-2936-B

A1278 2011 Power On Pads

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A1286 Late 2008 / Early 2009

820-2330-A, 820-2532-A

A1286 Late 2008 Power On Pads

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A1286 Mid 2009

820-2523-B

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A1286 Mid 2009 (2.53GHz CPU w/ single fan)

820-2533-A, 820-2533-B

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A1286 Mid 2010

820-2850-A

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A1286 Early 2011 / Late 2011

820-2915-A, 820-2915-B

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A1297 Early 2009 / Mid 2009

820-2390-A, 820-2610-A

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A1297 Mid 2010

820-2849-A

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A1297 Early 2011 / Late 2011

820-2914-A, 820-2914-B

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About The Author

Jase Fasiano

Jase is into all things tech, but some might say he's a bit of an Apple fanboy. He also comes up with the best answers when the beetstech staff plays Quiplash.

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Aaron

When will you have the other 17 inch power pads up?

Guest
Larsen

What damage could be done to my MacBook if I didn’t unplug everything before I tried the power pads? I was able to turn on my computer several times with the power pads. But now, there is no evidence of power to the MacBook, at all.

Guest
zaskaraska

Hello everyone. I want to use the logic board of my macbook late 2008 for a desktop htpc. The problem is the power button.
I think should be possible solder the power pads to the cables of an ATX power button… but I don’t know (I don’t know nothing about electronics :S ) Any idea?

Guest
Eligio Thomas

Where can you go to purchase wiring diagrams for macbook pro mid 2010 15 in ?

Guest
Jeff K

I have been directed to this page from Apple community support forum regarding a replacement keyboard for a mid 2009 Macbook Pro 15″ 2.53 Ghz. I can use and external keyboard but I cannot try to correct the keyboard issue by resetting the nvram (pram) or smc. So I was advised to try to disconnect the internal keyboard and try the external keyboard. But with the internal keyboard disconnected the power button won’t power on the machine. So how would I use the instruction here to be able to reset the pram with external keyboard? The original keyboard for this… Read more »

Guest
Ian Leahy

awesome! It worked. Late 2008 still running! Thank you! Two days it didn’t work pram nothing.

Guest
Austen

I have recently run into the same problem with my MacBook Pro A1278. A bit of water had been spilled onto my keyboard while I was sleeping the next morning I found it and wouldn’t power on. I opened it up and found no trace of water on the logic board. I waited about a week and tried to start it again, no luck. I disconnected the keyboard and tried to use the power pads. I hear something moving but that’s about it. Is there anyone that knows how to diagnose this further or at this point is it for… Read more »

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