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Problems with MacBook butterfly switch keyboards (theoutline.com)
290 points by nicksergeant on Oct 18, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 286 comments



My work gave me one of the 2016 15" MBPs as my main computer, and the keyboard is horrible.

My V key double-presses about half the time, and the rest of the keys are really hard to press down all the way. Some of the keys make a weird metal rattle when I press them.

Typing on that wretched keyboard for more than an hour or so literally bruises my fingers.

Since I do most of my day-to-day work at a dock with an external keyboard, I'm debating whether it's bad enough that I need to fight with IT and be the one special snowflake with a PC instead. But it's bad enough that I'm seriously considering it.

The more I write about this keyboard, the angrier I get. >:(

And also seriously, fuck the touchbar. Who the hell decided that programmers don't need a functional ESC key or permanent function keys? And who the hell decided that I should have to fumble around and mash my already-bruised finger against a tiny glass icon to change my volume level? Just so Skype can show buttons that mimic the buttons already on the screen?

The user experience of the touchbar is objectively worse and adds no value. Most apps don't even use it, and the ones that do don't use it for anything interesting. And before long I'm sure it'll be playing advertisements at me.


My biggest beaf with the TouchBar: volume takes two clicks! Instead of an up down and mute button, I get mute and volume which then opens a slider to the left of the click. So instead of just clicking once to lower volume I have to click, move my finger and slide. It would be so easy to allow custom button to add back on (and maybe there is that I haven't been able to find?)

I also accidentally 'touch my pinky finger when typing my password (numbers) and it registers as touch even though I'm not applying downward force. In Chrome thank god I could remove the refresh button, would accidentally refresh login pages all the time.


A couple things: you don’t have to click volume and then move to the slider, you can just touch the volume button and begin sliding immediately and it will adjust relative to how you slide. Also, if you go into System Preferences—>Keyboard, you can customize the keys, including adding a dedicated mute button.


When users have to fiddle with settings to do the things they could do before without fiddling, what have you achieved? Apple used to be the UX good guys, now they are the devil in disguise.


You don’t have to fiddle. Just click the default visble one and drag


>>Apple used to be the UX good guys

Apple had one person who was good at UX. And that guy is dead for years now. His product pipeline can't be milked further to make more money.

From here onwards its just your usual managers running the show.


Don Norman may be over 80, but not dead I think ;)


Maybe I'm missing it or my os is not up to date? These are the settings I get, I only see mute and single volume button: https://imgur.com/a/CIgz3


Nevermind comment below showed where to find it, you have to change Touch Bar shows to expanded - which having had this computer for like a year I never found. I'm probably not the most advanced, especially compared to HN users who live in vim like many people here, but still I make a living on my computer and use it 12+ hours a day - feels kind of silly that I'm just now figuring that out (thanks to someone explaining it).


> you don’t have to click volume and then move to the slider, you can just touch the volume button and begin sliding immediately

Woooow, this is a revelation. Thank you!


You can just put your finger on the slider key and slide. No need for tap, let go, slide. It's pretty natural.


A twist on the old if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest riddle: If a hidden gesture exists but nobody knows it, does it really exist?


How is it a hidden gesture? It's literally shown in every marketing video and advertisement since demo day.


And yet somehow you still have someone (who I assume is a poweruser) who doesn't know about its existence.

But to answer your question: It's hidden because it doesn't have a graphic representation on the device itself. Nothing on the volume button indicates that it's somehow a hidden slider.


its as hidden as control-alt-delete.


>>It's literally shown in every marketing video and advertisement since demo day.

The whole point of a good UI is you shouldn't be reading a manual and watching videos to do X, Y and Z.

Apple used to be a pioneer at things like this.

Sad things have come down to this.


You know now.


You can add "Volume Up" and "Volume Down" keys, along with other useful functions, in the initial touchbar view by going to the settings.


I've been wanting to do this for ages, but I can only find the volume slider! Could you tell me how to put Volume Up and Down buttons on there please?


It's hidden weirdly.... go to "Keyboard" prefs pane and "Keyboard" tab (initial one shown when you bring it up.

At "Touch Bar shows".... change that from "App Controls with Control Strip" to "Expanded Control Strip". Then you will see the individual buttons. You can then further "Customize Control Strip..." and you will now see more buttons. But you will also loose "App Control".

Of course, why can't those specific buttons be a customization option there with "App Control with Control Strip" forcing you to choose between volume up/down and "App Control"? Because Apple.


Savior! Thanks. I feel really dumb for not knowing about this, but my ego is going to blame Apple. Just in general feels rushed all over for many many things - this is (was) just my personal biggest gripe!


> But you will also loose "App Control".

For fuck's sake... Thanks for the "upgrade", Apple.


I was having the rogue pinky issue as well. I disabled the app awareness of the touchbar and then added flex space to that area where my pinky would hit. It works great but now the touch bar is useless (which is fine by me).


>Instead of an up down and mute button, I get mute and volume which then opens a slider to the left of the click. So instead of just clicking once to lower volume I have to click, move my finger and slide.

Hah, You couldn't make this stuff up... GUIs were borne out of a hatred of highly context based keyboard behaviour (VI, Xerox Parc), now Apple go full circle and revert to context hell by combining a keyboard with a touchscreen GUI. Goodbye Apple, it was nice knowing you.


Read the other comments here and try it out for yourself. The single volume button is a slider itself. You don't have to touch twice.

This same UI is found on other touch screens including my Honda's dashboard.


aaaaaandd as usual the inevitable fan boy down votes ensue.


It's really just an accident of history, not intentional on Apple's part, that Macs became popular with developers. In an alternate universe Jobs isn't kicked out of Apple, doesn't develop NeXT based on Unix, and Apple continues merrily snubbing developers and not accidentally attracting them the way they did. In this alternate universe I believe more energy and funding would have been directed at Linux and it would be a stronger desktop platform.


Agreed.

What do you think is the best Linux desktop distro these days?

For hardware it seems like the higher-end Dells are the winners. I have a co-worker with one (runs Windows) and the hardware is excellent. He has some issues with the TPM and firmware but it seems like stuff that would not be a big problem in Linux.


For me the most interesting distros are vanilla binary rolling-release ones, which ship all stuff from upstream unchanged. I love Arch, but Slackware and a few others are interesting too.

These make it easy to set up a simple system with few moving parts, which is fast and doesn't break. I just a tiling window manager (xmonad), a terminal (urxvt), a browser (firefox with vimperator) and emacs.

And Nix-style ones, NixOS and GuixSD, are the future. Declarative system configuration and package definitions. Non-destructive changes.

In terms of laptops, I'm really fond of Xiaomi Air 12 M3. Fanless, really good quality, cheap and all stock Intel components. So it just works.


I have Arch with Gnome on the 4K HP Spectre x360 13 inch, and everything basically just works. Even mixed-DPI with a standard HD monitor.


I got a cheezy second hand Lenovo Y40 from Craigslist for about $200 and put Debian on it. Not even close to top of the line but it works great for my development needs.


> Who the hell decided that programmers don't need a functional ESC key or permanent function keys?

a) I'm a developer, I do not use traditional function keys and would much rather have media keys, etc.

b) This laptop is not just for programmers. It is designed for many people, many of whom could benefit significantly (applications in video/music editing look very useful).


> a) I'm a developer, I do not use traditional function keys and would much rather have media keys, etc.

Function keys also served as media keys.


True, but the touchbar is much better at that specific role. It also opens up different forms of interaction for other applications.

The terminal, for instance, has an instant man page key. This is kind of cool. A tiling window manager could have window management special keys. I have a very nice keyboard on my desk at home with, a glorious Unicomp PC122 with 24 function keys. I love it, but I need to confess I never used that many function keys. Ever.


The touchbar is worse imo. The problem is the lack of tactile feedback, plus unwanted "keypresses" when your fingers wander over it.

If they would have just placed the touchbar above the old row of ESC and Function keys, it could have been good. Now it is just shit.


It's a mystery to me why they didn't do this, at least on the 15" Macbook. Instead they made the already-plenty-big-enough touchpad even larger. A secondary screen / input control above the full keyboard would be awesome. It'd be a great way to get notifications (tests passed, build finished, sports scores, whatever...) or have ad-hoc controls.


RE: Lack of haptic feedback - There's an app for that - https://www.haptictouchbar.com/ It's not great (that the feedback is in the touchpad and not the touchbar is disconcerting), but it's better than no feedback.


> The terminal, for instance, has an instant man page key.

So, F1 on Windows basically?

It seems to me that a lot of advantages mentioned by folks on the touchbar are born of Apple’s refusal to actually use the Fn keys as shortcut keys, unlike on Windows.


Not quite, because F1 meaning help is entirely a convention. Much like :q! is quit or C-x C-f is open file and Meta is the alt/option key.

That's one of the reasons I use the F-keys on the PC122 so little - it's hard to remember what I made them do.


By default, even! There's a config option now, but it used to be that you needed KeyRemap4Macbook to change that.


