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Apple admits MacBook ‘sticky’ keyboard problem, will fix broken machines and give refunds

Published Jun 22nd, 2018 5:19PM EDT

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After months of stonewalling an unhappy owner base, Apple has finally chosen 5PM on a Friday to acknowledge an issue with some MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards. The company admits that a “small percentage of keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models” may have the sticky keyboard problem, which users have been complaining about since last year.

For affected users, Apple will offer a fix for free, and anyone who has paid for a replacement keyboard or keys through Apple will be refunded for the cost of the repair.

Apple provided a statement to 9to5Mac outlining the issue:

“Today we launched a keyboard service program for our customers that covers a small percentage of keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models which may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors: letters or characters that repeat unexpectedly or don’t appear when pressed or keys that feel “sticky” or aren’t responding in a consistent manner.”

The Outline 

was one of the first sites to identify the scope of the problem. Writing in October of last year, Casey Johnston said:

Apple forums are overflowing with reports of Geniuses who have told customers that Apple is “collecting data” on the issue. One corporate issuer of the MacBook Pros in question reported to me that its business has encountered a significant number of keyboard issues, but “less than 5% for sure.” Another Genius explained to me that he had seen an overwhelming number of the computers with keyboard issues, the spacebar in particular — while some keys can be very delicately removed, the spacebar breaks every single time anyone, including a professional, tries to remove it. This is a big problem, since, according to the Genius I spoke to, it’s the key most susceptible to acting up from the aforementioned piece of dust. “I would say it’s THE issue on this computer,” he told me.

Apple first rolled out its redesigned butterfly keyboard with the Retina MacBook, and has since pushed it every time it’s made a major update to the MacBook line. The keys have a smaller vertical profile, but the design is prone to dust or dirt collecting underneath.

The company has also been hit with a class-action lawsuit over the issues. “Owners of these laptops have reported a potential defect, which causes keys on the keyboard to become unresponsive, necessitating complete replacement of the keyboard,” law firm Girard Gibbs wrote.

Chris Mills
Chris Mills News Editor

Chris Mills has been a news editor and writer for over 15 years, starting at Future Publishing, Gawker Media, and then BGR. He studied at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.