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The Great Apple Keyboard Cover-Up (ifixit.org)
406 points by shritesh 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 179 comments

The fact that the membrane is still vented (labeled 321 in the diagram) suggests that this will only delay, and not fix the dust ingress problem. Indeed, it could make things worse by creating a tiny pump[1] that draws particles in on each keystroke.

I don't know why they didn't vent from the bottom instead, but that's how completely sealed (i.e. waterproof) keypads are vented.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragm_pump

Edit: wow, downvotes? Care to explain...?

Interesting point! Patent is suggesting its a pump but won't cause ingress due to small size. Per the full patent:

> [0058] For example, FIG. 3D depicts a third alternative example of the key assembly of FIG. 3A. In this example, the membrane 213 or gasket defines a vent 320, aperture, or other hole in one of the sides 318A. When the key cap 103 is moved towards a depressed position, the membrane 213 compresses gas inside the internal area 319, forcing the gas through the vent 320. This allows the embossed area of the membrane 213 to act as a bellows mechanism, forcing gas in a direction 321. This may force contaminants away from the internal area 319 and/or out of the aperture 210. This may also reduce compression of the membrane 213, reduc- ing how much the membrane 213 affects the force curve response.

The specific point about sizing is this next section:

> In various implementations, the vent 320 may be configured with sufficiently small dimensions that gas can be forced through the vent 320 without easily allowing liquids, dust, and/or other particles to enter the internal area 319 from the aperture 210.

Also here's the Patently Apple analysis [0], which points out that this patent covers three different designs (the vented one being the third). I'm not sure the third design we're discussing is the one implemented in the 2018 models though.

[0] http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2018/03/a-new-ap...


This comment breaks the site guidelines in at least two ways, as well as being off topic. Please don't post like this here.


What is really interesting is the up and down voting patterns as we swing around the working world. Asia/Australia is quite different to Europe which is very different to the USA. You can have a comment voted way up in one region and then massively slammed down as the sun moves into another.

I really experienced this with my anti-GDPR comments. In the afternoon EST they’d be positive and then take a nosedive in the evening / overnight, I assume as Europeans woke up and took umbrage :)

Yes GDPR is one of the topics sensitive to regional voting. Another is anything questioning if humans might not be born blank slates. Human evolution discussion is also quite sensitive to the time of day.

That would be extremely interesting to see. I really wish votelogs were public. The invisible hand is precisely why active measures [1] are so effective.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_measures

I, on the other hand, really hope they don’t become public. That’s just going to allow for retaliatory voting.

Public but anonymized, with timestamps might make for some interesting data.

> You were being critical of Apple.

This doesn't fall under improper discourse as there was no discernible inflammatory tone. HN is a collection of critical thinkers and in this case offered an enlightening and relevant mechanical design point.

Wow. I thought I was nuts for noticing this pattern. I have seen it when criticizing various nation states, politicians, and other corporations both here and on Reddit. I guess current generation bots are dumb and have no time delay.

>> Edit: wow, downvotes? Care to explain...?

> Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.

Don’t worry about downvotes, even if you care about the karma points you can at most get to -4 anyway.

Concerning points, here's what works for me: I act on the assumtion that I can't take the points with me when (I'm || HM) is dead. So... while I need enough to enable free speech, accumulating internet points is not the reason I participate in this forum.

Let's wait for the Black Mirror episode where your internet points will make your Avatar's afterlife more enjoyable.

See Tom Scott’s Welcome to Life. [0]

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFe9wiDfb0E

Was the old keyboard engineering so bad? I feel like Apple has been fixing what wasn't broken since about 2010, regarding the MBP at least.

Literally all they needed to do was retina screen, upgrade the internals, and add a few USB-C ports. Was anyone ever legitimately inconvenienced by the thickness of the 2010 MBP? I know I was directly inconvenienced by the loss of MagSafe, ethernet, SD card and USB-A, the loss of the FN key row, and loss of serviceability.

So much so that my 2010 MBP will very likely be my last Apple purchase ever.

After using my 2016 MBP for two years, going back to my 2014 MBP just feels wrong.

The keyboard is so much better on the modern ones, so I’d recommend giving it a chance !

I switched to 2016 and recently back to 2013 (due to 2016's keyboard being broken) and feel exactly the opposite. I am seriously considering whether migrating back is an option (despite them apparently being binary incompatible so I had to rebuild half of my homebrew to avoid those "illegal instruction" errors). I think Apple is fixing what's not broken, and most likely my next notebook won't be an MBP unless they get their act together quickly (which I don't think is very likely, but I keep an open mind until the time comes).

It felt wrong because it is not as "stable", but the depth of new keyboard is still "wrong".