> Who the hell decided that programmers don't need a functional ESC key or permanent function keys?

I'm still amazed that there are programmers that complain about this. As a programmer, I've avoided ESC and the function keys for years before the touchbar came out.

Apple has even had a built-in option in Mac OS to remap ESC to Caps Lock, for quite a while now. And considering how conservative Apple is when it comes to adding options, I think that says that I'm not alone.

The ESC/function key row is not suitable for ergonomic typing. It's simply to far away from home row. If that area is suitable for anything at all, it's for rare context-sensitive operations, so I think Apples idea was absolutely rational. Wether it's worth the cost is different discussion (for me, probably not).

The culture around keyboards is super weird if you ask me. You have whole subcultures around a near irrelevant thing like key-travel and mechanical switches (though I must admit there is a visceral satisfaction to clicking a really clicky keyswitch), yet people still stick to qwerty and typewriter-based physical layout. ErgoDox seems to be growing in popularity, so it might be changing.


>I'm still amazed that there are programmers that complain about this.

You shouldn't be. Not sure about Mac. But all the big IDEs - MS Visual Studio, all the JetBrains products, Eclipse, Netbeans, etc use function keys in their default key bindings.

True, functionkey row is not suitable for ergonomic typing, BUT it is not used for ergonomic typing. It's used for... well special functions!


I think that’s actually the key difference here - OS X apps very rarely make use of the function keys, instead preferring Cmd-letter combos (which to my mind possibly make a bit more sense as you can remember e.g. R means Refresh). That means that doing away with the function keys is probably a much smaller deal for Mac users than Windows users, as on the Mac they were pretty much just used as media keys anyway.


Key travel and key response is far more than a near irrelevant thing for folks with RSI. Some people can literally cure RSI with the right keyboard that encourages the right typing habits.

Maybe it is a small enough percentage of the population that it doesn't matter, but this is hacker news and we care a about a lot of strange and esoteric things here that only a small percentage of the population care about anyway. If Dell can make a 15" laptop with a full number pad Apple can find a way to have a less shitty keyboard with an escape key and maybe don't force the touch bar on everyone. It doesn't have to be a popular consumer option. You can hide it in an esoteric out of the way place for us esoteric out of the way users, but... it is ridiculous to ignore the hard core tech fan base and keyboard issues.


Debugging? Xcode defaults to F6/F7/F8 for step over/in/out. Many IDEs do something similar.

The alternative is to map some key combination, but it's much easier to be able to hit one key instead of Ctrl-something.


yes I agree. I don't know how hardware teams with such a stellar track record as Apple have can make such awful decisions. The first time I used the new keyboard I thought that it was broken in some way (how is a shorter key travel a better thing?), and the touch bar is just stupid. I've seen people use them and the awkward way they have to stop what they're looking doing, orient themselves with the silly little screen and press a button is just beyond stupid.

I'll go out of my way to buy an old mac before I spend money on these stupid new machines.


I love the short throw keys. Obviously everyone has their own personal preferences. I feel like my fingers are dancing across the new keyboard. Initially I disliked the size of the keys, but now when I go back to an older keyboard I realize I even prefer those. (Edit: I still dislike the arrow keys, those suck).

Apple’s big problem is that they cater to everyone with a single offering. And since the keyboards are cut into the metal casing of the laptop, it would probably be expensive to offer an option here (though they probably should). So they make a decision, piss off some, make others happy. This is where PCs have an advantage, as you have more choice.


Expensive, for a company with a ridiculous cash stockpile. I think many users would trade a touchbar in for a better keyboard and a slightly heavier laptop (acknowledging you won't be able to get a laptop as thin with a different type of key). This is a really important issue for a pretty significant chunk of their core tech audience. If Dell can manage the complexity of their product line and all the options they have, then Apple can budge a little on the mono-design of their laptop product lines. I get it on phones and they already proliferated their phone options too much IMO, but laptops, especially since you can put that out of the way as a custom order on the web site for people that really care, just seems like an obvious thing. That or figure out how to make everyone happy.


The answer is simple. They no longer had someone that would tell them "No, redo it."

It's also why we have a notch on the iPhone X.


The notch is extremely ugly and unApple. Its seriously messed up.

When Steve Jobs passed on, I read a blog post by someone saying (in response to a bad, pretentious ad from Apple targeting Samsung, the one which had a condescending tone belitttling Samsung users rather than showing what the iPhone has) that it would take years before Apple screwed up its product line, but only about a year or so until they screw their advertising. I guess they have started messing their product line.


Literally every mouse Apple ever did since....1998? was not something I'd ever use. Didn't like the external keyboards the gave me either but they were less awful. If there's any aspect ever that still having Steve Jobs around would not help in it's the input devices. Though the touch pads on laptops are still the best in their class.


> Who the hell decided that programmers don't need a functional ESC key or permanent function keys?

Steve Jobs.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/841771

The original Macintosh didn't have them either, or Control.


I have a 2017 MBP 15 with touch bar and love it. Granted it's newer, so I haven't had any key problems yet, but the keyboard is one of my favorite of all time. (I normally use a CODE keyboard with clear switches at work.) I also really like the touch bar. I've spent some time using BetterTouchTool to customize it, and it has definitely been helpful. The escape key is always there and you don't have to specifically hit it, as the space to the left of the key also functions as escape. For other function keys, they show up when you press the Fn key, which is how I had my old MBP setup anyway. You can also set it so that they always show up instead of the "normal" touch bar functionality.

Not saying you're wrong, just giving my feedback. I'm definitely not a fanboy by any means. I used a mint linux setup for the last year before switching back to mac, and wouldn't touch an iPhone with a 10ft pole. :)


I think cursor is the worst. why not cut off shift and do up and down proper keys.


The up/down keys are the only issue I have with the new keyboard. I routinely manage to hit it wrong and the cursor doesn’t move. The rest of it I actually like, including the touchbar.


Cursor keys were quite a switch from the trusty old MBA. The layout is a bit different (left/right are full size keys instead of half height) and the keys are so flush with the enclosure that it was just much harder to find them "blind".

Though, having had the MBP now for nearly a year, it's not an issue anymore.


About half the macs at work have been upgraded to touchbar models.

Mine hasn’t, but I’ve noticed the touchbar screen freaks out when lots of crap scrolls by in terminal. I’d be tempted to electric tape over mine if I had one. Instead, the common case for coworkers is to keep the old one for WFH, dock the new one at desks, and cope with terrible keyboards during meetings.

We have an open floor plan, so that would break my “hide in a random room to concentrate on stuff” workflow.

I’ve seen die-hard laptop screen users take 17” macs to coffee shops, and lay an external keyboards on top of the now irreparable built-in one.

Maybe that’s the right way forward for people that still want keyboards.


After owning one since January, I really don't notice the touchbar. However, I spend most of my time docked with an external keyboard - I've used a Das Keyboard (blues at work, browns at home) and the new Magic Keyboard with 10-key (which has same mechanism as laptop but a little more key travel IMO)


> Who the hell decided that programmers don't need a functional ESC key or permanent function keys?

I find functional keys nice, but not necessary. I also just remapped ESC to capslock since I never use capslock anyway.


My years on a Sun keyboard spoiled me, so I remap backquote to escape (much more easily reachable than now-standard Escape location). Also Capslock to control and swap backspace and backslash. Everything I use more frequently is closer in. :)


I have capslock as control. My work computer has the ESC key, but it's out of reach. My ipad keyboard has no escape, so I've been training myself to use ctrl-[. Works ok, I don't really notice the difference anymore.


They definitely should have offered the touch bar as an option, so people who wanted it could have it and the rest could have normal function keys!


What you are describing is a broken or dirty keyboard. First of all, the new MBP requires compressed air for cleaning under the keys. If that doesn't work, they will repair it under warranty.


When people are taking your latest model into your store to figure out wtf is going wrong with it, in much greater numbers than the previous model, you've created a broken design.


I have seen absolutely filthy "old" MBP keyboards that worked just fine. It's a laptop, I should be able to use it without having to treat it like a delicate snowflake. Whatever happened to building quality hardware?


We voted with our money that we didn't give a damn about quality hardware or software.


Ehhh, we voted with our money that we trusted Apple. Their hardware design has been quality until the new keyboard.

This ignores whether you want more ports or faster processors, of course.


IMHO the hardware has been shit since the AMD disaster.


if a keyboard requires compressed air cleaning to function, that sounds like a design defect to me.

I've used PC keyboards for ~25 years now and I've never had one that would break if not treated ...


About the ESC key - if you're using vim you should be remapping it to caps lock. If you rather not remap, you can always just hit ctrl [ (and this works out of the box).

I've been doing this for so long its natural to me even on a keyboard with an actual escape key.


I’m a heavy VIM user and I’ve never once had a problem hitting the ESC key on the touchbar. Yes, it doesn’t have same tactile feel, but it’s an ESC key and is a known distance and angle away, so I’m fine.


