How to unlock any
ThinkPad (TP) using Joe's KeyMaker 8 USB
Recovering or Clearing a Supervisor
Password (SVP) from a TP is fairly straightforward.
Once you know how to avoid all the
TRAPS IBM/Lenovo have set for you the customer.
I know this is all very exciting and you are ready
to start stripping down your TP and jump into it, but WAIT! read all
of this first.
Most people are absolutely certain they have a
Supervisor Password (SVP) set .
There is a chance you may not have a SVP set in
I have exchanged emails with many people who have
gone through all the SVP unlocking thing read the EEPROM, wasted days,
only to discover there is no SVP set at all.
How is that possible, are these people really dumb
The answer is NO, these are all perfectly sane
The real problem is IBM/Lenovo and their warped
sense of humour.
When you really do have strong security, you
challenge people to try and defeat it, you invite peer review to
make sure it is in fact secure.
When you have flimsy pretend security and you
obstinately pretend it is so secure even you cant unlock it, well you
have to get all secretive and vague about everything HOPING people
wont find out, in other words an illusion of strong security where
none really exist, which is what we have here.
Trap number 1, the Hard Disk Password
If at any time you see this Password
That icon with the small number 1 (it
may be a small number 2 or 3 if you have more than one Hard Disk]
means the HDP is set. You will not be able to easily recover or clear
the HDP, KM8 USB will NOT recover or clear HDP.
It will cost you more to clear the HDP
than a new Hard disk is worth.
Clearing a HDP is only worth the
expense and effort if there is valuable data on the Hard disk that
MUST be recovered.
If HDP is set then
remove the Hard Disk [HD] before continuing so that you can determine
which other passwords (IF ANY) you need to recover or clear.
There may not be any other password set!
Ok, you removed the HD and you see yet another
Password Prompt icon.
Trap number 2, the guessing game - is it SVP
or POP -
The trap is that IBM/Lenovo in their wisdom chose to
have THE SAME PASSWORD PROMPT ICON for BOTH SVP and Power on
The password prompt icon pictured
Does NOT define which PASSWORD it is asking you to enter.
It can be either POP or SVP
Only ONE way to find out for sure
which one it is and maybe save a LOT of time.
your TP model
the Hardware Maintenance Manual (HMM) for your TP model
The link above is to the IBM/Lenovo site, if
it doesn't work, don't panic, it isn't broken, their site is shut
down daily for maintenance and at those times they display
spurious messages like the page you requested cannot be found,
wait a good while and try again.
Using the HMM link above, once you select a model
and are on the page that has the PDF HMM for that model, it is best to
right click on the PDF HMM for your model then select Save Target
AS, that way you will have the PDF HMM on your PC to refer to any
time you need it.
Spend the time to read the first part of the HMM
which deals with Cautions some of which like for example Shock Sensors
are very important, you would not want to roughly handle your System
board to find out when you power it up to unlock it that in fact you
have ruined it.
Read the HMM section dealing with Passwords and
become familiar with how to remove Power on Password [POP]
Then follow the instructions for POP Removal
After performing POP Removal if there is no password
prompt icon displayed, you are done, your TP is unlocked.
if you have performed POP Removal and
you continue to see this password prompt icon
It does NOT mean you didn't
perform POP Removal correctly
It means that with POP removed,
you have now absolutely confirmed that you do indeed have a SVP set
and you can now put the time and effort into removing or clearing it.
How to recover or
If you jumped straight in here
without reading the above - STOP - and read the information above
Recovering or Clearing a Supervisor Password (SVP)
from a ThinkPad (TP) always involves these steps.
your TP model.
- Find the location
of the EEPROM connection points and EEPROM Type.
and save the HMM, then follow the HMM to enable you strip
down the TP [without damaging it as you would if you don't
follow the HMM] down to the point you can access that EEPROM
location, depending on the model this could be ONE Screw or a
total strip down.
- Connect 3 leads between the EEPROM's connection
points and KeyMaker 8 USB (KM8)
- Switch on the TP and use the KM8 Menu to select
the EEPROM type which you would have from the EEPROM connection
At the TOP of each EEPROM
LOCATION page you will find a message, for example for
R61 you would see;
R61 R61i EEPROM you treat it as a 24RF08
That is the eeprom type you select at this point from the menu
for your model TP if you are unlocking an R61, check for your
own model and select what that page says is the EEPROM in your
- select the command to Recover or Clear your SVP.