Totally agree. I mostly type on Cherry MX blues, and a 2017 MBP. I just setup some stuff on my 2012 MBP (using it as a CI slave, the only reason it's not my daily driver anymore is because the battery is down to only 2-3 hours)... the keys feel very mushy and awful compared to the 2017 model.

Wow, your comment was killed within seconds. I’d suggest expanding on your opinion.

The 2016 keyboard feels, IMO, way better to type of. In comparison the old MBP feels like a much sloppier machine.

It’s size was also the only thing putting me off a personal purchase. Reliability issues aside (I haven’t been affected but I assume it’s a matter of time) it is a nicer machine.

I switched from a MBP to a Lenovo X1 Carbon and the keyboard is so much better on the X1, it’s on another level.

Lost macOS though, which, in the end, didn’t matter as much as I thought it would.

Lost macOS though, which, in the end, didn’t matter as much as I thought it would.


Or you could run it in a VM. I had to test something with macOS not long ago (not a regular Mac user) and was pleasantly surprised when, after doing a small amount of configuration, VirtualBox booted up from the ISO and installed a macOS VM that ran pretty much perfectly.

No hardware accelerated graphics in the vm though for mac os afaik, which can be painful even if you try and turn off most animations. No?

how does the touchpad compare? I feel I've been spolied by apple's touchpads, when I had to use another laptop I wanted to cry.

It’s definitely worse but not as bad as non-MB touchpads used to be. Plus, it’s motivating to use more keyboard shortcuts.

And when you learn to use the Lenovo TrackPoint, there is no going back.

Having a T25, X1C5 and X1C6 in the family and the keyboard+mouse experience is so much ahead of everybody else.

Used a Thinkpad (T550-something, retina screen) for a couple of years and can’t say I ever got used to or liked the track point, the touchpad had “palm detection“ but it was horrible and I ended up using a toggle key for the touchpad instead. The nipple fell of constantly which was incredibly annoying. The keyboard had crammed print screen next to space causing numberous misclicks and annoying shifts between laptop and external keyboard, the official dock didn’t even work oob and had to be patched via a bootable dos-usb, half the times I docked and undocked the picture stopped working completely forcing me to reboot via ssh from my phone if it was alive at all, the picture quality and workability in sunlight was horrible on the badly lit matte display. Yet it’s still the best non Apple laptop I’ve used, however after a few years I went back to the new MBP with TB and it’s been a true pleasure in comparison.

Oh yeah and the soft touch finish is nice at first but it starts to peel after about 2 years of use.

The area around the hinge on the 2011-2015 Era Macbook was plastic. It seems like they wanted to do away with that, a major mechanical break point, which meant removing travel distance from the keys so the screen could close more directly. (My 2011 MBP screen hinge was a bit wobbly a few years in.) You could look at the USB-C dongles in a similar way: older USB ports could fail eventually on that era MBP. The newer USB-C ports are probably "rated" for more insertions/removals.

You are correct. USB A ports are usually only rated to 1500 insertion cycles because that is what the standard specifies. Micro USB and USB C ports are specced at 10,000 insertion cycles.

I am stunned to hear micro USB is rated for that many insertions. The implementation must not live up to the standard. In my experience, anecdotal, I know, microUSB is the most unreliable of all the USB form factors I've experienced. Bad connectors on cables, and ports that regularly fail internally (not levered off the board.) I have considered replacing ports with miniusb, or a tethered B port because micro has been such an utter failure on so many of my devices.

MicroUSB is supposedly designed in such a way that the stress is placed on the cable connector which is easier to replace, not the device connector which is attached to an expensive device.

But yeah, I can't imagine Micro-USB being more reliable than regular USB-A.

Yep, had several devices fail because of micro-usb going bad. And the worst part is that since it's how you charge it, there's no option not to use it daily (yeah there's wireless charging standards, but adoption is abysmal so far).

Each of the USB-C ports needs a controller and if any of the four have an issue the computer will not charge.

One of the USB-C ports on my work laptop recently failed but the machine still charged from the other one.

Was going by this [1] which seems to show that if one of the charging ICs goes bad it can cause the rest not to work. This is probably one of many failure mechanisms.

[1] https://youtube.com/watch?v=MY8LlHfK9ZA

I believe MacBook Pro has two Thunderbolt controllers, one for each side.

The USB controller is unrelated to USB power supply.

The way that usb-c wobbles and how easily it unplugs proves its not designed for proffesional use.

No, that proves literally nothing.

It’s hardly an industrial connector, but AFAIK it’s rated for 10k inserts which is more than enough.

Try unplugging XLR

Then again, we don't use USB-C to connect on stage microphones to their cables in live shows...

Of any problem with USB-C it unplugging has never been an issue...

Not unplugging, but on my 2017 MBP it sometimes take a jiggle or even unplug/reinsert to get things to connect properly: monitor, dongle, etc.

