Does my laptop need botox?
August 28, 2009 8:46 AM   Subscribe

A patch of keys on my old Apple laptop stopped working. No recent spills. What next?

Ive got an old school PowerBook G4, which I fin love, but the keyboard has gone wonky. (There would have been apostrophes in that sentence if I had them.) Ive determine its a hardware issue (not software/operating system). Id really rather not buy a new computer, but a patch of keys on my keyboard have stopped working.

Im up for a little dissembly if necessary. What should I replace, or where should I start to figure out how to fix the problem?

Thank you, MFs.
posted by letahl to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Best answer: The keyboard is easily replaced. There are tabs at the top row of keys which slide down. The keyboard flips up towards the track pad. There is a ribbon cable. Try removing it and reseating it. Otherise the keyboard costs about $100 at an AppleStore
posted by Gungho at 9:01 AM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: When several keys stopped working on my old Powerbook, it turned out there was a cat toenail trapped under them. It's pretty easy to pry off a keycap or two and make sure it's clean under there before resorting to more drastic measures.
posted by magicbus at 9:04 AM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: try blowing out the keyboard first. sometimes crap stuck under there will cause the keys to not work (seconding magicbus). you might also try an external keyboard with those same keys - any USB one will work - just to be sure, or use it to zap the PRAM (Cmd+Opt+P+R when you hit the power button, and then wait for it to chime a few times).

there's a couple kinds of PowerBook G4, and 3 sizes too, so the exact procedure differs depending on what you have. the Titanium models had the screen up on the hinges and had a white painted border around the keyboard/wristrest area, and are the easiest to fix. the Aluminum machines look closer to what Apple ships now, and to the MacBook Pros they shipped just a few months ago, and are harder to fix. (unless this is some amazingly old system, it's probably an Aluminum one.)

if it's an Aluminum PowerBook G4, you'll have to do some disassembly. iFixIt will sell you the keyboard and show you how to do it. if it's a 12" PowerBook, it'd be worth your time to find a local Apple Authorized Service Provider to work on it - those 12" machines are awesomely engineered, and by that I mean they're an absolute pain to work ok.

if it's a Titanium PowerBook G4 or an iBook G4, you'll have the tabs and can replace the keyboard pretty easily. (there might be a few screws to remove, but mostly, you just take the tabs up and lift the keyboard out.) iFixIt will also have the keyboards and instructions for these, too.
posted by mrg at 2:18 PM on August 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks all. It is, in fact, a 12" Aluminum PB G4, but I will make sure there are no cat toenails under the keys before I have the keyboard replaced.
posted by letahl at 10:12 AM on August 29, 2009

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