More detail on those 5 steps follows below,
please continue reading
It will lead to this
The connection Points on KM8, VCC - GND - SCL - SDA
Most times we only use GND - SCL - SDA and leave
VCC NOT connected.
When you purchase KM8 you are supplied with 2 leads,
a 4 wire lead and a 6 wire lead.
The 6 wire leads is ONLY used for the 93C46 EEPROM
found in some really really old TPs.
The 4 wire lead is what you will use the most.
Most of the time you will ONLY be using 3 of those 4
In the photo above on the right, the 4 wire lead is
connected onto the I2C header pins
NOTE: The orientation, by convention, much like a car
battery, RED is Positive Voltage, in this case it is called VCC.
Black is Negative or as we will be referring to it as
GND which stands for Ground, in plain English Ground is the negative or
common point in a circuit.
You do NOT connect VCC [the RED lead] unless you are
reading an unsoldered 24xx series EEPROM and I can't see you doing that
very often if at all unless you run a Laptop Repair Shop.
All the EEPROM location pages show 3 connection
- GND which you connect to the BLACK lead above.
- SCL which you connect to the YELLOW lead above.
- SDA which you connect to the WHITE lead above.
Make it a habit of connecting the 4 wire lead as per
above with the RED wire over VCC.
When it comes to making those 3 connections between KM8
and the EEPROM you have the choice of using;
- Clips to make the connections
- Using Sharp Probes, for example multimeter leads
that are skinny and come to a sharp point, they also have an
insulated handle for you to hold without your sweaty hands
interfering with the low power signals on SDA and SCL.
- Solder the thin enamel wire supplied to the EEPROM
pins, don't forget to tape them down just near the solder joint to
relieve tension on the solder joint. NO, you don't run the thin
wires all the way back to the I2C header on the KM8, you only run
the thin wires until they exit the side of the TP then you join it
to the supplied 4 wire cable by soldering a short piece of copper
wired [an off cut from a resistor works well] onto the end of the
enamel wire and poking the short but of copper wire into the 4 lead
Like this, it is a good idea to label the enamel wire
ends to avoid getting them mixed up. Notice the RED wire not being used
Whichever method you chose to make the 3 connections
is up to you, so long as there is a good electrical connection during
any Read or Write operation between the connection points at both the
EEPROM and KM8 I2C ends all is well.
want to unlock your TP and use it again?
It does not get any
easier than this!
Yes, you can easily do it
If you have read all the
preceding information on this page and not simply skipped all that
boring IMPORTANT information, - if you skipped it, go
back and read all of this page above.
You should already
your TP model.
and saved the HMM, then followed the HMM POP removal procedure
to be certain it isn't simply a POP and NOT SVP you are faced with
Having confirmed it is
a SVP, found the location
of the EEPROM connection points and EEPROM Type for your
Followed the HMM to
enable you to strip down the TP [without damaging it as you would
if you don't follow the HMM] down to the point you can access that
EEPROM location, depending on the model this could be ONE Screw or
a total strip down.
Having found the EEPROM
connection point for your TP Model, having decided if you solder wires
or use clips or sharp probes to make the actual connections.
The time has come to
actually make those connections.
method you chose, your KM8x should be switched ON, your Terminal
software should be connected to your KM8x and you should be at the
Main Menu displayed on the screen
If you really really
skipped a lot of preceding information, here is a clue, the Terminal
software runs on a second PC or Laptop, the USB port on that second PC
is connected to KM8x, NOT ON THE LOCKED TP as clearly that is
A quick lesson: IBM and
Lenovo used three different key layouts for country specific
QWERTZ for DE German
AZERTY for FR French
Since some keys are in
different places, the password could be different for each keyboard
if those keys were used.
Use Command 6 first to
select your TP keyboard language.
KM8x REMEMBERS the last
selected Keyboard Language even if switched off.
Pay attention to
Selecting ThinkPad's Keyboard if you are doing different Language
Keyboard Selection Menu
First, you connect the 3
wires (GND, SDA, SCL) from the KM8 I2C header to the EEPROM connection
points on your Password Protected TP.
You can solder the 3
wires, or you can use a clip on each wire, or you can use a clip for
GND and sharp probes for SDA and SCL.