If you're talking about escaping a non-normal mode, control+c should always work just fine.


I completely identify with your anger


There is a functional Escape key. It's right there in the top left corner. I use it hundreds of times a day. It's definitely not as nice as a dedicated key but you get used to it.

And if you want permanent function keys then just go to the Keyboard control panel and enable it.


This is subjective; I don't agree, I need tactile feedback so the ESC key is no more. Like many others, I have disabled the magic bar as much as I could because it occasionally got triggered if I just glanced a finger off of it accidentally.

As an emacs user, I do the following on this box:

[CAPSLOCK] -> CTRL [LEFT CTRL] -> ESC (just like an old HP 9000 workstation keyboard lol)

The above works for me.

While the keyboard is bad on this $4000 laptop; I do love the performance, battery life, and the screen. I would never buy another one though. I suspect I will be on my 2nd key replacement any day now.


stop making excuses for Apple's dumb decisions. With physical buttons I can find a key by feel just by running my fingers across the top row. Good luck accurately hitting any button on that stupid little touch screen.


> stop making excuses for Apple's dumb decisions.

This breaks the HN guidelines by being uncivil as well as uncharitable in the sense requested here: "Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize."

Your comment would be fine without that first bit. Would you mind reading https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and following the guidelines when commenting here?


still it adds that small something to the comment. we humans adapt to things, we try to make excuses for our (and our friend's) errors. we try to come up with solutions.

that unpolite remark underlines the issue pretty well: one one side there is a solution, on the other side there is a poor implemented idea


Sure, but the unpoliteness was gratuitous and damages the container. You can drive to an interesting place without scratching the car.


The touch bar finally forced me to remap Caps Lock to Escape. It's much easier to hit on my computer (just don't ask me to use yours).


Personally I map caps to control because it makes all my text navigation easier (ctrl + a, ctrl + e, ctrl + shift + enter, etc).

Plus side: less RSI-feelings in my left wrist. Down side: muscle memory makes you look incompetent on other machines.


The Escape key is always in the same position (top left).

I always hit it with 100% accuracy just like I did on my previous MacBook.

And I am not making excuses for Apple. I think they should've made Escape key in particular a physical key.


Or, you know, use the keyboard layout that everyone has become accustomed to, instead of coming up with a special-snowflake input device that is a gimmick.

These new Macbooks are the Wii U's of laptops.


No right now in the top left corner of my touchbar is an (X) key, the esc key is to the right of it.


My understanding is that even though by default there is some (inexplicable) space left of the escape key on the touchbar, that space still functions as the escape key.


In my case I actually had a completely separate, non-esc button to the left of esc. Screenshot: https://i.imgur.com/InvBvqa.png

I'm not sure exactly when it happens, but I think it happens when you have some background context open on the touchbar (like some app's music controls). The X dismisses the bar you have open and then you get esc back. Often there's no esc at all and just the X.


That sounds terrible. Dismiss the window before you can escape??


Based on the title I assumed that this person was going to be complaining about joint damage due to the low key travel. This keyboard on my 12" MacBook is so bad that between having to get the top case replaced to fix broken keys (when as stated in the article, careful blowing didn't work and trying to replace the keys caused them to break) and my fingers feeing like they have aged many years from the poor ergonomics of no key travel (something I am extremely pissed about) I have mostly just stopped using a laptop: even when using this computer it is now docked at my home with an external monitor and a real keyboard. You have to understand that I am someone who hates desktop computers and has been using the 11" MacBook Air since the moment it came out as a replacement to an HP Mini... I love small computers, but this one is trash. I have it on my todo list to move back to my now-repaired 11" Air, but the thought of having to do that much data movement is demoralizing, particularly as I have grown accustomed to the high-resolution screen. I am not sure what to do as I just can't understand how Apple thinks these keyboards are reasonable... it just seems so obvious that this is dumb.


Your story resonated with me because I had the same experiences with a 12” MacBook.

While I can’t really use you as an example, since you kind of need a Mac for a lot of the work you do specifically, I’ve heard the same complaints about Apple hardware from other long-time Mac users that don’t actually need to have a Mac.

I am curious how many of those of us that don’t need macOS day to day have voted with their wallet away from Apple’s pro line, and what they switched to. I still use a mid-2014 MacBook Pro at work, but at home when it was time to upgrade I took the same path you did and went for the 12” MacBook. It sucked in every way.

Now I’m the owner of a Dell XPS, the supposed most Mac-like PC, and I’m simply stuck with another set of problems: it’s developed a great amount of coil whine, thermal management is spotty to say the least, and the sound card drivers have to be reinstalled every few reboots else it will not detect when I have plugged or unplugged headphones, which has me carrying around a USB DAC. When I need macOS, I’m still running High Sierra on a quad-core Mac Mini server from 2011.

The sad thing is that I don’t think there is a good option at this point. All of the “alternatives” to the MacBook contain their own faults.


Also migrated to a Dell XPS 15 as new Macs stopped exciting me.

No coil whine in mine, but it was hell finding just the right bios version so sleep would work. And if you don't use a specific Intel you driver version you get screen flicker. Le sigh.


Hey, but at least your computer is exciting now, right?


For all it's faults, the MacBook Pro is still the best computer for what I do, as someone who doesn't have to use a Mac. macOS being a big factor in favor of it.


Sure, I also bought the MBP, but for the first time in a decade I bought an Apple product grudgingly, getting it not because it's the best machine at a reasonable price, but because switching would be too expensive.

The MacBook Air was a great little nifty machine, powerful enough for my (modest) needs. The MBP is expensive (even the "cheap" "Escape key" edition) with a finicky keyboard and 3h battery life if you actually use the CPU.


I was very jealous reading about the announcement of the Surface Book 2 yesterday. I suspect it will be the ultimate as far as Windows laptops are concerned.

Sadly, iOS development is part of my work, so I'm stuck with Apple. I'm dreading the next laptop 'upgrade' I get.


I did the same as you and migrated away. I was looking at the XPS and ended up going with the Razer Blade Stealth. What's actually surprised me most is how much I enjoy having a touch screen. I could see checking out the new surface pro 2 at some point now.

The other huge thing that surprised me was how easy development is becoming with the new Windows Linux Subsystem. The only thing i haven't gotten to play nicely with it is Postgres, but I just set it up in windows and have the wls connect to it and I'm on my way.


I switched to an Asus UX305 with Ubuntu a couple years ago for the matte screen and the fact that it has no fans. No complaints so far.


That's the thing, even if I wanted to there is nowhere to go to but Apple, the closest I've seen is a Dell XPS or one of the MS Surface models, but they seem to have there own problems, not to mention I heavily use the Mac trackpad and the gestures, which I've yet to see so well done on a Windows laptop :(


I am quite fond of the mobile workstations from Titan. They are a bit heftier, but I'm okay with that. You can customize them into real beasts.


I am going to give the Dell Precision 7520 a whirl. Xeon processor. ECC RAM. No mic/camera. Full size keyboard. Decent discrete graphics. Comes with Ubuntu.


If you're damaging your keys and hurting your fingers, you may be typing too hard for the keyboard. I'm not suggesting that that's your fault, just that there may be a mismatch between your preferred typing style and Apple's. I looked at the 12" Macbook when they first came out and was attracted by the small form factor but completely turned off by the keyboard's almost non-existent key travel. I much preferred the heavy, mechanical switches on my Das Keyboard on my Windows desktop. But ... my Windows machine died, and I switched to a Mac Mini with a bluetooth keyboard for a few months. When I returned to my Das Keyboard, I found I didn't like it as much. My typing speed was much faster on the Apple bluetooth keyboard, partly due to the lighter touch required. I now prefer typing with a lighter touch, and eventually picked up a Macbook and love it. I'd still prefer a bit more key travel, but I'm okay with the tradeoff for the form factor.

TL;DR - Macbook keyboards require a light touch, which may not suit your personal style.


"You're typing it wrong"


Um, yes. Typing is a skill; they even have classes in it. You certainly should never be pressing hard enough to cause pain.


False. We have just demonstrated that two different keyboards have two completely different responses to the same level of force.

If Apple replaced keyboard keytops with sandpaper and people complained of bleeding, raw fingers, would you still say that it's the user's fault for "typing too hard"?

Or maybe, just maybe... that they screwed up a miniaturization attempt.


It's possible for it to be a hardware design error and user error. Or just an impedance mismatch between a particular piece of hardware and a particular user.

I agree that the new Macbook keyboards aren't for everyone. Some people, like my girlfriend take to them right away. Others will never adjust. And that's fine. You don't like it? Don't use it. Return it for something else.

But I think there's a large middle ground of people who could happily use the new keyboards by adjusting their typing style. Doesn't mean they were typing wrong before. But if, like me, they're coming from heavy mechanical keyboards, they will need to adjust their style to be comfortable with Apple's keyboards.

People have experience similar challenges transitioning between manual and electric typewriters. And between pianos and MIDI keyboards with unweighted keys.


