Apple Magic Keyboard only somewhat magically resistant to coffee
February 19, 2017 8:34 AM   Subscribe

I spilled coffee over the Magic Keyboard from my 2015 iMac. I immediately rinsed it out with tap water and left it to dry and to my surprise it seemed to work. I then had to go away for a couple of days and I've come back to find that although all the keys work the keyboard itself stops working every few minutes. Is it fixable?

The symptoms are rather odd - the keyboard will suddenly stop working, in the sense that keystrokes no longer register. Unlike a low-battery situation, the computer doesn't flag up that it's disconnected from the keyboard. Disconnecting and reconnecting via Bluetooth seems to briefly fix the problem, but it comes back anywhere between ten seconds and ten minutes later.

I'm mostly resigned to getting a new keyboard (I'm back to using the full-travel keyboard from my old Mac Pro, which now feels very clunky!) but is there anything else I can try?
posted by Major Clanger to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
I know it's a cliché, but packing in a container with (uncooked) rice, and leaving in a warm place (lower shelf of the airing cupboard?) has saved a few waterlogged phones I've seen.
posted by howfar at 9:07 AM on February 19, 2017

Two days is not enough for the innards of a wet keyboard to dry out. Stop using it so you don't cause electrolytically mediated corrosion, give it a thorough washing out with warm tap water to get rid of any leftover coffee gunk, then give it a hell of a shaking with the keytops facing downward, then leave it tilted up on one corner for half an hour, then give it another vigorous shaking out, then leave it flat on a towel somewhere warm for a week. If you can arrange for warm air to blow over it while it's drying, you'll probably get away with three or four days.

I haven't had my hands on a Magic Keyboard specifically, so I don't know if Apple has done their usual trick of making it almost impossible to disassemble their gear without special tools. But if they haven't, it will dry a lot faster if it's in pieces than if it stays assembled.

Keyboards have much better access to outside air than phones do, and they also don't have batteries inside. So if the only liquid residue left inside it is plain tap water, and you give it enough time to dry, it should come to no harm.
posted by flabdablet at 9:37 AM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Beg your pardon. Just looked up the specs for the Magic Keyboard and found that it does have a built in battery. On balance, that means you want it to dry out as fast as possible so electrolysis has the least possible amount of time to happen, so on balance you're probably better off not doing the second rinse-out.

Leaving it flat on a towel in a stream of warm air will dry it faster than anything else. If you don't have a handy moving stream of warm air, next best thing is to put it somewhere warm with a pillow case full of crystal cat litter draped over it; crystal litter is made of silica gel, and it will adsorb water vapor much better than dry rice. You can make sure the silica gel is absolutely dry before you start by baking it in a 90°C oven for a few hours.
posted by flabdablet at 9:42 AM on February 19, 2017

Ideally, I'd want to pull the back off it and spend some quality time with a hair dryer. FWIW, here's a teardown on your keyboard. Long story short, it's not easy to open up.
posted by adamrice at 9:44 AM on February 19, 2017

Thanks for all the suggestions! It sounds as if my best bet is to try the various drying-out suggestions and see if matters have improved after a week or so before writing it off and getting a replacement.
posted by Major Clanger at 2:44 PM on February 19, 2017

I had a similar situation with the same keyboard: spilled, cleaned, worked fine for a while, but then a few months later it started glitching randomly. I couldn't trust it so bought a new one.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 7:13 PM on February 19, 2017

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