A T60 being
unlocked, using Joe's KeyMaker 7 together with Joe's KeyMaker 7 LCD, the
same principles apply when using KeyMaker 8.
Using two multi
meter leads with sharp points hand held [in one hand] for the SDA and
A black clip is
being used for the GND connection attached to the CPU heat sink.
hand free to operate the Joystick on the KeyMaker 8 LCD board.
Looks easy -
because - it is easy when you have the right tools.
The 3 connections MUST be
made to the correct connection points.
Double check you have not
mixed up the 3 wires.
With some models, you will
have a totally stripped down bare, yet able to be switched on and run
TP for this operation.
In that case make sure the
metal parts of the keyboard cannot come into electrical contact with
any part of the circuitry on the system board you can use paper or
plastic or insulating tape to keep things electrically isolated.
Make sure you do have
attached the CPU heat sink and that the CPU cooling fan is connected
and will operate when the TP is switched on, else you will fry your
On some models it helps if
you open the LCD screen at 90 degrees and stand the TP vertical so one
side of the LCD screen and one side of the Machine are resting on the
table surface, that way you can access the front and back of the TP
after it is switched ON.
If you are using sharp
probes to make the connections then you can wait until the locked TP
has Powered UP and is at a password prompt before making the
connections using your sharp probes.
You have made sure
nothing can 'short out' ?
Switch your TP On using
the Power On button on it's keyboard, of course you do need to connect
some power to it via your TP AC adaptor, else nothing useful will
If you don't hear the
sound of the CPU cooling fan running, switch off and check it before
continuing, normally the fan runs the instant you switch the TP ON, it
may stop in the next few seconds, that's OK, so long as it does run at
start up you know you have not forgotten to connect it during
As soon as you see the
IBM/Lenovo logo displayed - press the ESC key.
Then - press the F1 key.
You should see a message
'Entering Bios setup' or similarly worded message.
Then you should see a
Password prompt icon.
If you see this password
prompt icon with either the number 1 or 2 or 3 etc
means, that like a LOT OF PEOPLE, you are rushing and you completely
skipped the important information at the start of this page, please
switch the TP OFF, and start reading from the top of this page, this
time do NOT skip anything!
You should be seeing
final reminder for those in a huge rush who skip important
information, you did already follow the POP Removal procedure detailed
at the top of this page, YES?
Did you notice that each
page showing the location of the EEPROM connection point for your TP
model, starts off with, for example for R52;
EEPROM you treat it as LSI
That is telling us that
the EEPROM TYPE for an R52 is LSI.
That EEPROM TYPE will be
your first Main menu selection
Go ahead and select your
TP's EEPROM type LSI, 24RF08, 24C01, 24C03 or 93C46 from
the main menu.
Type in the command number
for the EEPROM Type in your TP.
Depending on the EEPROM
Type selected, you will then see either 1 or more Command options.
Fast SVP Recovery is
always the number 1 Command.
Do not press a command button before
the EEPROM connections have been made.
If you are using sharp probes to make
the EEPROM connections, you must now apply them to the EEPROM
connection points for SDA and SCL, you did connect GND earlier,
Now press the command
number for the operation you wish to perform and perform that
If you are using sharp
probes, you do need another person to type the commands for you while
you concentrate on holding the sharp probes so that there is a good
solid electrical connection during the entire operation.
If for example we had
select LSI as the EEPROM type and then selected Command 1 for Fast SVP
Recovery we would see the following screen.
ABCDEFG displayed ready to type in a the password prompt using a
QWERTY English Keyboard
The Supervisor password
The copy of the SVP (CSVP)
which on some older models contains the Hard Disk Password (HDP) can
also be recovered and displayed.
NOTE: on newer
models, Hard Disk Password cannot be recovered from anywhere inside
the TP, the Hard Disk itself internally looks after the HD Password.
RSC The type of
Scan code decoded, in this case R series Scan Code. Will also decode
Normal Scan Codes NSC
Now that you KNOW what
the Supervisor Password is.
Your TP is asking you to
enter the Supervisor Password?
Well now you have it!
You simply type in your
and press the ENTER key.
Your TP is
now unlocked, as a reward, you are greeted by this welcome sign of
an UNLOCKED TP
Now you have
full access to your TP
Time to congratulate
yourself on a job well done.