I encourage you to spend time with a pianist. Your comparison is not supporting the point I think you're trying to make.

I encourage you to differentiate between someone who diddles the keys for 10 minutes once a week vs. someone who dedicates 90+ hrs per week and whose livelyhood depends on quality and precision of the tools they use.

If it's consumer trash then take it to windows-craptop land. I thought Apple made rugged, performant, premium machines, but it's looking more and more like they're a fashion company.

Otherwise if you're advocating for "consumer choice" then point me to the legal hackintosh laptop market where I can get a better integrated keyboard?


Dude, you can "encourage" me all you want, but I'd understand you better if you simply made your point directly.

Midi keyboards with unweighted keys aren't "consumer trash." Their are plenty of professional musicians who use them on a daily basis. They are merely different from pianos with weighted keys, which require more force to play. Some prefer one, some the other. It's largely a matter of which you were exposed to first.


The solution seems clear to me: you don't need to stop using laptops, you need to switch to another brand. There are plenty of laptops (or notebooks or whatever you prefer to call the things) with keyboards which work by manufacturers who put function over form instead of the other way around. The only snag you might hit is if you're stuck - emotionally or otherwise - to a given operating system but even that is solvable, albeit slightly hackish.

The essence of the thing is that Apple only looks at its bottom line so that bottom line is the only way you have to influence their behaviour. Don't like what they sell? Don't buy it, get something else.


The problem is the OS. Apple hasn't entirely screwed up macOS yet (give them time). It is still better than Windows and Linux in my opinion.

The hardware decline brings them closer to even with other laptops, all things considered, but I suspect many people prefer macOS enough to still stomach the bad hardware.


Plus the trackpad. Everyone's still playing catch-up on that. Mac laptops are the only ones I've ever used for which I don't halt all work immediately until I can find a mouse, if I'm doing something that'll take more than ~5min. This makes it the only line of laptops I know that are actually usable as self-contained devices (that is, for their intended purpose)


Don't you think you're going to far when you "halt all work immediately until [you] can find a mouse" when using anything but an Apple-branded device? That actually sounds like the human-interface-device equivalent of the audiophile attitude.

I mostly use Thinkpads which are known for having good keyboards. While I do prefer the keyboards on these machines over those on the others spread around the place I don't "halt all work until I find an IBM M1" when dealing with other machines, not even when dealing with those modern chiclet-inspired monstrosities. I might grumble a bit, miss a key here and there and wonder what the designers were thinking but those keyboards do get the job done. The same goes for touchpads, some are better than others but most of them work.


Glass touchpad with multi-touch is infinitely better than synaptics plastic trash with "somewhere on the right side we'll pretend there's a scroll bar".


Nearly all touchpads support multi-touch, this includes Synaptics "plastic trash". You just need to enable things like two-finger scroll and three-finger-click (etc). If you're using an older version of Windows you might need to update the driver, those who use Linux generally get this out of the "box" and can just enable the required options.

Having both two-finger-scroll and side-scroll enabled is possible and quite handy for those occasions you can't use or don't feel like using two fingers, e.g. when you're holding a hot soldering iron in one hand and a collection of parts in the other - just scroll using a knuckle.


How many hours have you logged on an Apple touchpad in the past 5 years or so?

What you say is technically correct, but you can enable all those things and Synaptics still is miles behind Apple in accuracy, comfort, additional possible gestures (I use "pinch" "four finger up" and "get outta here" gestures frequently).

Sometimes the Synaptics just doesn't recognize what I'm doing with simple two-finger scroll. That literally never happens with Apple hardware.


More than a thousand I'd guess, why do you ask? I use a 'magic touchpad' (first generation, a bit of a battery eater) with some stationary machines. The thing works, sure. It is rather big which - in my opinion - is not all positive. The clickpad-function can sometimes be handy but one annoying thing about it is the fact that it takes more force to click on the back side than the front, this due to the way they implemented this function. Touch gestures are not really my thing as I tend to use the keyboard for those things reached throgh gestures - maybe I need to add that I use a tiling window manager?


But the precision and comfort of tracking between the "plastic textured" pad v. the etched glass top that macs use is light years apart, even if it's possible to spend an hour and tweak the plastic one to have the same functions and behaviour.


I'm really sad because I really like Apple hardware. I would still get the newest line of MBP even if I hate the keys because it'll still be lightyears ahead in terms of hardware sturdiness and feel.

I bought a XPS 15" since I didn't want to dish out for a new Macbook. It's running Elementary OS. I like it well enough, but it has a lot of trouble handling HiDPI that requires constant tweaking.


My experience is eerily similar. I bought the 11" Air the second it came out but gave it away after purchasing the 12" MacBook. Talk about buyer's remorse.


I also have a second gen 12" Macbook. It has by far the worst and most dangerous (!) keyboard I've ever used on a laptop. I loved the form factor and tried as hard I could for months (!) to find a way to type on those keys without it significantly hurting my hands but failed. I now also always use a physical mechanical external keyboard instead. The keyboard surprisingly turns out to probably be the biggest drawback of that computer (I didn't expect the keyboard of all things to be such a big problem on a mac).

I've been a loyal mac laptop user for over a decade, but definitely my next laptop purchase won't be a mac...


I use my company one in a dock. The OS drives me nuts. It seems like the whole thing resolves around the touch pad. I don't have a track pad on the keyboard and it makes the OS so much worse then it already is.


The new MBPs are such a mixed bag for me.. I got one at work, while I still use a 2012 MBP, and I go back and forth on some things....

1) New keyboard took a while to get used to, and it does seem like they are a little finicky. After a while, I've gotten used to the feel of it and actually prefer it for the most part. The arrow keys are really hard to use, though..

I do hate that it is such an expensive/involved thing to replace the keyboard.

2) The enlarged trackpad is kinda nice sometimes, but really hard to use other times.. The way I rest my hands on my laptop when I'm using it while sitting back or lying down always results in mis-clicks and other problems with the new trackpad. I'd rather have the smaller-sized one, but I realize others may not have the same problems I do.

3) TouchID is really handy, but the TouchBar is an unfortunate gimmick. I keep trying to find good uses for it, but it mostly ends up being kinda useless - anything I can do with it, I could do before with less work. I hope it goes away, or at least becomes an optional thing in the future.

Overall, while it is nice to have a laptop that is smaller/lighter, the way Apple is sacrificing all sorts of other stuff (performance, repairability) to minimize size/weight sometimes feels wrong for what it supposed to be a professional series laptop.


Use BetterTouchTool for the Touch Bar.

It allows you to customise it for each application and assign your own buttons based on menu items, scripts etc. For development it is amazing. I have dedicated buttons for Build, Run, Debug, Stop, Step Into and Step Over. For terminal I can adjust terminal profiles with one button.

Also blame Intel more than Apple for performance issues.


> For development it is amazing. I have dedicated buttons for Build, Run, Debug, Stop, Step Into and Step Over

I have these in IntelliJ as standard key combos (some being Fn keys). All of these I can touch type. I can't see how this would be improved by having to look down at the mini-screen at the top of the keyboard.


You can use it for things wouldn't normally remember or that require arcane key commands.

Two buttons I use are to Expand/Collapse All Code Folds.


You can always remap arcane key commands to an F key, for example.

And if it’s a rarely used key then why would you put it on a premium area and not simply access it from the menu bar anyways?

And using Visual studio I already use F keys for run/build/pause/debug/step into/out/over and furthermore even get tactical feedback.

How does the touchbar improve on any of that?

One way I could see the touch bar being useful would be if it displayed functionality from the non foreground apps (so for example if I have safari open, it allowed me to execute a command on terminal in the background without needing to bring terminal to the foreground, much like how music controls work). But from what I understand, this is explicitly prohibited. Does BTT allow for such behavior?


I think the main point is that you could just map those to function keys.

I think I've only seen one main use that works well with the bar, and that's scrubbing through video or audio.


But you have to remember what the function keys do, so you are ignoring the primary point of the touch bar.


If it’s something you use so infrequently why not have it on the screen in a toolbar instead, so you still don’t have to remember which key it is, and you don’t need to move your gaze away from what you were already looking at.

The touchbar has used, but from what I can tell, all those uses are better solved by existing non touchbar techniques already.

Toolbars for infrequently user functions you won’t remember the shortcut for (better because they hold more and don’t require you to change the screen you’re looking at, and you can keep your hands on the touchpad/mouse as before).

Fn keys (or combo keys) for frequently used shortcuts that you would remember as they ass tactile feedback and are much more conducive to touch typing.

The trackpad for actual scrubbing like functions.

Where I can see the touchbar being useful are infrequently used global functions, but I believe these are the ones Apple explicitly prevents developers from building (and unsurprisingly the inbuilt global ones from Apple are the most popular feature of the touchbar, such as volume controls and music playback controls).