Yeah, that's exactly what I need, XLR plugs on my phone :)

> Was anyone ever legitimately inconvenienced by the thickness of the 2010 MBP?

My tinfoil hat theory is yes - Apple's supply chain folks. Thinner and lighter laptops means more fit on a cargo airplane, which means lower shipping costs.

Tim Cook cut his teeth on Apple's supply chain as COO before becoming CEO, after all.

>Was anyone ever legitimately inconvenienced by the thickness of the 2010 MBP?

Sure. Here's a certain Linus Torvalds:

"I’m have to admit being a bit baffled by how nobody else seems to have done what Apple did with the Macbook Air – even several years after the first release, the other notebook vendors continue to push those ugly and clunky things. (...) I don’t think I’m unusual in preferring my laptop to be thin and light. (...) Btw, even when it comes to Apple, it’s really just the Air that I think is special. The other apple laptops may be good-looking, but they are still the same old clunky hardware (...)"

I absolutely adore the Air. I do a lot of remote HPC coding and typically just connect to the cluster via SSH. I have a monstrous desktop at home for when I'm back.

To me the Air is magical because it has a balance of my exact needs: portability, toughness and, battery life. I would give anything for an updated model.

Be cheered, there are a lot of great 13" devices that are at least as good as the Air for every category you list with the addition of price.

Most people ignore Chromebooks as direct comparisons, but many are just as tough, have similarly crummy/capable internals, cost a pittance, are as unupgradeable, and run Linux like champs. They're the platonic ideal of single function computing.

The 13" Acer I bought in 2012 had a 1080 display, could output over HDMI at 2160p, and played video for at least 8 hours on a full charge. Cost maybe $250 and had a very sturdy case that didn't bend or break when dropped. Not that shabby.

Do they pack them into the final boxes/packaging somewhere close to the end destination? Because those boxes haven't changed in size AFAIK. My 2017 MBP came in a 70 mm tall box, same as my 2012 one.

Even so, the difference in weight is still definitely a cost saving measure.

> My tinfoil hat theory is yes [...]

We don't need to speculate. How many MBPs fit in a cubic meter, and how much does it cost to ship a cubic meter of goods on a cargo plane?

According to this[1], flying a 40-foot container from Shenzen to London is around $2000. A 40-foot container has a capacity of 76 cubic meters.

The MBP fits in a 17” x 13” x 5” shipping box[2], which leaves some room for bubble wrap. That's 0.02 cubic meters, so 50 MBPs per cubic meter. So for $2000, 50*76 = 3800 MBPs can be shipped.

That's around 50 cents shipping cost, for something that sells for $1000, which means Tim Cook would have to be quite irrational to reduce the size of the MBP in order to reduce the (50-cent-per-MBP) freight expenditure.

[1] https://www.freightos.com/freight-resources/air-freight-rate...

[2] https://swappa.com/blog/the-best-way-to-ship-your-macbook/

I would guess that they are dense enough that their volumetric cost is weight constrained rather than volume constrained, so this may be less of a factor than you think.

I prefer the new keyboard (and I like that it's louder), but I have been affected by numerous failures in different machines. I also know many people who have experienced this exact same issue, often within a year of purchase. Two laptops I purchased in 2016 from the same store both had the issue, brand new. But I've had 2017 models with the same issue.

I don't believe this problem is really a limited as Apple has been saying, but they never seem to admit the true scale of problems.

Apple sold a MacBook Pro with all of those things you wanted except Ethernet until yesterday.

What are you talking about?

Apple continued to sell the 15" 2015 pre-butterfly-keyboard MacBook Pro model until yesterday (it has just been discontinued). That model had a retina screen, MagSafe, an SD Card reader, HDMI & USB-A ports (as well as two Thunderbolt 2 ports), but no Ethernet.


I bought a refurbished one of these in January of this year -- though I see that there are none of them available in the refurb store as of right now. The refurb inventory changes pretty rapidly though, so it might be worth watching in case one does pop up -- I suspect that they'll go quickly, and I almost wish I had purchased a backup.


Oh well, hopefully my current one lasts another few years, otherwise I'll probably have to give Windows a try as my main machine again, for the first time in ~10 years.

You can use RefurbMe to get an automatic alert when/if it returns to the Apple refurbished store:


And refurb models are also eligible for AppleCare if you want a 3 year warranty, but you have to buy AppleCare within 60 days of the Mac purchase.

The early 2015 MacBook Pro.

> Was anyone ever legitimately inconvenienced by the thickness of the 2010 MBP? I know I was directly inconvenienced by the loss of MagSafe, ethernet, SD card and USB-A, the loss of the FN key row, and loss of serviceability.

For an alternative perspective, http://chainsawsuit.com/comic/2016/10/29/the-new-macbooks-ar...

> Battery life is not great. But you can't use it outside anyhow because it'll blow away.

> We want to make a laptop so thin you'll close it and never find it again.

Yes but think about the people at the top of Apple who need to be seen to "innovating". Even if its misguided innovation. Change is good! Embrace!

They fixed the keyboard, increased the max memory to 32GB and stuck to their guns on the touch bar - and that all seems reasonable to me. (I’m far more annoyed by Microsoft removing ESC as the dbox cancel key for errors in Excel than the disappearance of the ESC key)

Remapping the "caps lock" key to ESC has worked out really well for me.

And to be fair to Apple, they make this remapping super-easy to do. No hacks, weirdness or third party tools are required.

Only if you want to remap to Esc. My preference is to set it as Delete. That I can not do w/o 3rd party apps.

It makes no sense to remap a home row key to such an infrequently used key. It's much better to remap Caps Lock to Control (by the way, how do you press Control A and Control E and Control L and Control R hundreds of times a day in bash? By reaching to the far away corner located Control? That's absolute madness).

Traditional UNIX keyboards had the control key in the position of where the caps lock key is now. If you remap your keyboard like that, bash and the Emacs shortcuts enabled throughout macOS will suddenly make A LOT of sense. After a few days it will seem be impossible to work in any other keyboard, which is further proof that the remapping is essential for working efficiently in a Unix environment.

I would personally remap the far away control key to act like an Escape key instead.

Sure, if you're a vi user, the caps lock as ESC will seem rational at first, but outside of vi, all other Unix tools work with control key combinations.

Map it to both. Single tap is escape, hold is ctrl.


It works super well. I can hit key combos that would normally be tricky super easily.

Now if only I could find a way to standardize my hotkeys across sublime, chrome, vim, terminal and tmux. I’ve gotten close but not where I want to. (As an aside, does anyone know how to make ctrl+w delete the word left to the cursor in chrome and put it in the buffer like in the terminal (and also do the same for subl)?)

> Traditional UNIX keyboards had the control key in the position of where the caps lock key is now

Couterpoint: when I was working at Lucent around 1999, they gave me a Sun workstation with a keyboard that had Esc instead of Caps Lock. There were others that had a Control key there, though.

Edit: I'm searching online and can't find a Sun keyboard with that layout. Now I'm wondering if I misremembered...

That's interesting. All the Sun keyboards that I have seen have the control key in the place of the caps lock key. I do know that some had the Esc key closer to the home row (back-tick position, I believe).

This is exactly what I've done. CapsLock -> Ctrl, Ctrl -> ESC.

It actually improves the ergonomics of bringing up the Force Quit dialog (my primary use of the ESC key, since I'm not a vi user).

I do this even though I don't currently have a TouchBar model.

> It makes no sense to remap a home row key to such an infrequently used key.

1. Having never used caps lock in years, I think any remap is an improvement.

2. I'm guessing you don't use Vim ;) For me, esc is one of my most frequently used keys.

> Having never used caps lock in years


I don’t have a touch bar but I do this too. I have it mapped to escape when pressed on its own and Ctrl when pressed with another key and that works great.

This is really interesting. Did you have to do anything special to make it work in OSX?

Yeah, install Karabiner Elements. It's a handy tool that will let you do a lot of keyboard customization.

Me too. I really hope this catches on.

> increased the max memory to 32GB

For the 15" model only, which costs £2,709 ($3,580)

They didn't really fix it though, did they?

This [0] from this morning was interesting. Apparently AppleInsider has been monitoring a number of Genius Bar and authorized service centers for warranty repairs of 2014 thru 2017 laptops. It seems 2016 MBPs had the most keyboard issues, and the 2017 version brought the claims back down to (and below) 2014/15 levels.

So, it might be reasonable to say they fixed it last year, in terms of prevalence of issues, although absurd cost to repair issue remains; combined with PR, probably explains this year's mod.

[0] https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/07/13/the-2018-macbook-...

Anytime there's a new chassis launched you have to expect greater failure rates on the early parts, and the 2016 model was the first one with a new chassis, so I'm not sure the data they have tells the entire story.

It's likely there were manufacturing issues that were still being worked out throughout the 2016 cycle and that there were very minor tweaks made during that year's run to improve reliability. If that were the case, the issues would be weighted toward 2016 models manufactured early in the year, and we'd only be able to know if we compared return data to build date.

In my personal experience with a 2016 MBP, one of the issues with the keyboard was that when the system was under load for a significant amount of time, the resulting increase in temperature around the left side of the keyboard would cause keys to stick. The keys would unstick after temps decreased. This was an issue discussed by several people in forums. A manufacturing change to something like the application of thermal paste on the CPU/GPU might change that, without any change to the keyboard design itself.

I’d be interested to see a breakdown of reasons the keyboards failed for each model year.

And what percentage of the pre butterfly design were because of sand/dust etc. then contrast that to the butterfly design percentage. They could have merely improved reliability in another way(s) with the butterfly design.

That would certainly be interesting -- from your other comments comments in this discussion it seemed like you already knew the answer! Guess I assumed too much.

That's literally the point of the article - the design was changed in a significant way to incorporate a fix to reduce dust, which is spelled out in the patent.

I fail to see how what they did is change “in a significant way”. It seems more of a bandaid to me. It almost signals an unwillingness to fundamentally change the keyboard design for the better

Well one person's band-aid is another's significant fix, and only the data will tell.

EDIT: Below is wrong, but keeping it for posterity:

Note that the desktop Magic Keyboards that employ the butterfly mechanism do not seem to have the same key sticking issues as those on MacBooks, so it's likely they felt the fundamental design of the mechanism was fine but that it did need an additional silicone barrier for the lower-travel MacBook variant.

The Magic Keyboards still use scissor switches.

Haha I love being wrong. Thanks for the heads up bangonkeyboard, you live up to your username.

That’s the question raised here: Apple has said that they’ve made the keyboard “quieter”. The jury’s out on whether that was codewords for fixing the issue.

I don’t dispute that. My point is they half-assed the fix

How do you know that? Have you had one of the new keyboards fail on you already?

The escape key never disappeared.

It’s just a soft key rather than a physical one. I use it hundreds of times a day with vim and have never had problems.

You use vim all day and you don't re-map escape? Really?

I don’t remap escape either. I remap caps lock to control and that’s about it. In my opinion most of those screaming loudest about the soft escape key haven’t really used it for more than a minute. It’s not as big of a deal as it’s beubg made out to be.

To me using a remapped escape takes more cognitive energy than using the soft escape.

control-[ ain't so bad

Or C-c with some minor extra config to make it behave identically.

Are you talking about the touchbar esc? Serious question, how the fuck do you use it without tactile feedback?

My approach was to remap caps lock to escape as a press and ctrl as a hold, and then disable the touchbar as much as possible (whoever put unmute and siri next to each other should be taken out and shot btw, that caused me so much annoyance)

The article mentions:

> After all, Apple told The Verge that “this new third-generation keyboard wasn’t designed to solve those [dust] issues.”

The patent contradicts that.

This is in-line with the the 'under promise and over deliver" mantra I was taught at Apple Retail. Don't make any promises you can't keep, and silently start to fix issues like this.

Apple having a hardware fix for their keyboard disasters in this revision is also inline with their repair program they just issued.

> Don't make any promises you can't keep

What, like delivering a keyboard that actually works reliably?

It seems very much the opposite of under-promise, over-deliver in that they promised it and the touch bar would be better. The most that can be said is both are proving hugely subjective and controversial.

Now, had they managed to get Thinkpad feel in 2mm travel...

>What, like delivering a keyboard that actually works reliably?

Under all other constraints you have. Which is not just simple "put any old working keyboard in there and call it a day".

> Apple having a hardware fix for their keyboard disasters in this revision is also inline with their repair program they just issued.

Yes, they just issued a repair program. Until precisely 3 weeks ago Apple refused to acknowledge the issue and forced customers to pay for costly repairs on their own dime. This patent was filed in September 2016. Apple was fucking lying through their teeth for a full 22 months and have been caught in that lie.

Frankly I'm amazed there isn't more outrage at this. How could anyone trust them going forward?

>Yes, they just issued a repair program. Until precisely 3 weeks ago Apple refused to acknowledge the issue and forced customers to pay for costly repairs on their own dime. This patent was filed in September 2016. Apple was fucking lying through their teeth for a full 22 months and have been caught in that lie.

Do you expect companies to immediately jump to full repair programs the minute the first few users complain?

Especially when people will complain about anything.

Of course they'd wait to see if it's a widespread issue.

> Do you expect companies to immediately jump to full repair programs the minute the first few users complain?

They designed a fix innovative enough to file a patent on, 22 months before they acknowledged the issue. That requires costly engineering time and organizational direction that is not used on a whim. They knew back then that this was a real issue.

>They designed a fix innovative enough to file a patent on, 22 months before they acknowledged the issue.

They work on changes, ideas, and improvements all the time, and they have 1000s of similar patents for everything, doesn't mean the work that lead to that patent was a response to the specific product issue -- could be just a patent about avoiding dust in keyboards in general (a problem that harks back to the ages).

>That requires costly engineering time and organizational direction that is not used on a whim.

Again, you'd be surprised. It just requires the idea, and someone to write it in patent-ease. They have patents for all sorts of ideas and some make it into products while others never see the light of day. They literally use those "on a whim". For Apple filling a patent is peanut money.








