January 10, 2007 2:44 PM   Subscribe

I've "broken" the shift key on my 14" iBook. Don't ask how. What do I do now?

It's half-snapped but still works, but my fear is it could go at any time. I've found a place that ships individual keycaps, but once shipping is taken into consideration ($10 for UPS Ground--what the heck is wrong with US Priority?) it'll cost me at least $20. That's a whole lot for a tiny piece of plastic. Does anyone know a cheap option that ships cheap? Even better, can someone think of a way for me to avoid paying anything -- like, can I fix the broken key somehow?

(I was trying to clean the keyboard)
posted by Deathalicious to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
Would remapping the shift key to another key be an option?
posted by jmd82 at 3:01 PM on January 10, 2007

$10 for UPS Ground--what the heck is wrong with US Priority?

Tracking code, most likely, makes it easier to ship reliably. With US Mail you don't know what will happen.

It's awfully hard to repair a broken key because the clips are so small. Have you thought about visiting a local Apple retail store or Apple Authorized Repair shop? They might sell you the key.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 PM on January 10, 2007

I just had two replacement keys put inmy ibook at my local apple store. Go to the genius bar and they should have a drawer full of old keyboards. One of the apple store employees just popped of two old keys and put them on my keyboard. They don't match exactly, but it was free.
posted by Alison at 3:03 PM on January 10, 2007

I had to have a keypad replaced on my PowerBook and took it into an Apple Store here in Boston. They took it in the back, replaced it imeediately and didn't even charge me for it.

I suggest calling one of the Apple Stores in Virginia and seeing if they can send one to you via mail. You'll likely not get a freebie, but they might go the extra-mile for customer service. Or, if you have the time (and are in Charlottesville0 consider driving to the Richmond store.
Arlington, Clarendon
Arlington, Pentagon City
McLean, Tysons Corner
Norfolk, MacArthur Center
Richmond, Short Pump Town Center

contact info.
posted by ericb at 3:03 PM on January 10, 2007

On preview!
posted by ericb at 3:03 PM on January 10, 2007

What specifically is broken? It seems that you could try gluing the key to reinforce it.

If you might get lucky with parts on Craigslist or eBay, but if $20 is already too much, these two won't be much likely to be cheaper.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it, even if it breaks. You've still got a spare. Course, I did spend 3 years with a 12" iBook and used a giant 1" file clamp to keep the video chip working.
posted by Cog at 3:05 PM on January 10, 2007

My half-snapped shift key on my iBook was still going strong some 18 months later when I got this new computer. Every month or so it would pop off or stick, and it'd take me five minutes or so to put it back in place, but it still works. Of course, your key might be differently half-snapped and so in more urgent need of replacing, I don't know.

One solution might be to round up a large number of MeFites who each need a key, do a bulk order from this place and then just send the keys out through regular mail. I'd be in for a shift key (iBook G4, RHS) if it would cost me less than $5.
posted by nowonmai at 3:06 PM on January 10, 2007

fKeys gives you a high level of keyboard remapping control. Turn the useless CapsLock or something into shift.

posted by yesno at 3:06 PM on January 10, 2007

I recently broke the 'z' keycap off of my powerbook. I've been looking for those. Where did you find them? And is it much more expensive to get the whole set?

BTW, check on the back of the broken keycap - if it still has the little plastic tabs on it, you can put it back on like this.
posted by ctmf at 3:08 PM on January 10, 2007

Note if you are thinking about going to the Genius Bar at an Apple Store: they reserve their tech's time in chunks and you might not be able to walk up and get a repair done on the spot. I went once and there was a wait of several hours and even though I had a quick fix they told me I had to wait my turn. If you phone ahead or go online, I think you can reserve a slot in advance.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:25 PM on January 10, 2007

I had the same experience as Alison above. Is there an apple store near you?
posted by miss lynnster at 3:34 PM on January 10, 2007

The tab key on my old powerbook popped off. The apple store replaced it with a tab key from an ibook. The replacement key was white while the rest were black. It was very cool.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:24 PM on January 10, 2007

Would remapping the shift key to another key be an option?
Personally, I wouldn't worry about it, even if it breaks. You've still got a spare.

As a touch typist I'm very accustomed to my layout, and I use both left and right shift keys constantly, since I'll use the shift key on the right to Capitalize Words Starting With letters on The left Side of the keboard. So I don't really have a spare shift key.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:21 AM on January 11, 2007

To all who recommend the Apple store: I will be in DC this Tuesday/Wednesday, so I will try out all the Apple Stores in the area. Wish me luck!
posted by Deathalicious at 10:46 AM on January 11, 2007

UPDATE: I never got around to going to an Apple Store and of course now it's snapped in half.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:18 AM on April 10, 2007

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