Most developer tools (which is the context that comes to mind for me) have some sort of quick lookup for unfamiliar functions (eg. Sublime Text's command palette, IntelliJ 'find action by name' etc etc). These facilities don't require you to look away from the screen, and give access to far more commands than the touch bar. Anything used often enough to be worth mapping you can remember within a day or so of use, so it seems like a tiny gain for losing one whole row of touch-typeable keys.


Yes I can see that being useful. The cost (losing touch typing on the Fn keys) would be far too high for me.


Fair point, re: Intel.

I will have to check out that tool, sounds like it could be useful.

I guess, though, this highlights part of why it feels so gimmicky. I, like a lot of people using MacBook Pros, spend about 60% of my time on my work laptop docked with external monitors, keyboard, and mouse. Since there are no external keyboards with a TouchBar available, I now have two very different experiences when I'm docked vs undocked.

I'm sure I could use something to create virtual function keys and get back the original functionality and have a roughly similar experience to when I'm using an external keyboard, but then I'm paying extra money for that hardware and losing tactile feedback.


I've always assumed that if Apple was really serious about the TouchBar they would have created an external keyboard with it.


+1 BetterTouchTool. I have buttons for a "visor" style terminal prompt, OnePassword everywhere, web and mobile inspector tools, love it all. Would hate to give up the Touch Bar now that I've finally made it useful.

Which is kind of the key — Apple didn't build in enough functionality out-of-the-box for users to make it useful. They left it to developers, and developers dropped the ball.

All of this is a separate issue from the keyboard issues. My "F" key has all but popped off. That has nothing to do with the Touch Bar.


Command B, Command R, Command R, Command Period, F7, ^F6.

I can hit most of these (except the function key shortcuts) by feel 100% of the time. I cannot hit any touch bar targets by feel, with the exception of the Escape key.


I too have found this keyboard it to be a disaster. I made the mistake of buying two MacBooks as soon as the first 12" model was released, one for me and one for my wife, and my wife's keyboard had so many problems we took it in to Apple. All they could do was offered to swap out the keyboard for a mere $400. My wife refused, and the problem mysteriously solved itself.

Meanwhile, mine "works", but the short key travel makes touch typing next to impossible even after two years of use. I have just purchased an inexpensive windows computer from a Lenovo and I'm trying to get accustomed to Windows 10 so I have a workable keyboard. This is a big deal because I am deep into Apples ecosystem and lock-in.

I do not want to switch but I type all day and I can't bear to buy another Macintosh because the keywords have all gone this way. I am however considering purchasing a new old stock MacBook Air.


FWIW, I've had intermittent problems with one or the other key on the MBP keyboard, but as you said, after a while they went away. Maybe I ground down that damn speck of dust.


Where's a good place to find new old stock MacBooks?


I've always had good results with Apple's refurbished devices.


I have the 2016 MBP, and have been using it extensively in third world conditions this year. The keyboard has been so good that I didn't even notice it. What I do notice is having to limit myself to the 15 inch display vs the two 40" 4k displays I have at home. The machine supports four, and I would buy a third 4k display (This time UHD) if I could figure out a desk arrangement that supports all three and still keep the MBP in easy reach.

I love my MBP. The flash storage was a little more expensive than I wanted, and I'm going to wait an extra year to upgrade.

Anyway. this isn't a product story- the keyboard is fine.

This is a service story-- Apple should have fixed his right the first time.

PS- Touch Bar is great.


I'm not sure what to make of your post.

Are you trying to argue that your personal lack of experiencing a component failure means the component's fleet-wide failure rate is acceptable?

Or are you just saying you like your computer, and tossed in a flippant assumption that you don't really stand behind?


Yep, I have the 2013 15” rMBP and the 2016 15” rMBP.

Much prefer the keyboard on the 2016 model.

Just two gripes:

- keyboard is noisy as hell, very noticeable in conference calls

- trackpad is way too big, it’s hard to find a resting position. six months in i still accidentally touch it when not meaning to.


Yeah, I like the touchbar, but yeah was a little disappointed in how loud the keyboard and even the trackpad, coming from a 2015 MBP.


We had a candidate come in for interviews, and one of them was a video-conference programming session with a remote interviewer. We set them up with a Macbook (running Windows/Bootcamp) for live-coding.

The candidate hit the Power button, located where DEL used to be. Laptop goes to sleep (candidate said it shut down but it probably just went to sleep). He gets it back up but then it needs a login etc., so he had to go find us non-remote staff to log back in, join VPN etc. Took about 5 minutes out of the interview, partly due to confusion + logging back into the things.

I can't for the life of me understand why so many vendors have put this button on the keyboard. It was so simple and sensible to have it somewhere else.

Edited: Macbook running Windows, probably just went to sleep but disruptive nonetheless, combination of hardware+software to blame.


Nothing about this makes much sense - regardless of which generation macbook you're using hitting the power button accidentally will not turn it off (you can try it right now). Did your interviewee keep pressing on it for like 10 seconds?


Indeed, I'm not even sure that aside from intentionally editing the PowerManagement.plist that you can do this. On my Macbook Air, you have to hold in the power button for a short period to produce the Sleep/Restert/Shutdown pop-up, and the default is cancel, I believe. Apple's own page on the matter says it requires a 1.5 second hold to produce. [0]

I appreciate your over-all sentiment that when the default behavior for power buttons was to take action, but my expectation now is that bumping the power button should ask you what to do, not do something. I'm still surprised that many Windows based laptops have a default action mapped to the power button regardless of the placement of the button, as interrupting the state of the machine just seems like something you'd want a confirmation on - aside from a few outlier "oh crap no one can see this" moments, I'm not sure why you'd need the quick bump to initiate shutdown or any action from the power button at all. Even in the above situation, a shutdown is far slower most times than just a hard shutdown.

Edit: Seeing your follow up, I feel that you should really update your original post to mention that it was running Windows via Bootcamp. macOS and Windows respond very differently to a power button press, and Windows' default is to take a sleep, hibernate, or shutdown action, and at least on our Server 2016 images, the default behavior is to initiate a shutdown. This isn't OS X behavior, it's Windows behavior.

[0] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201236#sleep


Thanks. Updated, and probably this thread is off-topic enough that I should just delete it.

In my head I had not distinguished between "shutdown" and "sleep", nor decide that the hardware was less to blame than the software. Those details matter, sorry for any confusion.


Go tap the power button on a Macbook keyboard. It doesn't do anything. Hold the power button and it prompts.

It's a tad unbelievable.


Hmm, it might be because we run Windows on the macbooks, but you're right -- maybe it didn't fully shut down. Even sleep is pretty disruptive; it takes my machine ~30s of playing-dead before it pops back, and I'm booted from the VPN and all my connections. I run into this accidental-coffee-break every now and then.

We bought a USB keyboard + mouse for the candidates.


Do you realise how ridiculous you sound ? You're blaming a Mac for Windows OS behaviour.

On Mac OS pressing the power button does nothing, it takes seconds to come back from sleep and it never drops VPN unless you are going to sleep for hours.


As I understood it the part where you hit the power button when you don't want is the root of the problem. The horrible Mac keyboard is accidentally also the topic here.


If we're talking about the newest line of MacBooks, how does one accidentally press the power button? Maybe it's just my computer but it takes quite a bit of power to accentuate it compared to the other keys.


Well, as noted though, this behavior is determined by the OS; it's not a hard-coded part of the system or anything. Windows has a control-panel option for what Windows should do when the power button is pressed, and for whatever reason, it defaults to "Shutdown". This is not the behavior on macOS, and as such accidental presses are not a problem on macOS, nor would it on Windows if the user desired.


Accidental power button are still a problem, because obviously the correct key wasn't hit. It's mitigated, but a mitigated problem is still a problem.

But with proper keyboard design, accidental presses wouldn't be a problem.


The topic is not "macOS is ruining my life" but "The new MacBook keyboard is ruining my life".

Besides that, I would consider going on standby accidentally a problem independent of the OS (hitting the power button for a shot time usually gets you in standby also).


I don't think you understand the situation though.

On the older Macbook's the power key is still in the top right corner just like it is on the new ones. If you can't type properly it is still possible to hit it.

Not that tapping the power button does anything.


On Thinkpads you have to hold the power button a bit for it to actually register.


Same on macOS, and even then you just get a dialog box asking if you want to shut down. Hold it down for 5-10 seconds and you initiate a force shutdown.


I have Dell XPS 13. When keyboard broke (probably my fault), technician come to my house next day and replaced it in front of me. For free, as part of basic warranty. I was on holiday in other country...


Dell doesn't produce the most beautiful laptops, but at least every component isn't soldered to your "logic board".

It comes at a cost of larger and heavier laptops, but the XPS 13 Developer Edition I write this on is small, runs Linux, and has a beautiful display and a real keyboard I don't absolutely hate. Even Linus likes it.

I am slowly turning back towards Dell for almost all my main computing accessories (laptop/monitor).


