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Starting with the Mid-2009 15″ MacBook Pro, Apple began to use special 5-point security screws, in an attempt to prevent users from accessing the internals of their devices. They are now used in all Apple laptops and phones.
There are several different sizes of Pentalobe screws in use by Apple. First, whatever you do, don’t try to open a Pentalobe screw with a normal Phillips or Torx screwdriver. You will, invariably, strip the head and once you’ve done that, there’s no way to undo the screw, even with the correct screwdriver. If you do manage to strip the head, there are a few things you can try below.
Which size of screwdriver is needed for which device?
P2 (also known as TS1 or 0.8mm): All iPhone models from iPhone 4 to iPhone X (previous iPhones used standard Phillips #00 screws)
P5 (also known as TS4 or 1.2mm): MacBook Air from 2010 onwards, MacBook Pro with Retina Display, MacBook Pro with USB-C, 12″ Retina MacBook.
P6 (also known as TS5 or 1.5 mm): MacBook Pro 15″ (2009) Battery
I stripped the head. Now what?
- Try using a small 1.5mm or 2mm flat head screwdriver to notch out anchor points in the head and unscrew it.
- Use a tiny dab of super-glue to attach a hex bit or torx bit to the screw, wait for it to dry, and try turning it.
- Try fitting a rubber band over a hex or torx tip that almost fits and pushing down hard on the screw while you turn it. Often, the friction will be enough to turn the screw.
- Drill it out with a tiny drill bit (not recommended).
Fortunately, Pentalobe screwdriver sets are sold by a number of manufacturers. One of the best is by iFixit, as part of their iFixit Essential Electronics Toolkit and is available to buy on Amazon.
As well as Pentalobe P2 and P5 bits, you also get 14 other prevision screwdriver bits, angled tweezers, opening picks and an assortment of other very useful electronics repair tools all stored in a handy magnetized case.