12

Make your MacBook Pro Region Free

Coming from a PC background. The one thing I’ve always taken for granted was the ability to play my DVDs on my laptop (regardless of teh region code). However Sony made a poor decision to bootstrap its users by putting Matshita (sometimes referred to as Matsushita) DVD drives in their notebooks. Unsurprisingly, Apple also use these damned drives in their Macbook / MacBok Pro’s (this may work on desktop Mac’s too – I haven’t tried it).

The problem with these drives is that they are firmware locked (They encrypt the firmware on the drive so regardless of the software by-passing of the region code, the drive knows what its region is and no software is going to tell it otherwise).

Bummer huh?

Well I’d kind of resigned myself to the fact that until the MPAA et al. realized that region coding sucked and didn’t contribute to nor stopped piracy that it would be a fact of life and we’d have to live with it.

Scratch that thought! Today is a new dawn :p You see I’m writing this on my shiny 17″ MacBook Pro while watching a region 1 version of Blade on my (until 5 minutes ago) RPC-2 region 2 internal Superdrive…Anyone who knows anything about DVD encoding and region locking will know that there is a chance in hell of watching a region 1 DVD on a RPC-2 region 2 device. Yup my drive is now region free!

I can change the region as many times and to any region I choose, when I choose. So if you are willing to take the risk of turning your Mac DVD drive into a cute looking post box read on to find out how.

OK, firstly I will make this very clear.

IF YOU DO THIS, YOU RUN THE RISK OF PERMANENTLY DAMAGING YOUR DVD HARDWARE. TO THE POINT THAT IT WILL NO LONGER WORK. APPLE WILL NOT COVER IT UNDER WARRANTY AND IT WILL COST A LOT TO REPLACE.

You have been warned, and if that didn’t put you off this is how you do it.

  • You need to know the type of DVD drive you have in your Mac so open the System Profiler (Apple Menu > About This Mac > More Info… > Disc Burning)
  • Write down the Model and version of the drive installed (it’s should be in bold at the top of the right pane)
  • Locate the entry on the right that is titled “Firmware Revision” – Mine is FAV1 (write this down also)
  • Head over to this site: Various RPC1 Apple Firmwares for Matshita UJ-8xxx Drives
  • READ THE ENTIRE POST
  • Now read this post: Matshita DVD-R UJ-85x For MacBook Pro
  • Download the relevant firmware (DO NOT PICK A SIMILAR ONE as this will not work. If it’s not present you could try PM-ing ben11 and asking him if he has a version in progress for your model and firmware)
  • Follow the READ!.txt included in the zip you downloaded
  • Update your firmware as per the instructions included in the READ!.txt

If successful give it a test. The image below shows what you should see once flashed – the important bit in the image is the RPC-1 (region free) entry.

Once you have followed the procedure (and the above steps are just a guide – full details can be found via the links). You’ll need a few apps to check it has worked. I have placed links below so you can grab them easily:

DVD Info X – This queries your DVD hardware and will return information that isn’t easily accessible natively in OSX

Region X – You’ll need this to manually change your region settings when you want to play a DVD

Finally a BIG shout out and thanks to ben11 over at The Firmware Page(THIS LINK APPEARS DEAD – I’m in the process of looking for a cached version) for taking the time and trouble to provide a solution to this niggling problem of region locking. Way to go m8. Thank you.

Mike Jones

12 Comments

  1. @Cris, yeah they tend to go up and down like a yo-yo. I’ll leave them as is but check them again in a few days. If they are dead I’ll strike them through and see if I can find a Google cached version instead.

  2. hi, ive changed my regions 5 times now so it is actually now stuck to the region in US, i am from uk but brought my MBP ikn the states. is my only option to flash my drive like stated as i can play any different region dvds on VLC etc…

    please post if anyone can help

    cheers,
    Andy

  3. Hi Andy, you’d only need to flash your drive if you can’t view DVD’s other than those locked to the players region. I did mine because VLC couldn’t get past the firmware lock on my player.

    However, I suggest caution as you need to have the exact firmware update for the correct drive; otehrwise you could end up bricking your drive.

  4. Can you convert the DVD movie to MPG or something so it will play all the time without regard to region?

  5. Hi,

    I am trying to flash my drive as I have unknowingly changed my region 5 times so I am locked.
    This is my current set up taken from system profiler > disc burning:

    HL-DT-ST DVDRW GS21N:

    Firmware Revision: SA18
    Interconnect: ATAPI
    Burn Support: Yes (Apple Shipping Drive)
    Cache: 2048 KB
    Reads DVD: Yes
    CD-Write: -R, -RW
    DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
    Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, CD-Raw, DVD-DAO
    Media: To show the available burn speeds, insert a disc and choose View > Refresh

    I have found instructions for all of the Matsushita drives but I believe mine is LG?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank-you

  6. in my case, I just put DVDs and play them with VLC. The app “DVD Player” opens and asks me to set the region, I just ignore it (don’t quit “DVD Player” or it will eject the DVD before closing)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *