Apple Is Finally Admitting MacBook Keyboards Have a Problem

Apple is admitting there is a problem with the keyboards in several MacBook and MacBook Pro models and said it will offer free repairs to affected customers.

It's hard to make a satisfying laptop keyboard. Manufacturers have to use switches that don't require too much depth, are reliable enough to withstand constant movement and, in many cases, have to support at least some form of backlight. (Plus the keyboard has to be comfortable to, you know, type on.) Apple thought it solved those problems with the proprietary butterfly mechanism and its second iteration. Yet many people who purchased recent MacBook and MacBook Pro models have reported that some of their keys either stick or don't work at all.

Several class-action lawsuits related to the butterfly mechanism were filed between May and June. The complaints allege that Apple has known since 2015, when the mechanism debuted with the new MacBook, that it was all too easy for keys to become inoperable. Many people couldn't fix the problem themselves, and getting it fixed by Apple could cost hundreds of dollars' worth of repairs if the laptop was out of warranty.

Now, Apple is offering a free repair program for the following models:

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12­-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13­-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2017)

You can find out if your MacBook is covered by going to the Apple menu and selecting About This Mac. This will display your machine's model description.

If your model doesn't appear on this list, it's not covered by the program, and sending it to Apple for repairs will incur the usual cost. If it does appear on the list, you have the option of going to an Apple Authorized Service Provider, Apple Retail Store, or Apple Repair Center to have someone assess the problem and figure out what it's going to take to fix it.

Apple said the repairs "may involve the replacement of one or more keys or the whole keyboard" and that "the service turn-around time may vary depending upon the type of service and availability of replacement parts." That isn't particularly comforting for people who can't part from their laptops for that long, but if you don't mind going without one for a while, at least now the repairs will be free instead of costing an arm and a leg.

Now we'll just have to see if that's enough to convince frustrated customers not to join the class-action lawsuits over these malfunctions.