Because the vast majority of people didn’t have keyboard problems. And the vast majority of people that bought Apple Care wouldn’t be paying out of pocket for any of this assuming they bought their machine in 2015 or later.

Not everything is some conspiracy. Filing patents on improved designs doesn’t mean the old design was flawed and terrible. They are always filing patents on the next thing and hopefully everything is an improvement on what came before it.

Claiming they are lying is unfounded nonsense.

You mean like showing off AirPower wireless charger almost a year ago and never releasing it since. Totally didn’t overpromise anything there?

I'm sorry, but are people actually more concerned with the sound of the keyboard than the arrow keys?

It took me a week to get used to the sound. Six months in and I still can't reliably hit the arrow keys. It's as if they're designed to be as difficult as possible.

I tried using Sugru to fix the arrow keys on the Magic Keyboard, which is otherwise a surprisingly great keyboard: https://imgur.com/a/ntHf1xJ

I just hate that in 2018 I have to do such a stupid thing to a new computer from what's supposed to be a premium computer hardware company.

Apple users have enjoyed the perfect keyboard layout for 15+ years, only for some idiot manager to come along and change the layout for brainless aesthetic reasons. It's infuriating because the change is so unnecessary.

I won't buy or accept another Apple laptop until they go back to the old layout.

Put a bit of tape on the bottom half of the left and right keys if you need some tactile guidance and have old muscle memory. I do this on all my keyboards (my daily driver is a Microsoft sculpt) and it helps immensely with finding the correct key. Arrow keys in particular are just distant enough from default position to need that extra bit of tactile feedback.

You can also try these tactile dots. They are the absolute best. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NEUIQFO/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_...

On other keyboards, I’ve used a drop of CA glue (superglue) to add tactile feedback. Much like some keyboards have a bump on two of the home row keys

Clear nail polish works too. It's also a good makeshift loctite for tiny screws.

Never heard of this. Interesting.

Yeah, I worked at an optical lab to pay for college. We'd have customers come in with screws that wouldn't stay in so we'd use clear nail polish. I'm sure for some uses, loctite would be better, but nail polish does very good. We'd also use it on metal temple pieces when someone's facial oils had done a number on it. We'd buff the pieces smooth and coat with clear nail polish. Not a perfect fix, but would get someone who could afford new glasses by for a while longer.

Thank you for this tip! Will try it tomorrow.

Ooh, yes, I hate the new arrow keys. The inverted-T arrangement was great for positioning your fingers without looking down, since you could use the empty space to orient yourself.

I haven't used the new keyboard. Can't you still detect the arrow keys by feeling for the split between up/down?

You really can't.

Even on the Apple's new desktop keyboards, the split between the up/down keys is much smaller and much more difficult to detect than their older keyboards. It's much worse on the laptop keyboards.

And because the left and right arrow keys are now full height, it is literally impossible to determine if your middle finger is over the up/down keys or over the shift/up keys. And if your hand is in the wrong spot, nothing works.

As someone who writes code, it is hugely frustrating and it slows me down to the point that I now avoid writing code on Apple's laptops whenever possible.

The number of times I've been frustratingly pounding on up arrow only to finally look and discover that I'm hitting shift is astronomical. I'm coming up on 2 years with this keyboard and I still cannot reliably use the arrows without looking.

I haven't used the brand new Macbook that was just announced, but I have a 2 month old Macbook with the butterfly keyboard, and the arrow keys are fine... you can clearly feel the gap between the up/down arrows and you can either hit them separately or put your finger in the middle and rock back and forth.

The touch bar fake Escape key is more of an issue for me.

It really is not the same. Also, the up/down being squished to half their normal height makes things more difficult. In other words, there is just a lot less room for error, now..

The up/down arrow keys are sized as they were before. It's the left/right arrow keys that have grown to be twice their normal height.

On the magic keyboard, the whole bottom row of keys is shorter than they used to be. Not by a lot, but they're shorter. They're now the same height as the keys above.

Arrow keys and Keys getting stuck are biggest problems with the MBP. First time I used the keyboard, I had trouble inputting password and had to start using an extension instead. Now I have trouble inputting the long char master password. And still can’t hit arrow keys reliably after six months with this thing.

Hopefully Touch ID fixes the issue with having to enter a long password?

I know it's not a huge deal but touch id is less secure than a good password, so it's not a complete solution. You also can't use touch id in all circumstances... It's actually quite inconsistent in that regard.

I've been completely underwhelmed by the touch ID on my MBP. Faster just to type every time, or unlock with my watch

The watch is usually how I unlock my computer, but I'm surprised to hear you're underwhelmed by touch ID, as in my experience the touch ID is very accurate and quite fast (and I use it multiple times a day for authorization of things, especially unlocking 1Password).

