Access encrypted Macbook with broken keyboard?
December 1, 2016 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Finally spilled coffee on my 6-year-old MacBook Pro, borking the keyboard. It still boots up seemingly fine, but the hard drive is encrypted with a 40+ character password and I can't enter the password due to borked keyboard. I tried booting it up with a USB PC keyboard attached, but the laptop didn't recognize it. The problem is not the USB, since it will recognize a USB mouse. Is there a way to bring up an onscreen keyboard? Or another solution I'm not seeing?
posted by HeroZero to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have done a similar thing and it's onerous but you should be able to use the on-screen keyboard by following these instructions.
posted by jessamyn at 9:48 AM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Try a Bluetooth keyboard? I don't know if it would pair automatically, but it might be worth a shot.
posted by rikschell at 9:49 AM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Use a different keyboard? Go to a friend's house.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:00 AM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also it's possible that you could connect this Mac to another Mac and get the files by putting it in Target Disk Mode. So that's another thing you could research.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:02 AM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Can you use other apps? Maybe email or iMessage yourself the key and then copy/paste into the password dialog using the mouse?
posted by nomad at 10:45 AM on December 1, 2016

If nothing else, get a replacement keyboard from eBay, crack open the case, and replace the keyboard. Maybe it's harder on a MacBook than a Thinkpad, but it should still be doable with a proper screwdriver and a spudger.
posted by wierdo at 10:58 AM on December 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wonder if it might have to do with the computer not recognizing the keyboard (sometimes when you use a PC keyboard it asks you to identify certain keys on it before you can proceed with it) and it isn't getting to that point because the disk is encrypted. If you can borrow a genuine Apple keyboard and try that, it might work.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 11:12 AM on December 1, 2016

If that's a relatively recent MBP (ie, a unibody mac) replaceing the keyboard is an enormous pain as it requires removing all of the other guts of the computer.

My vote is to bring it to an apple store, see what they'd charge for a keyboard replacement or if they can help you get your password entered.
posted by Oktober at 11:35 AM on December 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another vote for target disk mode. You can also remove the hard drive fairly easily, and put it in an external enclosure. Then the disk is accessible as a mountable drive via another computer. The suggestion to try using a wired apple keyboard is a good one, but PC and Bluetooth keyboards won't work because they both need input in the OS to enable/configure them, which you currently cannot do.
posted by bluloo at 12:08 PM on December 1, 2016

Yeah, target disk and get your data backed up ASAP, and I concur that you should forget replacing the keyboard on a 6 year old MBP unless you are very handy and experienced, it's a long, complex job. Apple will want about what the computer is worth fixed to replace it, so it's a wash (and once coffee-soaked, problems often accumulate later anyway, I'd say it's time for that new Mac).

Or you probably just need an Apple USB keyboard at a minimum here.
posted by spitbull at 1:06 PM on December 1, 2016

Thanks, all. Alas, most of these solutions were correct...but I couldn't do any of them until I could enter the password. Found a friend with a USB Mac-friendly keyboard, and now I'm typing this response on my new MacBook Air.
posted by HeroZero at 4:25 PM on December 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

« Older NYE plans that don't revolve around food   |   is there such thing as physical side effects from... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.