What voltage readings should I get from my 60 watt Magsafe if I check the pins with a multimeter? My readings are all below 1 volt (I checked all combinations of pins), but I don't know if this is correct since there is no load. Also what pins should I check? My computer is a MacBook Pro 2011 early model.


3 Answers 3


A good description can be found at Teardown and exploration of Apple's Magsafe connector

Below is taken verbatim from the above link.

The charger startup process

When the Magsafe connector is plugged into a Mac, a lot more happens than you might expect. I believe the following steps take place:

  1. The charger provides a very low current (about 100 µA) 6 volt signal on the power pins (3 volts for Magsafe 2).
  2. When the Magsafe connector is plugged into the Mac, the Mac applies a resistive load (e.g. 39.41KΩ), pulling the power input low to about 1.7 volts.
  3. The charger detects the power input has been pulled low, but not too low. (A short or a significant load will not enable the charger.) After exactly one second, the charger switches to full voltage (14.85 to 20 volts depending on model and wattage). There's a 16-bit microprocessor inside the charger to control this and other charger functions.
  4. The Mac detects the full voltage on the power input and reads the charger ID using the 1-Wire protocol.

If the Mac is happy with the charger ID, it switches the power input to the internal power conversion circuit and starts using the input power. The Mac switches on the appropriate LED on the connector using the 1-Wire protocol.

This process explains why there is a delay of a second after you connect the charger before the light turns on and the computer indicates the battery is charging. It also explains why if you measure the charger output with a voltmeter, you don't find much voltage.

  • Ah, so the charger may be ok. I can't test it on a macbook (yet) so I don't know if it will work.
    – Brandon
    May 3, 2016 at 9:35
  • This makes testing the adapter a real pita. Mar 11, 2018 at 22:07

Mixing answers from @David Anderson and @Brandon :

The inner large pins are V+ (16.5 VDC). Measuring with no load will give 6.86 VDC; the full 16.5 V is provided to the proper load.

The outer large pins are Ground.

The tiny center pin is a Charge Control pin that assists with changing the LED color, and also assists with switching the adapter off. No power will be output from any of the other pins until contact is made with the center Charge Control pin


(Source : ifixit forum)

  • what does the last sentence mean? that the readings below 1 volt could be ok, since there the control pin has not made any contact? Because from the first point i'd exprect 6.86V
    – Brandon
    May 3, 2016 at 9:08
  • Look @David Anderson's aswer, he explains better how the connector works.
    – Chris
    May 3, 2016 at 9:16
  • @Chris - it isn't clear there either. Does the sense pin need to be connected before the 6V (or 3V for MagSafe 2) initial voltage is present at the power pin? This answer indicates that the sense pin does need to be connected, but the other answer and teardown link isn't clean (and kind of implies "no").
    – BeeOnRope
    Jun 19, 2017 at 20:10
  • 2
    This is incorrect. The center pin does not need to be connected for the charger to output the full voltage. The wire to the adapter body has only two conductors. The center pin allows the computer to read the serial id/number/wattage and turn on/off the green/orange LED, but all the electronics for this are inside the Magsafe connector itself and have no function other than this.
    – istepaniuk
    Apr 29, 2020 at 21:31
  • This is wrong. The center pin is not connected to the power supply. It only tells the Macbook to switch on the charging. Nov 20, 2020 at 22:59

you can touch the cables with your fingers and the resistive load will be applied at the same time with the multimeter. You will get the 16-20V reading. No joke, you will not die from 16V.

  • I measure the resistance between my finger tips, one hand to the other, and it was around 1Mohm which isn't enough. Nov 20, 2020 at 22:56

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