It seems finicky. If I press straight down and line up carefully, it works. I've tried retraining but at this point I'm kind of done with it.

I guess one kinda important difference is that you can see how bad the up/down arrows are going to be before you buy it.

Nobody predicted the failure rate.

That MFing up arrow key on mine is an asshole.

I'm used to it now but they are quite loud when you sit in a quiet space. I've noticed a few stares my way when hammering away on the keyboard.

Totally with you on the arrow keys. I absolutely hate those and I still hit the down arrow around 50% of the times I aim for the up arrow.

I still have inverted-T arrows on my keyboard, but, I'm curious if you think it's more the new reality vs muscle memory mismatch, or a fundamental design flaw? Would children growing up only with flush full size r/l & half size u/d arrow keys find them vexing? Would they prefer inverted-T?

The types of keyboards I've cycled through in my life between various VAX, DEC, C64, Apple 2e, PC, ergonomic keyboards, laptops, I seem to adapt without really noticing. I look forward to seeing if I am flummoxed by the new arrow key layout, as much as I am by the constantly shrinking iOS onscreen shift keys.

I "grew up with" both styles, and I prefer inverted T much more. I used to consider full height left/right arrow keys one of the little things that would annoy me on the laptops that had them.

My wife's keyboard drives me nuts. Mine is silent. Her keyboard is like stampeding cattle.

I haven't used arrow keys on my Mac that I can recall.

YMMV, but many people get used to the arrow keys when they spend enough time on it. Personally I dislike it.

But the keyboard is just horrible, compared to any ThinkPad X/T. There's no reason a $900B company can't make a great keyboard, except a culture of letting designers get away with sacrificing function for thinness and form.

My too-expensive 2015 MBP has a nonfunctional keyboard. I have to type using external keyboards, which is quite "fun". Apple wants $500.

Dragging an old $10 USB keyboard around with you makes you look like you really like mechanical keyboards.

It's been about a year and a half now. I guess you get used to it.

They switched to the butterfly keyboard in 2016. Apple fixed my 2016 MBP Touchbar for free. If you're having issues w/ a 2015 model that's unrelated to the issue the author and most others recently have referenced.

There's a way to pay a lot less. Ask apple to replace the battery, it costs $219 and because they have to replace the topcase when replacing the battery, you will get a new keyboard.

I was in the same situation and Apple also quoted me $500 until I asked to replace the battery.

This is an awesome tip. Thanks for the ray of hope. I'll look into it.

He's talking about an older model.

Doesn't make his point invalid though. My battery on my older rMBP was almost dying and I went to the Apple Store to let them replace the battery and they also completely changed the top including the keyboard, because the battery is attached to it.

So if you need to get your keyboard replaced, just ask for a new battery instead.

I have a mbp 2015 retina so same as he has I think, Apple quoted me $500 to change the keyboard but $219 to change the battery which included the topcase.

For newer models, no need to do this since keyboard repairs are free.

My early 2015 13'' MBP had the same problem, which is quite well-documented online. Have you tried replacing the keyboard cable? It's a ~€10 fix (say 20, if you don't have a pentalobe screwdriver) and there are lots of tutorials floating around on the web.

I agree that too-expensive machines shouldn't fail so badly, but so it goes.

Does Apple not still offer a $310 USD mail in flat rate for any repair not related to damage?

Have you considered buying the keyboard module on eBay and doing it yourself?

Why are you trying to feed the 'too expensive' meme?

There is a service program to replace these keyboards for free. They are even refunding people who paid to get their keyboards fixed before the program launched. This is almost a non-issue at this point if you can use a replacement computer while they fix yours.

They don’t fix the keyboard. They only “reset” it which means you’ll have to bring it in again once it accumulates enough issues to make it worthwhile. My first key failed within one month. Eventually seven keys came off with ny fingers as I typed.

“Non-issue” is comical word choice.

In my case, they are sending out to have the top case replaced. Can’t speak for others, but they’re not just kicking the can down the road.

The Apple genius also told me that the replacement part won’t be identical to the original keyboard. We’ll see if it’s the new 3rd generation butterfly or just a tweaked 2nd gen.

That's my big problem with the whole "free" repair. If I send in my computer, what do I get back? Will it have some fix that prevents future problems or will I be SOL in a couple of weeks when one of the keys fails again?

> In my case, they are sending out to have the top case replaced. Can’t speak for others, but they’re not just kicking the can down the road.

They built the thing so they have no real option other the replacing the whole top case. The in store repair is blowing air into the keyboard and hoping it fixes it.

Uhhh this is not a symptom of apple's keyboard issue.

I haven't had a single issue with my late 2013 MBP since I bought it and never had a key stop working with any other keyboard I have ever used. It is 100% an issue with the new keyboard design.