I love my XPS 15 otherwise, but it has the same problem: A double-pressing spacebar all the damn time, and capslock+<key> (I remapped caps to ctrl) leaves <key> software-stuck until I press any other key.

So far, no updates. I could send it to Dell to have the keyboard replace, but that's going to leave me without a laptop for days, and will do exactly nothing, since this is a software problem.


In the pre-retina days, Mac laptops were quite easy to service yourself.

I had a plastic Macbook that I spilled soda pop onto. The keyboard basically got fried. I ordered a replacement part from OWC and was able to fix it myself quite quickly.

The only downside was having to carry an external keyboard in my bag while waiting for the part to arrive since it was my work computer.


Likewise when my screen broke, their technician rolls into my office the following day with a new one, no questions asked


This, so much. Plus, call me clumsy, but the number of times I have accidentally triggered one of the magic bar buttons is beyond count. In everyday use, it often feels like my computer just randomly mutes system audio or locks the display (I had to get rid of the Siri button, it's incredibly annoying).

All of that besides the fact that you cannot really use VIM any more because the ESC button is gone...


The most annoying thing about Siri is that another key press does not close that window again. It's the first thin I removed from the touch bar.

The number of times I actually wanted to change the terminal colors or open a man page with the touchbar is exactly zero. I press them often enough by accident that I am annoyed.

The touchbar is a solution looking for a problem. Can't find one. If you want reconfigurable keys, why not put a small display in each of them? That would at least be a possible benefit without these fundamental drawbacks.


"Can't find one. If you want reconfigurable keys, why not put a small display in each of them?"

Good idea. The whole trend toward touch interfaces is really annoying. Something tactile is much better if you see it a lot. Same in cars. Operating a car heater through touch is much more difficult and requires more attention than old fashioned dials.


As a vim user, I don't find the software escape to be bad—it's always in the same spot, even if it's not a physical key. Also, in vim, you can use ctrl-[ instead of escape (which is arguably better anyway).


Ctrl + [ won't work on any non-English keyboard as the square parenthesis are hidden behind a modifier already. This is a constant problem with software, and now hardware, manufacturers that they assume everyone in the whole wide world is using a US keyboard.

Yes, you can remap and fiddle to make it work but that isn't the point, the point is to pay the same price, sometimes more than Americans and get the same value and experience. Instead we get an inferior experience that requires hacks. Not good at all.


Interesting that you use your native keyboard for programming. I'm Czech, all the Czech programmers I know use English layout for programming.


Here in Norway I have never once seen a non-Scandinavian layout keyboard. Not once. As I'm from the UK I have considered getting a UK or US keyboard for coding at home, but at work it isn't an option, mostly because we all have standard equipment and because ø,æ & å.


The actual keyboard language is irrelevant since the layout is defined in software. You can just change the layout to US or UK and learn to touch type it. The US layout is lot nicer if you write a lot of code in my opinion.

You can also set up multiple layouts and switch via OS shortcut when needed.


My gripe is with play/pause. I like having the key but don't want iTunes to be open on an accidental press.


remap to caps lock or use ctrl[ which is better than moving your hand off the home row of keys to hit escape.

I haven't had any issues pressing the touch bar icons accidentally, not even once. Personal anecdote of course.


> All of that besides the fact that you cannot really use VIM any more because the ESC button is gone...

What serious VIM user has not remapped ESC?

One of the reasons I don't like to use VIM, is that the ESC key is so far away, and not suitable for ergonomic typing. If I wasn't already used to Emacs/Sublime and had to use VIM, I would have remapped it immediately. I probably still should, but I use it rarely enough that I don't bother.

Mac OS even has a built-in option for remapping it to caps lock. Apple is very conservative about adding options in System Preferences, so I think this is something a lot of programmers do.


This is the reason I bought the entry model without Touch Bar and maxed it out as a custom build.

I'm very happy with it. Except yes the arrow keys suck.



I actually really like my 2017 MBP's keyboard. There isn't much key travel, but the keys do have a very satisfying "click." I prefer it over older apple keyboards. Keys do have issues weekly or so, but that's resolved by hitting the key a bunch; it's an inconvenience, but certainly not a dealbreaker.


> Keys do have issues weekly or so, but that's resolved by hitting the key a bunch

I've been considering moving to a 12 MacBook but hearing stuff like this scares me


Yeah. I'm just shocked by how much people are willing to just deal with as if it is normal or something. I have a friend who recently told me they are surprised as how much I hate my 12" MacBook as they are loving theirs... and then a little later they tell me that the O key on their keyboard doesn't work half the time and just... I just don't even... wtf. I swear all the people who love these new computers must just have extremely low standards or something: you shouldn't have to mess around with your computer every week to fix some stupid keyboard issue that wouldn't exist if the laptop was a mere millimeter thicker.


I have two Macbooks from 2015 and none hat any key issues whatsoever.


I have two 12 MacBook at home. I've replaced the keyboard twice on one and zero times on the other. Each time some keys got stuck in pressed position which meant we had to press harder. My other had similar issues except the keys popped back up somehow.

That occasional glorious press on "Return" key may lock it... and it feels terrible.


Plus ça change...

My first computer was the ZX 81 with its pressure-sensitive membrane keyboard. While I was tinkering around, I accidentally dropped a screw driver on the "K" key, which was now permanently depressed, and subsequently I had to lift it up a bit with a suction cup (or, well, orally) before I could type...


> Keys do have issues weekly or so, but that's resolved by hitting the key a bunch; it's an inconvenience, but certainly not a dealbreaker.

My first laptop was a Toshiba Satellite something or other. It was plasticky, had a shitty screen hinge, terrible battery life, poor trackpad, and eventually the video stopped working (I suspect some of the GPU's BGA pins came loose). At the time it cost ~$1000.

Even this POS laptop's keyboard didn't have "issues weekly or so". I don't understand how this is acceptable in a premium product. Remember, the keyboard is a Macbook's primary input device. This is like if the touch functionality on your smartphone started misbehaving once a week until it got "unstuck".


That seems rather unacceptable given the price of these computers and the history of perfectly fine keyboard designs.


Am I the only one who has been heavily using the new MBPs since launch, with zero keyboard issues whatsoever? And I sometimes eat at my laptop.


In the interest of not only providing anecdotes when I'm complaining: I too have had zero issues with the keyboard in the ~4 months I've been using it daily, and actually quite like it. I was afraid after hearing the stories that it'd be an expressionless, tactileless hunk of junk, but I like it a lot.



I quite enjoy typing on the new keyboard (2017 MBP), and have not had any issues.

My only minor criticism would be that the up and down arrows are a little tricky to hit quickly without looking, but it's really minor for me.

Overall, in my experience, this was a solid upgrade on the previous keyboard (which I had to use a few days ago to prepare my old MBP to be sold).


Yeah, these up and down arrows are a bit of a disappointment. I have a Dell XPS which has the same half-height keys for up and down. I hit the wrong one all the time. Guess I should enable system-wide vim or emacs bindings or something.


As a mechanical keyboard fan, I'm quite impressed with how much tactile feedback the keys provide despite the short travel. I could live without the touchbar though.


When I got my first MacBookPro in 2009 I was sold instantly.

Not because of the specs, I had given up a Dell costing a quarter of the price with higher resolution display, more memory, a nicer keyboard and faster CPU.

I was sold because, unlike any of the other Windows & Linux computers I owned at the time, it did not make me angry when I used it.

I miss _that_ MacBookPro.


There was literally nothing wrong with the MBP2013 keyboard. This endless pursuit of making anorexic electronics by Apple will only continue inventing faults like these - there's simply a limit to how thin these things can go and maintain durability, and that's what we're seeing here.

Jobs never would have let this nonsense happen. He'd have pressed the key and thrown the machine at whomever invented this "butterfly" switch.


I have a 15” 2016 model and I’m close to throwing it out of my office window.

My b and n keys acted up randomly. B would hit twice on each press and n would miss keystrokes sometimes. Cleaned it with air, massaged the keys, removed caps and cleaned etc. Other keys started following. Apple here in Turkey does not have the same support you guys in US seem to enjoy.

They gave me a 15 day repair window, no offer of replacements etc. I simply can’t live without it for 15 days so I’m still using this piece of shit broken laptop.

I’d buy a replacement and send this one to repair only to sell it but then I’d still need to buy a MBP because of macOS.

One of these days I’m gonna pull thr plug and go all linux.


Well, I'm glad it's not just me. I had my top case replaced a month ago after my 'w' key started sticking down off and on. I could swear I felt one of the keys on my new case stick once, but it hasn't happend again.

I usually don't buy Apple Care, but as I look at the 1 year mark approach, I'm thinking I may need to suck it up and buy it if the alternative is a $400-700 top case replacement ever few months on my dime until Apple decides to issue an extended warranty. Even if they do issue one, with my last laptop, I had to fight them to replace my main board a second time with the GPU failures because they tried to claim that since they repaired it once, it was impossible that the issue could happen a second time even though all of their diagnostic tests showed that it indeed had.

