In this article, you’re going to learn exactly how to remove the anti-reflective coating from your MacBook Pro’s display – the best, easiest, and also an eco-friendly way. Also, you’ll find a simple solution for those who want to restore the anti-reflective qualities of the display.
But before we jump right into it, let me give a little disclaimer:
If you proceed to do anything you read in this article, you do it at your own risk. I’m not taking responsibility for any damage in case you break or damage your computer. I’m just a guy who had the same problem as thousands of others. I’m just trying to help.
Also, in case you are not aware, there is an ongoing Anti-Reflective Coating Repair Program for MacBooks not older than 4 years since the date of the original purchase.
In case you are not sure whether you’re eligible for the free repair, I would strongly recommend visiting an Apple store or your local retailer to see if they can help before you proceed to deal with this issue on your own.
Table of contents
– What’s causing the anti-reflective coating to wear off/delaminate?
– How to prevent staingate on my MacBook Pro?
– Can the anti-reflective layer be repaired?
– How much does the MacBook Pro Retina’s screen coating repair costs?
– Should I remove the anti-reflective coating or keep it as is?
> Reasons for the removal of anti-reflective coating
> Reasons against the removal of anti-reflective coating
– How to remove the anti-reflective coating from the screen?
– Is it safe to use baking soda? What is the logic behind it?
– Are there any other ways to remove the anti-glare coating from MacBook Pro?
– How much more reflective is the screen without the anti-glare coating?
– Which models of MacBook may be affected by this anti-reflective coating issue?
What’s causing the anti-reflective coating to wear off/delaminate?
It’s not completely clear what’s causing this issue to arise, but when researching this topic, as well as from my own experience, I found multiple causes of this problem. The main three being acidity, abrasion, and heat.
Here is the list of specific reasons, which may cause this problem to appear:
- Touching the display.
- Oil and sweat from your fingers on your keyboard and trackpad can cause deterioration to the display when the lid is closed.
- The heat dissipated from the CPU fan.
- The pressure of the screen against the keyboard (e.g., in a crowded backpack).
- Use of strong display cleaners.
How to prevent staingate on my MacBook Pro?
First off all it’s a design flaw, so it’s not clear whether you can prevent this problem from appearing on your MacBook.
On the other hand, there are factors that can speed up the process of delamination. In the following paragraph, you will find a few preventative measures you can take to minimize the chance of delamination:
- Do not touch the display (try to open your MacBook only by the hinge).
- Keep your keyboard and trackpad clean (from grease and sweat).
- Use a dampen (with water) lint-free cloth to clean your MacBook Pro’s screen (source).
- Do not clean your display often nor excessively.
- Do not use alcohol-based display cleaners (preferably avoid all display cleaners).
- Don’t carry MacBook in a crowded backpack – prevent pressure on the lid against the keyboard.
However, from my own experience, I can say that even if you take all precautionary measures, the delamination problem may still occur. The only difference I noticed was the rate of deterioration.
With my first display, I used an alcohol-based LCD cleaner and the microfibre cloth that my MacBook came with. I was trying to keep my screen clean, so I cleaned it approximately 1-2x a month. After a year or so, I started noticing minor delamination on the display. Since I was still eligible for free repair under Apple’s Anti-Reflective Coating Repair Program, I did not hesitate. I brought it to the local store and got it fixed.
Since it took 3 weeks to get it back, I made sure to do my best in order to prevent this issue from coming back in the future.
As you already know, although I have tried to prevent the non-reflective layer from peeling off with all possible measures, I have not succeeded. The main difference was that the anti-glare coating lasted almost 3 years after the initial replacement of the screen. Unfortunately, 5 years after the replacement, the anti-reflective layer became so deteriorated that I decided to remove it altogether.
Can the anti-reflective layer be repaired?
The anti-reflective layer on your MacBook/MacBook Pro can’t be repaired. The only options you have are to either replace the whole screen of your MacBook or to remove the damaged anti-reflective coating.
However, you can use an anti-reflective screen protector to solve the lack of the original anti-reflective layer. It’s a simple and inexpensive solution for those who want the anti-reflective qualities of the display, and as a bonus, it also has an anti-fingerprint and scratch-resistant qualities. If that’s something you are interested in, you can check out the following links depending on the model of your MacBook.
Recommended anti-reflective screen protectors (Amazon links):
Anti-reflective screen protector for 13″ MacBook Pro (2012-2015)
Anti-reflective screen protector for 13″ MacBook Pro (2016-2020)
Anti-reflective screen protector for 15″ MacBook Pro
Anti-reflective screen protector for 12″ MacBook (2015-2017)
How much does the MacBook Pro Retina’s screen coating repair costs?
Depending on the model of your MacBook Pro, the repair of the anti-reflective coating will cost between $500 and $800. The high price of the repair is due to the fact that you have to replace the whole screen. Off-course, if your computer is under AppleCare, the price will be lower.
Should I remove the anti-reflective coating or keep it as is?
As I stated earlier, first, make sure whether or not your computer is eligible for a free repair.
In case you are not eligible for the free repair and are not willing to pay for the replacement of your screen, you may want to consider removing the anti-reflective coating.
If you are questioning whether it’s worth removing, here are my thoughts. In case your screen has only minor defects, and you don’t really notice the issue in day-to-day use, I would not recommend removing it.