Not the 2015, only the butterfly keyboards.

So, if I send in my computer, does the replacement keyboard have a fix to keep it from breaking again?

I’m curious to know if the membrane improves the feel of the keys. I hate how the butterfly switches feel.

Some articles say it feels a bit softer, but I doubt it will make much of a difference.

I’m confused. Are we supposed to be bandwagon mad that Apple took steps to fix their busted keyboard?

No, we're supposed to be mad because they still refuse to acknowledge that it was a real problem to begin with.

They did announced a repair program, is that not acknowledging the issue?

Is their keyboard replacement program valid for the new laptops and how long does it last?

I ask how long because my late 2013 MBP (granted, maxed out top of the line 15 inch) is still running like a complete champ and with how slow cpu/ram is increasing in power these days (mine has 4 cores/16GB ram and now 5 years later, you can only get 6 cores and 32GB of ram) I would expect a top of the line laptop to last a decade before recycling.

Laptop keyboards are not something you can easily/cheaply replace because if they fail, it totally screws over the "laptop" feature since now you need to pay to replace the entire keyboard or get an external one.

So no, laptop keyboards should have even higher standards for reliability these days and I haven't seen any commitment for these new ones.

> Laptop keyboards are not something you can easily/cheaply replace because if they fail, it totally screws over the "laptop" feature since now you need to pay to replace the entire keyboard or get an external one.

There are many laptops with easily replaceable keyboards, this is just typical Apple being Apple.

Who cares? I don’t want to argue on the internet but either take your laptop to get the keyboard replaced for free or... don’t.

I don’t get the rage about all this. Life is too short to care about a MacBook keyboard problem this passionately. It works pretty well and feels great to type on: the end.

It only seems reasonable to be tongue-in-cheek mad. But, we, who hoped that the early reporting that Apple had done nothing to address the contaminent ingress issue may now be quietly relieved.

Perhaps because they never admitted there was an issue. Whoever bought the upgraded MacBook pros with the upgraded butterfly keyboard for the last 2-3 years are probably mad that they got a mediocre product advertised as superior. At least Apple should offer a keyboard replacement/fix program at a lower rate like they did with the iPhone battery.

Edit: Apple did announce a keyboard service program for affected users.


Reading the comment under TFA it seems macbook keyboards have no water resistance? Seems a bit weird for such an expensive device.

Oh god. Forget about keyboards. I once watched a droplet of water so small that it had to have been affected more by subtle air currents than by gravity hit the edge of the trackpad on a pre-force-touch model and then vanish inside the gap, say around 2011, at which point the trackpad promptly stopped working properly for several days (phantom touches, cursor jumping, dead zones). Be careful out there with the expensive toys, eh?

OMG, this reminds me of when I wrecked my MBA after getting out of the shower!

A drop of water managed to break the power button such that is was constantly being pressed if no other key was pressed, causing hard shutdowns. BUT - if I used a tooth pick to stick one of the unused F-keys I could continue using the computer, with the downside that certain key combinations stopped working (mostly shift combos).

Until I figured out the toothpick fix coding was like a Lost episode in high speed, where all was lost if I forgot to press the button within the allotted timespan.

This reminds me about the drain conduits (aqueducts?) in the thinkpads: liquids poured on the keyboard are diverted away from the electronics

Spill drains? I once spilled an entire cup of tea on my T440 - almost half a liter. Didn't even need to power down the laptop to continue working.

I am not sure what they did, but not only on my new 2016 laptop keyboard felt worse, it also broke around half a year in service (shift key just refused to work. Good think there's two of them, but majorly annoying still). I temporarily went back to a 2013 one and my first thought was "man, the old keyboard feels so much nicer"...

I wonder if the keyboard replacement program Apple announced recently[1] for affected keyboards is replacing them with this newer design?

[1] https://www.apple.com/support/keyboard-service-program-for-m...

Apple cast away Steve Jobs and then came begging for him to come back. He did and steered the company from the verge of collapse to a massive worldwide success. Since SJ passed away, Apple is getting worse each year. I guess this might be Jobs' spirit fading away and people thinking they could do better than him. Clearly, they fall short.

<Apple has a patent for this exact tech designed to “prevent and/or alleviate contaminant ingress.”>

This is a pretty sad day that sonething like this can be patented..

Anything wrapped in a cover can “prevent and/or alleviate contaminant ingress”

Does any patent office in the world really think nobody has thought of this before?

The patent [0] does seem a bit more extensive than just wrap it in a membrane. It discusses using venting/gas pressure (from depressing the key) to expel debris, for instance.

[0] http://pdfaiw.uspto.gov/.aiw?PageNum=0&docid=20180068808&IDK...

Sad because the patent wouldn't have been needed in the first place if they didn't feel the need to go so thin.

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