On the plus side, ever time they replace the keyboard, you get a brand new battery and new USB-C connectors (which I'm also paranoid are going to have longevity issues).


> Even if they do issue one, with my last laptop, I had to fight them to replace my main board a second time with the GPU failures because they tried to claim that since they repaired it once, it was impossible that the issue could happen a second time even though all of their diagnostic tests showed that it indeed had.

Been there, done that. Even to fix once. "Well, it fails that specific diagnostic and there's a bulletin about it, but we don't think that's the issue", even though I could repeatedly make it kernel panic due to a GPU fault merely by browsing a page in Safari (and the console spewed forth the same errors).

I know people claim Apple has uniformly excellent service and I'd agree that for the most part, they do, but there's also polarizingly bad service, too.


I replaced my broken MBP 2013 to 2017. The keyboard is really horrible!! The 2013 KB was wonderful and I can't find any other laptop with same great KB.

With the new MBP, after one month of purchase, the display is down. I went to Apple Store, and they told me 3 days for repair but I never get any email/tel contacts after a week and their online status remained "repairing". Until I call them back, they told me they contacted and I didn't pick up their phone.

Now after 2 months, I found a video quality issue on their FaceTime camera (with sunlight, same issue): https://imgur.com/a/AQTOw

Has anyone with the same experience?


I despise my new Macbook's touchbar. I can't get to the volume button without stopping what I'm doing for 4-5 seconds to find the key, then press multiple buttons, I can't use the function keys, and it generally adds no value.


Just use the buttons on your wired headphones which are equally compatible with your iPhone and Mac... oh, wait.


Great shitpost, too bad none wired headphones like the crowd favourites qc35 and others have volume keys too. Its sad to think that you cannot get out of your bubble and realise that this is not objectively a bad design choice, but some of us actually enjoy and applaude it.


It sounds like there's real, serious problems with it, but nothing in the article comes close to justifying the hyperbolic title.


Apples obsession with thin is taking liberties and no matter what they say, I know a significant number of MBP users who are sticking with older laptops - just like the genius in the article.


The previous generation MacBook Pros are still sold new on the Apple Store. Scroll down a bit: https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro/15-inch


I had keys go bad twice on my 2017 MBP, but both times I've managed to "massage" them back to life by pressing down hard and wiggling the keys around.

My previous laptop, the original 2012 MBP Retina, lasted 5 years. I have my doubts this one is built as robustly...

That said I actually enjoy typing on this keyboard. The short travel and sharp, stable clickiness has lowered my typing error rate and makes it feel like I'm typing faster. I was never a good typist though.


Don't worry everyone! Apple's going to fix this in the next version by replacing the keyboard with a touch screen!


Don't give them ideas. Just... don't. The all new Electro Tactile Keyboard. It is the most amazing typing experience you have ever had on a keyboard.

3 years later everyone is wandering around with claws for hands, having forgotten what real keyboards do for human to computer interaction.


Ahem, this isn't a new idea for them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FingerWorks


Of course. If I think of it some one else did 10 years ago ;)


> Though Apple employees receive significant yearly discounts on computers, and this was the first significant redesign of the MacBook Pro’s body in eight years, he had chosen not to buy one of the new ones, even a year later. (The author, referring to a Genius' 2015 MBP)

Umm. I earn modestly good money developing software and my 2010 MBP is starting to show its age. How much does he think an Apple Store employee makes? How much DOES an Apple Genius in NYC make?


According to glassdoor, an Apple Genius working in NYC makes approximately $23/hour [1].

[1] https://www.glassdoor.com/Hourly-Pay/Apple-Mac-Genius-New-Yo...


FYI, OP is a woman: https://twitter.com/caseyjohnston


Thanks for pointing that out! Usually aiming for non-gendered language, but sometimes assumptions get the better of me!


It's rare seeing an ad get through ublock and hosts filters.


The outer div from the advert has a data-dfp-pixel attribute with a value of a doubleclick URL. I'm not sure what that is about, but I guess it is for tracking.

The images themselves are coming from the imgix CDN for outline-brand so they do seem to be providing their own adverts, but maybe using doubleclick for some sort of engagement tracking. I'm not really sure.


Yes, but I didn't find that ad "out of place" or annoying. So I do not mind!


I had the same feeling, I don't mind ads if they are done well.


This site probably has its own ad system.

The way to go imo.


> “Hold on,” I said. “If a single piece of dust lays the whole computer out, don't you think that's kind of a problem?”

> ...

> The Genius shrugged empathetically. He cast around and pointed to a nearby pre-2015 MacBook Pro with relatively thicker keys. "I have one of those," he said apologetically.

Wow. That's got to be the worst tech-support I have ever heard of.


What do you expect him to say? He's not an Apple engineer. He didn't design the keyboard. He's a blue-shirt working customer service at an Apple store.


I expect him to say something along the lines of, "I don't know, let me see what I can find out and I'll get back to you."

Imagine your lawn mower broke, and took it to a repair shop. You complain it doesn't switch on. The repair guy says maybe there is a piece of grass that got inside, and that's why it's not working. You say that sounds like a really bad design if a lawn mower can't handle a piece of grass. He says, "Oh, well I use some other model."

How is that even remotely helpful?


This is what happens when you hyper-optimize for a single dimension in a many-dimensional optimization problem. In this case it's "thin and light."

MacBook Pros have been thin and light enough for nearly a decade. If I want tiny I have a smart phone that I can pull out of my pocket. I want a laptop to be a portable "real computer" with a lot of power, durability, and good ergonomics. Long battery life is also important. I'd be very happy with a thicker Pro with more CPU, more RAM, and a big battery.

The latest Macs are such a disaster I'm currently thinking about how I can extricate myself from the platform and go back to either Windows or Linux. The OS is fine but the hardware has gone bozo. My latest Mac was a refurbished older model which I consider to be superior in many ways to the newer ones.


I might sound like the black sheep here - but I really enjoy typing on the new MacBook keyboard, even when switching from my DAS ultimate on my desktop and back - I truly enjoy it and make far less mistakes while typing faster.

What I do think is completely useless is he touchbar, nice idea but no real use.


I‘m struggling as well since i have migrated from my 2015 macbook pro. The new keyboards are not well suited for writing more than a few occassional sentences. I make more typing mistakes and am slower than before. Worst keyboard since my whole life. Apple needs to improve this.


I am a developer spending 10+ hours a day on my old macbook pro (2015 model). It is without doubt the best pc I've ever had. And I am treating it with even more care now.

I really don't want the new model as replacement, for more reasons. I don't expect Apple to recover from the loss of Steve Jobs, at least not in terms of quality. I see they are trying to remain a financial success.

Which laptop will be an improvement compared to the one I have now? I don't want Windows, but a Linux distro would be great if the OS happened be as robust as OSX in all respects. I tried Arch, Ubuntu flavours, etc.. none of them compare in many ways. I actually never had a touchpad on any other laptop that behaved as smooth as the mbp one for example.


I love the keyboard on new MacBooks. I'd like to have a keyboard like that for my desktop PC actually. I like how low travel it is, allowing me to type super fast with minimal effort, also it is nice to touch and makes nice sounds when typing.


I also love the 12" MB keyboards. And the new MBP keyboards are even better. I treat my 2016 12" MB like shit, throw it in my bag without a case, eat in its general area, and I've never had an issue with dust messing up the kb. But I believe that there's a design flaw here that apple should fix. But the keyboards are great from every other angle.


It constantly amazes me how a product which is so widely criticized by the dev community, ends up selling so well. Really shows how Apple dropped the ball from making a system which became the de-facto developer laptop (whether I like that it did or not is a different question), right upto this clunky mess which is a far cry from their earlier versions

I still maintain that the 2012 rMBP, which were the last Macbooks that came out under Jobs IIRC, were the most stable developer-focussed iteration of the MBP. No heating issues, a sexy screen, stable non-glitchy non-hanging OS, and a wonderful experience overall!


Are thy selling well? Apple's market share is not growing. I got a 2012 MBP and the money to buy a new one. What I see is not convincing me I get value for money. Apple used to know that basics matter but recently they are innovating on the margin. That only gets you so far onto the ice...


This autumn I finally needed to buy a new laptop and spent some time testing and figuring out which keyboard I like the most. The funny thing was that the only seriously decent laptop keyboard is in a model that has a limited release and will probably sell out in the coming weeks: The ThinkPad 25th anniversary edition.

How can it be that to get a seriously good keyboard for programming, I need to get a novelty laptop and get it fast until it sells out. If you have a chance to test it somewhere and can take a hit with a FHD panel, this is definitely a fast and robust laptop.


I just received my T25. They are already unavailable in the US. I will soon be making a comparison video between the T25, my X62, and the old X300.

I will say that the panel itself is a good panel, 1080p aside. It is like the one in the T450s - good white point, linear constant-current backlight driver (no flickery low-freq PWM!)


