Broke a MacBook Pro key. Apple Stores, licensed fixers closed. Now what?
May 19, 2020 5:05 PM   Subscribe

The left shift key on my work laptop has been iffy for the past few months and only worked when I pressed the dead center as hard as I could. Today, in all my infinite wisdom and glory, I decided to see what would happen if I pried off the key so I could see the mechanism underneath.

Now I can't get the key back on (of course), but at least I know that the plastic isn't the issue because the button itself still doesn't work consistently. But Apple stores and licensed fixers in my area are all closed. What should I do? I don't know how to describe this type of key other than I *think* it's not the butterfly format. Can I at least get the plastic part back on so the chasm isn't there?
posted by Kitchen Witch to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Where are you located? I'm in the Boston area and just had my MacBook Pro repaired by a local reputable person who was not a licensed Apple repair person. That may be a possibility and somewhere here might be able to recommend someone specific if they know what country and city you are in.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:10 PM on May 19, 2020

I think that’s a butterfly, see here and take a look for yourself.

The good news is that the butterfly keyboard may be under warranty, because the warranty on that design got extended for 4 years whether you have applecare or not. Hopefully they will not ding you for the added damage from removing the key. They certainly don’t have to, they replace the entire top case no matter what.
posted by doomsey at 5:23 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also on the (especially early) butterfly keyboards dome failure - that’s the springy center part that actually forms the key switch - is common and manifests as exactly what you were seeing. So this is a common problem. Nobody will be surprised when you bring it in.
posted by doomsey at 5:26 PM on May 19, 2020

There are apparently lots of problems with some the MacBook Pro keyboards. I need to get mine repaired (the N key doesn't work), but in the meantime, I'm using an external keyboard.
posted by FencingGal at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2020

Response by poster: Sorry, should have specified: I am in Pasadena. This is a 2016 MBP that definitely falls under the bad keyboard warranty. I'm not worried about the cost -- I'm worried about finding somewhere to go because this is my work laptop (and not my personal property). I feel a little leery about bringing it anywhere I don't know. Of course if recommendations are available I would gratefully accept them because this is becoming a Thing.

I do have some spare external keyboards, though I like to have my laptop on my stomach while I do my work because I am a gremlin in that way so I'll have to adapt away from that I guess.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 5:54 PM on May 19, 2020

Depending on the local situation Apple might send you a bo xso you can send it in for repair (if you can be away from it for 3-4 days) to one of their authorized centers. Worth a phone call.
posted by jessamyn at 6:28 PM on May 19, 2020

Apple is happy to send you a box. It will be pre-paid (by you, of course). You put the laptop in the box, seal it with the supplied tape, and it's already pre-addressed to go to their service center. They told me turn-around on a battery replacement was 3-5 days.

Go to, click on your computer, and start a service ticket. They can also help you find an authorized Apple repair center, if one is open near you. (The nearest to San Francisco was apparently in Berkely, across the bay.)
posted by blob at 6:44 PM on May 19, 2020

Try doing it yourself? Low stakes. Here’s a video. And here’s a shop link.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:45 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

If it's a warranty repair, they might pay for the box, fyi.
posted by jessamyn at 7:10 PM on May 19, 2020

Best answer: We called Elite Mac Techs in Studio City for a swollen battery (yikes!) yesterday and they replaced and ran some other checks for half the price that Melrose Mac quoted me. I realize that isn't very close to you, but we have purchased a few computers from them and they are super nice folks. They were masked up and met me outside for drop off and pick up.
posted by doktorj at 8:46 PM on May 19, 2020

Best answer: If you're in Pasadena, you go to Di-No. Oldest Mac dealer around, great folks, and they replaced my keyboard when I did the same thing with one annoying letter. They've been open through the pandemic, and have a safe system for handling repairs from the back parking lot.
posted by Scram at 1:16 AM on May 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

I work in IT. At my previous company, we were on all Macs. All 800+ of us. If a laptop key broke that you tried to repair, talk to your company's IT staff. They will be understanding as the scissor switch keyboards (model you have) are notorious for failing often. If they can't fix it, your machine will be returned to Apple under the keyboard recall program.

Thank God Apple came to their senses and returned to the keyboard everyone liked.
posted by GiveUpNed at 1:57 AM on May 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

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