To permanently remove the
Supervisor Password, follow the instructions for turning off the
password option in the setup.
I would recommend that you
set a new Supervisor Password, one you can remember. If you don't set
one someone else can and you may have to do this all over again, much
easier to set your own password so no one else can set one and
To avoid confusion between
different language keyboards, you can select which Keyboard language
you wish to use to display your recovered passwords, see sample Screen
Shots further down at the foot of this webpage.
If the optional TPM/TCPA Security
(encryption) was enabled, then the SVP cannot be recovered - it isn't a word or
phrase that can be displayed. In that case you would see something like
this instead of your recovered SVP, *BADCS* as per the image below, you
may also see *NVPC**
NOT a problem!
As you can see in the
screen shot above, command 2 lets you Clear SVP.
This will clear ANY
password including the encrypted TPM/TCPA SVP or as some people call
it Reset TCPA.
You press the 2 key, a
message appears asking you if you are ready to Clear SVP, you type Y
A few seconds later
there is no longer an encrypted SVP and TCPA has been reset.
After the Clear
SVP operation is completed, if you press 1 for Fast SVP Recovery
you will see the screen below, see - NO SVP, gone as if it
Switch OFF your TP,
switch it back ON again and it will NOT ask you for a SVP,
as if it never existed.
IF your laptop is set to boot over a Corporate Network then do not
tinker with BIOS setup unless you know the required settings for
your Corporate network.
If you have had to clear
SVP then (subject to the Caution above) you should while in BIOS
setup, SET DEFAULT setting, the F9 key does that, select BOOT and
also set defaults there by using F9.
Then Press F10 to SAVE
those settings, switch the TP OFF and switch it back ON again to
continue using it.
Those last F9, F10 steps
above are VERY IMPORTANT else you may see errors
reported, your TP may not find the Hard Disk to boot from etc.
Another quick lesson;
In the display above *BLANK*
means that there is no SVP set, the * (asterisk) on both sides of a
MESSAGE is used to indicate that the word displayed is not a recovered
Same thing with the
previous screen shot *BADCS*
You may also see *NVPC**
which stands for No Valid Password Characters.
The * character can never
be typed in as a password character on any TP, so it is used on either
side of a useful message when you go looking at the recovered SVP.
KeyMaker 8 USB never
leaves you in any doubt about whether you are seeing a displayed
password or a message telling you it is a non recoverable encrypted
password *BADCS* [which stands for Bad Checksum] or that there
is no SVP set *BLANK*
If you see *BADCS* or
*NVPC** that is usually an indication the the TP has an encrypted TPM/TCPA
passwords set, your obvious option at that point is Clear SVP.
Final quick lesson;
When using KeyMaker 8 USB,
connection leads to the EEPROM inside a TP can be connected whilst the
TP is switched OFF or ON, the leads can be left connected while
the TP is being switched ON and OFF.
If you are new to TP
unlocking you might be thinking - so what! well read on and you
will see what a significant difference that can make.
RS-232 based simple
interfaces when connected to the EEPROM inside a TP impose a
substantial load on the EEPROM's signal lines and if left connected
will interfere with the power on and power off functions of the TP.
Which means that when
using an old RS-232 interface the EEPROM leads must be
disconnected while the TP is powering up, connected to perform a
function then disconnected again before switching the TP OFF.
When using an old RS-232
interface the EEPROM leads can ONLY be connected after the TP has been
switched ON and has completed its power up functions.
KeyMaker 8 USB's EEPROM
connections do NOT have those restrictions because the KeyMaker 8
USB's EEPROM connection points are High Impedance, they do not
load down the signals, therefore they can be left connected at all
times without affecting TP power up or power down.
A lot of TP unlock
operations require that you Power Cycle the TP, in other words
Switch OFF, Switch ON the TP, having to disconnect leads
from the EEPROM and reconnect those EEPROM leads each time the
TP is switched ON or OFF becomes tedious and can lead to mistakes.
Another plus for Joe's KeyMaker 8
I make no warranty that any of my
information is correct, or safe, or does or does not breach any warranty
clause, or anything else, it is up to you to decide if you will
follow all or any of the instructions to recover the Supervisor Password
from a TP. It is up to you to decide, I am not responsible for the
results or for any consequential or incidental damages whatsoever.
If you have any questions, email Joe at