I was so lucky to find one from a local computer store. I've been writing code with it now for two days and I must say it's the best laptop I've ever used. The keyboard is just too good, but it's also sturdy, fast and feels nice. And I've had four thinkpads, two macbooks and one asus. T25 might be the pinnacle of laptops for me. Lenovo would be stupid to not continue using these keyboards in some of their models.


I think FHD is a feature. Even on a 15" laptop it is around 140ppi, thats... a lot. And FHD saves on battery life significantly on anything not Apple. I specifically ordered a Precision 7520 this week with an anti-glare FHD with no mic or webcam because 140+ PPI is a good balance for me and it extends battery life significantly.

96 ppi is the old standard. 140ppi generally gives a very nice and crisp screen. The 220 or so on most MBP retina is nice, but probably overkill starting around 180ppi in my estimation.


Agreed, and I'm happy that I'm not the only person with this view on display density. I can deal with HiDPI displays if it allows me to to a 1:2 integer scale without losing too much real estate, but any scaling between there loses small pixel details. As someone who appreciates sharp bitmap fonts and pixel graphics, the retina MBP is a big irritation.


It's definitely ok! I just had a ThinkPad X1 Carbon to test from work and I kind of liked the WQHD resolution with the crisp colors. At least for 15" screen and keeping one Emacs and one terminal side by side was a nice way to work and I could easily read the text.

Not complaining though, everything else in this T25 is so much better.


Complete opposite is new Surface Book or however it is called. Keyboard travels just fine, it has touch screen, long life... I am writing this on Mac, I have several more, but since passing of Steve Jobs, things are just not right.

Anyhow, looking at new Microsoft machine, with great graphics card and every feature I would want (sd card, thank you!), couldn't help but think about how things have changed.

Oh and biggie, it has Esc key! Can you imagine that :)


Ha ha ha, truth hurts so much :) How Apple dares not be cool :)

I am in the same boat, I am just not as messed up as you downvoters.


Once bash on windows gets sufficiently close to my needs and I am able to swap alt with ctrl, I will little resistance for going from OS X to windows.


linux as daily driver is honestly good, from the bottom of my heart (I recommend xfce)


Also if any Linux laptop can give me 8 plus hours of productive battery life I am also switching. I had problems with an old one where closing laptop lid drained all the battery so I constantly had to worry about the on state of my laptop


It's already here. I got between 13h (normal workload) to 25h (no internet and Emacs only) on the Lenovo x270 with arch and i3wm


Great thanks good to know. Do you have any issues with sleep or closing lid draining battery ?


No issues here. Only issues I got is related to the fingerprint scanner.


Ehh, anecdotal, I know, but a couple of our new MBPs we have bought kernel panic and never wake up from sleep either. I have a Dell XPS 13 and it wakes and sleeps. I recommend cruising the Arch Linux Wiki for your specific laptop you have in mind. It is rare for it to not have some sort of issue you need to iron out around sleep.


Have a 2017 MPB I got for work, I pretty much only run it in closed clamshell mode. If I need to actually be type something, I will pull out a $500 acer laptop from 5 years ago running linux because it is much nicer to type on.

If I actually paid for the machine I would be pretty mad. The keyboard misses clicks and the lack of the escape key still bothers me.


So glad someone called this out. A single key on my MBP broke and Apple wanted $500 to "fix" it, even with AppleCare.

Fuck that.


Wait you had paid for Apple Care and yet they wanted $500? Why is Apple so sacred with so many people?


Because this isn't the typical experience for most?

I've had nothing but good things to say about Apple's repair policies. If it's in warranty, wander into an Apple Store, explain the issue, come back an hour or two later for your free fix or replacement.

Done and done. I've also heard horror stories, but they're a pretty big company. I'm not surprised it's a mixed bag. I can say that there are almost no companies that have a store a couple blocks from me that I can walk into and get free same day repair service for some devices.

The vast majority require me to mail my device into some unknown depot and be without it for a much longer period of time.


They consider the broken key to be "accidental damage" which puts the user at fault. Therefore, no warranty.


This is correct. Not the first time Apple Care has screwed people.


The best kind of controversial Apple design is one that people grumble about because it's ahead of its time, but which ultimately replaces one way of doing things with another that's better for most use cases. See: ditching floppies and adopting USB on the first iMac.

The worst kind of controversial Apple design is one that people grumble about because it's aesthetically pleasing but actually makes the product less user-friendly. See: the hockey-puck mouse on the first iMac.

Regarding that second kind, sometimes Apple recognizes their mistake and, in a future iteration, completely replaces the bad design with a better one. More recently, they seem too infatuated with their initial design decisions and just keep putting band-aids on fundamentally flawed implementations. The butterfly keyboard mentioned in TFA is on its third(!) revision, and it's still clearly flawed. Another example: Apple "fixed" the impossible-to-tell-in-the-dark-which-way-you're holding-it Apple TV remote by putting a single tactile ring around one button, rather than just designing an ergonomic remote that makes it tougher for you to accidentally engage the touchpad and cancel out of the movie you're watching.

So why might Apple underestimate the severity of bad design decisions?

Apple's direction with the Mac lineup as of late is a great example of "success hides problems." [1] Supposedly, the 2016 MacBook Pros sold very well, despite a number of bad design choices that put form over function:

- The keyboard design as described in TFA

- The touch bar (only available on the high end models). The designer must have really hated those useless, ugly fkeys. But instead of putting the touch bar above the fkeys, they eliminated them. The touch bar is not a substitute, unless all you used the fkeys for was changing volume, etc.

- Eliminated all other ports in favor of USB-C, which while great in theory is in fact a highly fragmented incompatible ecosystem of poor quality peripherals and cables that don't give the user any visual indicator as to whether they work together. [2]

IMHO, many if not most of these MacBook Pro customers are buying not because of these bad design decisions but in spite of them. Computers are amazing because they're fun and powerful general purpose machines. These machines may meet some subset of people's needs better than the old ones did. But in exchange for that, they've stopped (or soon will stop) meeting the needs of many, many more.

Somebody once said "design is how it works." If you live in a sterile white world where there's no dust and you never plug anything into your laptop, maybe this product works for you. The rest of us don't have that luxury.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=success+hides+problems

[2] https://marco.org/2017/10/14/impossible-dream-of-usb-c


I understand what you are getting at, but in reality not everyone has issues with the new design, and I’m as yet unclear whether it’s a vocal minority who do, or a more widespread thing.

Personally, I really like my new 15” Pro. I’m in favour of anything which can make it thinner and lighter, to a point, as I like to be able to carry it around easily, while still having a large screen. The design looks beautiful.

In regard to the specific points you raised:

- I prefer the keyboard to the old one. It feels satisfying to type on in my opinion. The only thing I would change is the noise of the keys, it’s hard to type quietly.

- The touch bar isn’t perfect but I think it’s a worthwhile effort, as most people (me included, and I’m a developer) rarely use the function keys for anything aside from the media functions you mention, mainly because it’s hard to remember what they’ll do and having shortcuts visible there is a good idea.

However, the lack of tactile feedback and visibility in sunlight is an issue. I’d rather they’d gone with distinct keys with e-ink displays or similar, but like I say, to me the Fn keys are no great loss (I’ve been remapping escape to caps lock for years anyway!)

- I find the new port set up much more flexible and have had no problems using my old USB devices with adapters or via a hub. I did find the article about USB-C interesting though - hopefully the industry can sort this out in due time.

I don’t make these points to say you’re wrong, but just to show that not everyone agrees that all these design choices are bad.


I'm on Windows, so there's that.

I constantly (multiple times a day) use F1 (help, least used), F3 (search again, next match), F4 (both for the famous close window shortcut and to get to the explorer address bar), F5 (reload in browser, run in other apps), F9 (toggle breakpoint in VS), F10 (step over in VS), F11 (step into in VS).

Occasionally F8, F12.

Couldn't live without those, I guess, and I can find all of those blindly.


Ahh yes, function key use is much more prevalent in Windows for whatever reason. On the Mac most of those shortcuts have always been Cmd+letter instead (e.g. Cmd-R = refresh, Cmd-W = close window, Cmd-Q = close app, Cmd-F = find), so perhaps that is why Apple see the Fn keys as expendable.

On the debug thing, having the debug controls on the Touch Bar with XCode (available from any app) is one of the few actually definitely useful things about it. Spotify integration could be, except they decided not to show song name or anything else useful on there.


Wouldn’t having the debug controls on Fn keys like on VS on Windows be even more useful since you get tactile feedback as well?

The major advantage of the touchpad that I can see is for someone who is new to the app, since it increases discoverability if shortcut keys. However this problem was already solved using toolbars. There may be a few apps where the screen real estate may be too expensive to lose to toolbars, but I can’t really think of any where simply fading the toolbars in isn’t a better solution. Maybe 4ak video editing is a better option?

I’d also imagine controls where scrubbing is better might benefit from the touchbar, but again, that’s probably better handled by the touchpad which is far more ergonomically accessible than the touchbar.


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