On the other hand, if the delamination is very noticeable (covering the majority of your screen) and disrupts your workflow, especially for those working with video or graphics, removing it can be a simple fix. However, it is important to realize whether you are willing to give up the anti-reflective properties of your display completely. If you’re using your computer mostly indoors (or in places without direct sunlight) where higher reflectivity isn’t an issue, than it could be the way to go. If higher reflectivity is an issue for you, you could also use an anti-reflective screen protector with a similar effect as an original coating.
To help you decide, I have created a list of reasons for and against the removal.
Reasons for the removal of anti-reflective coating
- Highly damaged anti-reflective coating.
- A MacBook used mostly indoors or in places without direct sunlight.
- Higher reflectivity doesn’t pose a problem for your workflow.
- Frequent webcam use (when the delaminating gets bad, it can also affect the quality of your built-in camera – see image below).
- Delamination affects your workflow (eg., editing pictures, or videos).
Reasons against the removal of anti-reflective coating
- The screen has only minor defects.
- Frequent use in direct sunlight or outside (can be mitigated with an anti-reflective screen protector).
- The risk of damaging the screen if the coating is removed carelessly.
- Delamination doesn’t affect your workflow (removal solely for aesthetic reasons).
How to remove the anti-reflective coating from the screen?
The best and easiest way to remove the anti-reflective coating from the screen of your MacBook Pro is to use a solution of baking soda and water. But before you proceed to remove it, read the following steps to prevent any damage. Also, check out the list of devices this method is suitable for, as it is intended to be used on Macbooks with glass panel displays.
Prepare a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda mixed with approximately 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of water. The consistency of the solution should be quite thick, not too watery.
Place your laptop on the back of your screen on a clean cloth or a towel (to prevent any scratches while removing the anti-reflective layer).
Dip the cloth in the prepared solution and rub the screen in a circular motion with the solution (do not apply too much pressure on the screen). In a matter of minutes, you should see the anti-glare coating start to come off.
If necessary, reapply the solution and repeat the 3rd step until all the anti-reflective coating is removed.
With another clean cloth, dampened with water, remove the excess baking soda solution from the screen, repeat a couple of times if necessary.
If some of the baking soda gets stuck in the corners of the screen, use a soft toothbrush to brush it out.
Is it safe to use baking soda? What is the logic behind it?
Unlike most other cleaners recommended for this purpose, the baking soda has abrasive qualities, which I find perfect for this job.
Since baking soda has a hardness value of 2.5 on a Mohs’ scale of mineral hardness, it should be safe to use on the glass, which has a hardness around 4-7 on a Mohs’ scale (depending on the type of glass).
As you can see, in the above pictures, my screen looks perfectly clean without even a hint of a scratch. It took me just a few minutes to remove the coating from the screen. Since this method doesn’t require any strong chemicals due to mild abrasive qualities of baking soda, I find this method to be by far the best.
Are there any other ways to remove the anti-glare coating from MacBook Pro?
There are many tips and DIY guides on the web on how to remove the anti-reflective coating from the screen of your MacBook Pro. I’ve tried a couple, but none of them was as good and effective as mine.
If for some reason, you would like to use something nonabrasive instead, you can use Listerine, rubbing alcohol, or wet wipes. However, people reported that it took a couple of hours to get the job done. I would strongly recommend avoiding acetone (or acetone-based cleaners) since some people reported permanent damage to the screen.
Other cleaning agents people recommend on the web (not tested by Home Explained):
- Clorox wipes (wet wipes in general),
- Mr. Clean Magic Sponge,
- Rubbing alcohol,
- Floor cleaner.
Some people suggest that steel wool could also be very effective in removing the AR coating. While I believe it can be effective, I personally haven’t tried it and would be very cautious about doing so. Since steel wool has a much higher hardness (4 on a Mohs’ scale), there is a chance it could potentially damage your screen. In the end, it’s not really clear what hardness of glass does Apple use; thus, I can’t recommend this method.
How much more reflective is the screen without the anti-glare coating?
In case you are wondering how big of a difference in reflectivity is between the screen with the anti-glare compared to the screen without it, you can judge it for yourself in the following comparison.
In the above comparison, you can see two MacBooks that I have placed on a table next to a window in daylight to demonstrate the anti-glare properties. It was taken at 10:00 am, on a sunny day, with clear skies.
When the screen is turned off, the higher reflectivity is more apparent, but with the screens turned on (on full brightness), the differences are much less visible. One thing I’ve also noticed is that the use of curtains can also lower the reflectivity of your display.
Before I decided to remove the anti-reflective coating, I was a bit worried that the higher reflectivity will bother me. But after a month of use, I can safely say that I barely notice it, if at all. Of-course If you have two computers (one with and one without the coating) next to each other, the difference is visible, but if you have nothing to compare it to, you will barely notice it. However, suppose higher reflectivity of the screen is an issue for you. In that case, you can use an anti-reflective screen protector with a similar anti-glare effect as an original coating.
Which models of MacBook may be affected by this anti-reflective coating issue?
I guess it would be easier to write down those that aren’t affected. But if you are wondering, here is the list (source):
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012),
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012),
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2013),
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2013),
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013),
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2013),
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2014),
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2014),
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2015),
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2015),
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016),
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016),
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017),
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017),
- MacBook (12-inch, Early 2015),
- MacBook (12-inch, Early 2016),
- MacBook (12-inch, Early 2017).